29 Jun 2012

Miranda and slow photography

If you are a car or motorcycle enthusiast you know that the list of vanished brands is a long one --from AC to Zebra,AJS to Zandupp.It's the same in the world of cameras.Even the ranks of the Japanese camera brands have dramatically thinned since the heady days of the 60's and 70's when Japanese camera manufacturers were making some beautiful, high precision cameras at very affordable prices.The Topcon,Cosina,Yashica,Minolta,Konica,Bronica,Widelux and Miranda brands have all disappeared and probably more will go in the next few years .
Just as there are collectors of old cars and motorcycles there are also collectors of old cameras .Early Japanese single lens reflexes (SLRs) in particular were in general very well made and their appeal is similar to the appeal of say old watches -- they are great examples of engineering.The great thing is that here in Australia good examples of old cameras can still be picked up for little money-- often from charity shops,cash converters, junk shops and pawnbrokers, garage (yard) sales and even from Ebay or classified ads (see below).So camera collecting has the appeal of being an affordable and harmless hobby which does not take up much space.A lot more affordable than collecting old wine,old watches,old cars or motorcycles and particularly old Porsches but not as interesting as the latter.

John Maries in the UK picked up a Miranda SLR for a song as he recounts......
"I set out in November 1963 to buy a Miranda F but couldn't find one, so ended up with an Asahi Pentax S1a.That was no bad thing and is another story in itself.

However, the Miranda yen was still there and about ten years ago,I found an unloved Miranda RE in a charity shop for ten pounds sterling .I bought it.

Sadly, on its very first outing, to the RAF Museum at Hendon, the breach-mounted lens fell off and the airfield notched up another "kill".The Miranda body got put away.

Now, regular readers will probably know that this blog has a Hasselbad thing going-on currently and so do I, and it was whilst e-shopping for 'blad bits that I came across a Miranda standard lens for just under ten pounds.  The lens is a generation later than the RE (1971), which is itself later than the "F" (1963), but it fitted and this was just camera candy, not part of a serious collection.

As with many 60s/70s 35mm SLRs, the Miranda is nicely built, but its real claim to fame was the fact that you could remove the prism and fit a waist-level finder - camera candy is always better when it comes in different flavours. The RE features stop-down metering and a modern LR44 battery, provided identical readings to those from my iTouch's Light Meter app (shouldn't do, but it does).

The Miranda lens' mount owed much to the earlier German Exakta camera, but it also featured an inner 44mm screw thread, which the extension tubes utilise.

Clearly, distribution limited the brand's success, as did, the fact that Miranda used Soligor lenses at one time.  When the factory went under in 1977, the brand name was to be used on products from many factories, but these later offerings weren't the "real" Miranda."

A growing number of enthusiasts are turning back to analogue( film) photography as a more satisfying form of photography than mass digital snapping and a solid SLR such as the Miranda is a very inexpensive way to get into the movement.
If you live in Australia a small publication with a yellow cover "Photographic Trader" published bi-monthly and widely available at newsagents is full of classifieds for old film camera gear much of it at very low prices.Get in early and beat the rush.Look what's happened to vinyl records and Amazon reports that fountain pen sales have doubled in the past 12 months-albeit off a very small base.Slow is making a-small-comeback.If you would like to read more about the Slow Photography movement see SLOW PHOTOGRAPHY .

27 Jun 2012

Film rediscovered

Regular readers of TRR may know that a few weeks ago I sold some spare Porsche wheels and splashed out and bought a Hasselblad medium format film camera and lenses because
-I have always wanted one since I was a small boy in short trousers (a long time ago) and could not afford one until now when they have become really affordable because there are only a few people as mad as me and my UK friends who want them.
- I felt that "wham bam" industrial scale "snapping" aka digital photography was losing its appeal for me.
Well my recent trip to Germany disrupted my experiments with the 'Blad but now I have the first photos to show and I am delighted with the results.I have only taken three rolls ( 36 shots) so far and really I have been feeling my way with a very strange camera, a lightmeter and the long forgotten thought processes of slow photography.It is strange,it is slow and yet it is satisfying in a way that digital photography is not. And silver film has a "look" that it is very difficult to capture with a digital camera .Having said that the photos were processed by a commercial lab as my embrace of slow photography does not yet extend to processing the film at home (and I gave all my processing gear away years ago) and I scanned the negs in and processed them in Lightroom 4 so really it is hybrid photography -50% analogue (film) and 50% digital.
The photos were taken on Kodak Tri-X film.

25 Jun 2012

Pies and Porsches

Classic Porsche drive into the Blue Mountains on sunday.A great turnout of 29 very polished cars-356s,a 912,long nose 911s and big bumper 911s.Beautiful clear winter's day, great drive route.Very little traffic and a great destination.Thanks Pie in the Sky.
A good cup of coffee,a hot pie and plenty of time to stand around in the sun talking Porsches.What more could one ask?
One of the best days in my 11 years of Porscheing.

Total trip 315 kms for my 2.2 (BDY 54N ) which ran beautifully in the cold air but those Webers guzzled fuel with the hard on and off the throttle driving.Thanks Warren for setting a really spirited pace despite all those slippery,damp patches on the road under the trees from Spencer up Mangrove Mountain on the way home-I really had to work to keep up with you.
I noticed when I changed down a tad too early on one fast tight section that the ignition cut out (rev limiter) did not work (7800!).Took off the rotor button today and found that the little sprung sliding piece was sticking.Put in a spare which I had on the shelf.Engine sounds fine -- well it was only for a fraction of a second.Leica X1 photos.

23 Jun 2012

Deutsche Museum -Munich

Maybe it's the many hours I spent playing with Meccano in my childhood but I am fascinated by mechanical things-mechanical clocks/watches,mechanical cameras,even mechanical cars as opposed to electronically assisted cars and mechanical aircraft as opposed to fly by wire, glass cockpit aircraft.I still cannot resist the temptation to take mechanical things apart and fix them if they are not working .I'll take gears,chains,drive belts,cams and springs over a black box full of microchips any day.
So whilst in Munich a visit to the Deutsche Museum is a must for me.I could spend all day there--in fact I did three weeks ago .It is not a"wow' museum like the BMW,Porsche or Mercedes-Benz museums.The displays are pretty pedestrian by today's standards and it is housed in an old building but it is stuffed with fascinating things.The automotive and railway exhibits have outgrown the main building and are now in an out of town location.

Some glimpses of exhibits -- a jet engine turbine and the valve gear of an early Benz racing engine.Look at those exposed valve springs and the open camshaft drive and the "beefy" welds--no thoughts of weight saving there.

And a look into an ex-Lufthansa Boeing 707 cockpit -all levers and analogue dials--although a few seem to have gone AWOL in this cockpit - and with more in common with a WW2 bomber than with today's glass cockpits in a Boeing 777,787 or Airbus.I remember flying on Boeing 707's in the 70's including flying to Australia from Hong Kong on a Cathay Pacific 707 in 1977.Next saturday I fly Sydney to Hong Kong on a Cathay Pacific 777-a world and 35 years away from that 707.

Finally a wonderful ,sectioned Wankel rotary engine-such a promising idea which did win Le Mans in a Mazda in 1991 but never really achieved widespread commercial acceptance due to its high fuel consumption.

The Deutsche Museum isn't just old stuff -they had a fascinating exhibition of nanotechnology on in May(not easily photographed)and the photography collection is excellent -more on this in another post .
Leica X1 photos.

21 Jun 2012

Mercedes-Benz Museum

I'm not into Mercedes-Benz cars so the Mercedes Museum could never hold the same fascination for me as the Porsche Museum down the road .However it is an amazing museum.The architecture and the presentation in every detail is superb.It is very strong statement about the brand and the three pointed star.
I went to the previous M-B Museum a few years ago and although it was interesting the history was sanitised and it was a case of "don't mention the war". Now the reverse is true and they are totally transparent about what happened to the company and the country in the 1930's and 1940's.In fact a visit to the museum provides an interesting and objective presentation of the social history of Germany through the 20th century.
The display of the silver arrows racing cars is superb and even the cafe/restaurant is excellent .It is no wonder that the museum is one of Germany's top tourist attractions.
Leica X1 photos.

19 Jun 2012

Le Mans 2012 Results

As expected the result was another Audi whitewash taking all the podium positions which makes their record 8 wins in 9 years.The hybrid Toyotas showed great speed in the early stages and even lead the race but accidents eliminated them.
The first two positions were taken by Audi's hybrid cars .To develop this technology and get it to this position in its first year is an amazing achievement.Such a pity that we were denied an opportunity to see what Peugeot's hybrid car would do.

The very weird Delta wing experimental car driven by Batman,Robin and Wonder Woman was eliminated in an accident .See Delta wing

Sadly the few Porsches in the GTE classes failed to shine being vanquished by Ferraris and Corvettes.The first Porsche home was 21st.Oh,unhappy days and a far cry from the days when the Le Mans organisers were worried by the predominance of Porsches in the field .

After three spectacular frightening and very similar high speed accidents in two years involving front runners and Ferraris being driven by amateur drivers the organisers must be wondering whether the speed/skill differentials between the classes need to be addressed .Even more worrying is the propensity for the fastest cars to flip over and fly as soon as they are turned or turn sharply sideways. The canard fins legislated in the rules in 2011 were supposed to minimise this but they do not appear to work .See Toyota Crash

For detailed results see Results


How the Peugeot Le Mans team were feeling this weekend .Stuttgart,June 2012

17 Jun 2012

Munich Main Station

There is something about a major European railway station which I have always found fascinating.The trains heading to and arriving from major cities across the continent mixed in with local trains.Exotic destinations,interesting destinations,unfamiliar destinations and destinations which revive personal memories of past journeys plus the eclectic mix of travellers and those just watching .
It's difficult to capture the scale of a major railway station in a single photo .This panorama is a 5 frame stitch taken from the mezzanine level of Munich's Hauptbahnhof early in the morning two weeks ago .Leica X1 photos.

14 Jun 2012


It's the Le Mans 24 hours this weekend .I won't be there but I am going to the Le Mans Classic in 4 weeks time.After last year's thriller of a race this year's was always set to be an anticlimax and this was turned into a definite when Peugeot withdrew earlier in the year see PARTY POOPER. Early indications from the first practice session confirm that this year's race will be a race between Audis.
Toyota's new hybrid car has made a surprisingly strong showing in practice seeing that it has seen little track time .After spending the equivalent of the GDP of a reasonable sized African country on formula one over nine years and achieving very little for it I am surprised to see Toyota ever going near a race track again but good on them and I wish them luck.
The folks at Aston Martin have changed their medication back to the old pills and returned to their rightful place in the GTE categories after last year's farcical effort at competing at the front of the field. See Aston Madness.Aston did not take my advice and put the Aston Martin One in a museum and to be fair they obviously wanted to bury it .They did in fact sell ( (give?) the monocoque tub to another team's project and I believe that it is racing this weekend.A form of advanced recycling which proves that even the most useless rubbish can be useful to someone.
The Porsche presence is again small and limited to the GTE categories . It is sad to see Porsche's effort so diminished .I know that they are coming back big time in 2014 but that is still a long time away and true believers ,like myself,are frustrated by their lack of commitment to an event which has been so important to their brand in the past .
If you want to follow this year's race there is a live continuous radio stream from Radio Le Mans ( in English) on Radio Le Mans .Enjoy.

13 Jun 2012


Some silver vignettes from the Porsche Museum.The lighting in the Museum certainly works well with the shape of the cars particularly polished aluminium.I made sure I arrived at the museum early so that I could avoid the crowds.
For those who are interested in such matters these were all shot on the little Leica X1 as DNG(RAW) images and processed in Lightroom.In fact they have received little tweaking although I am sure that a Lightroom "ace" could improve them substantially.