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No Light-Meter, No Optical Focusing Aids, Only Three Shutter Speeds, Meet My Beirette PR10MAT Viewfinder Film Camera...

Beirette Viewfinder Film CameraTwo weeks, two new Film Camera's, but this one's a bit different (to say the least!)

The Beirette PR10MAT Viewfinder camera offers a F2.9 45mm fixed lens, three shutter speeds and no in-camera metering or optical focusing methods. It is however compact, light and inconspicuous. Did I mention that the body is clad in leather?

I've shot a short video so you can have a look at this intriguing little camera from the old GDR - I can't wait to have a go with it!

I didn't show it in the video, but this camera came with a beautiful leather case and strap - I'm sure I'll feel a bit like Henri Cartier Bresson as I drift around the streets taking photographs!

I quick chat with Victor confirmed that I could use my Fujifilm S5700 S700 Digital Camera as a light-meter instead of relying on guess-work, but I think I'll wait until I get hold of some black and white film before loading it up.

The Beirette feels very comfortable in my hands, and I'm sure it's a lot less intimidating to use it for candid street photography than a big black SLR. I'll just have to watch out for the difference in framing because I'll be composing through the Viewfinder and not the lens.

It'll also be a great learning tool for not only Depth of Field / Hyper focal techniques, but also for getting a better feel for exposure settings in different lighting conditions.

Another car boot bargain! (This one was £4).

Cheers, Rob.

Beirette Viewfinder Film Camera

Reader Comments (4)

Hi Rob,

Great video, you're really intrigued by that little camera!
Fantastic learning tool, stripping away all the 'needless' automatic functions, makes you work for your pictures. You'll soon come to understand the important aspect of understanding light!

I mentioned that you could use your Fuji as a good ligtmeter, but only in the basic 'reflected metering' aspect.

As you're reading Ansel Adams, 'The Negative', you may want to use the fuji as a spot meter.
Set to spot metering mode, zoom all the way to maximum zoom and now you have a spot meter! (Read your higlights, shadows etc. and make an average or biased exposure depending on the subject.) You can use the same method for the so called 18% grey reading, but rather than rushing out to buy a 'photographic 18% card' just use a piece of white paper or card. Spot meter from that then subtract 2 stops from the reading - simple! (Or use black card and add 2 stops.)

Another method I've seen is the old 'coffee filter' trick - Place a coffee filter over the lens of the fuji and now point it at the light source, (towards your lamps BUT from the subject for a portrait/still life setup - The sky or sun for a landscape.) You now have an 'incident' light meter!
The great thing with digital is you can set this reading into manual modes and instantly see the effects of 'reflected', 'incident' and 'limted area' metering straight away!

You'll also come to see the limitations of 'automatic' metering - it's clever but even an 'automatic' car doesn't drive itself!

Don't fall into the trap of Black & White film requiring less critical exposure either!
Silver B&W film does indeed have an exposure range of 7 stops, much more than colour or slide film. You can still get a print from a badly over or underexposed B&W film, (+/-1 to 2 stops), but at the loss of detail in either the highlights or shadows. (I'm not getting into the argument that B&W paper has a 5 stop range either - a good printer can squeeze every last ounce of detail from a good negative!)

If you're still not sure of the exposure readings then go and buy some 'chromogenic' B&W film like Ilfords XP2 or Kodaks BC400CN. You can get away with at least 2 stop errors with this film and get it processed at a standard 'C41' 1 hour lab too! (Even print the negatives with conventional B&W equipment later as well!)

Anyway, fantastic stuff and I'm really looking forward to seeing your images you make with it.

All the Best,


January 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterVictor

Hi Victor,

Excellent advice as usual, I can't wait either!

Cheers, Rob.

January 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRob_Nunn

Excellent advice from Victor as always. One thing I will add (please stop me if you heard this :) ). Keep in mind that negative film (color or black and white) has more latitude on the overexposure side. This is the opposite of digital. That is, when in doubt, expose longer or use a wider aperture. So if you find yourself without a light meter, or your Fuji S5700, and you are in doubt as to whether the day is actually sunny or cloudy, set the camera to cloudy. A perfectly exposed negative is best, but a dense negative can still yield remarkable prints.

January 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterC0mdrData

Hi COmdrData,

Great advice again! Thanks very much!

Cheers, Rob.

January 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRob_Nunn

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