Petri F1.9

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by coryammerman, Dec 17, 2013.

  1. Some of you may remember a few weeks ago when I posted about a Petri rangefinder that I had repaired. Well, I finally got a chance to take it out yesterday and see how well I had done with the repair. The camera is working well, for the most part. There is a bit of uneven exposure, with the center of the frame being over exposed. It seems that the shutter leaves are not moving quite as fast as they should. I have corrected this for the pictures displayed, using local brightness and contrast enhancements in Capture NX2. Additionally, I adjusted some of the exposures to account for my suspect abilities with using the Sunny 16 rule. As per, our unofficial guidelines for this forum, no sharpening was applied in post.
    A little History first. Petri Camera has been around since 1907. According to Wiki, the company was originally known as Kuribayashi Shashin K?gy? or Kuribayashi Camera Industry, inc. Japan, before changing it's name to Petri in 1962. Curiously, the name change came after the introduction of this camera. Petri is better know for their rangefinders with green rangefinder windows and the Green-O-Matic" nickname. If you want to see an example of what I'm talking about, see Rick Drawbridge's Post on the later 2.8 version. This camera predates the Green-o-Matic window, which would put its manufacture, most likely, in 1958, from what I can glean from the internet. Thsi version sports a Copal MXV shutter with speeds from 1-1/500 sec plus bulb, and provides a sync terminal for M or X flash synchronization. The aperture has 10 blades, producing lovely out-of-focus characteristics. The$.5 cm f1.9 lens is decently sharp on my copy, but not the sharpest I've used. It is worth mentioning that it may have well been a tad sharper before I opened it up.
    Whilst perusing eBay for nothing in particular, I happened across a set of auxiliary lenses for this camera. I put in the first bid. No one else seemed inclined to bid on them. As it turns out, maybe there's a good reason for that. The tele is not very tele, and the wide not very wide. Both have a pretty fair amount of edge blurring to them, the wide lens less so than the tele. Probably would have been better off saving that $10.
    As I was getting ready to head out, a cacophony of chainsaws and diesel engines arose just down the street. A neighbor a few houses down was having a tree removed from his back yard and the tree service brought in one of the oldest cranes I've ever seen in use. The motor at the back that powers the hydraulics for the boom smoked up the whole neighborhood and sounded like it's muffler rotted away in about 1980 or so and was never replaced.
    The guy operating the crane seemed to take a fair amount of enjoyment in bossing everybody around during the set up.
    Eventually they got everything situated and got to work. The first thing was to use the crane to haul a fellow, whose job fits squarely into the category of "things that I wouldn't want to do for a living," into the top of the tree with a chainsaw.
    The above picture was taken with the wide angle aux lens. Here's a shot of the guy up in the tree taken with the telephoto lens.
    It was still quite cool out, and since I'm a bit of a weenie when it comes to cold weather, I went back home and decided to wait for it to warm up a bit before going out again.
    Once the temps got up into the mid 50's or so, I headed out again. This is a Methodist church a few blocks from my house.
    An overgrown tree nearby.
    A few blocks away, North Parkway does an S curve while passing under 3 overpasses. I know there's a great shot here somewhere, but this isn't it. One of these days I'll find the right combo of focal length and angle of view.
    Coming out from under the overpasses puts you right next to the mammoth Sears Crosstown building, 1.4 million square feet of abandonment. 14 stories tall at it's highest point, the building towers over the surrounding houses and commercial buildings. When it was originally constructed in 1927, it was considered to be in the middle of nowhere. Once a bustling center of warehousing and shipping of goods, the building saw a steady decline of activity as Sear's mail order business declined. Sears discontinued most of its operations there in the 1980's and finally closed the doors in 1993. It's sat unoccupied ever since. Recently, though, the city council voted to devote funds to help a redevelopment group begin the initial phase of bringing the building back to life as a mixed-use structure.
    So far, all they've managed to do is fence in the parking lot.
    At his point, I ran out of film and headed home.
    The film used was Kentmere 100, developed on T-Max developer for 7 mins at 69F. Scanned on Epson V600 at 2400 dpi. Most of these shots were taken at f5.6-11, but the shot of the cross and the last shot were taken at f1.9. Thanks for looking.
  2. Very nice camera, and equally nice images.
    Thanks for sharing with us.
    The residential neighborhood typifies a certain time in American domestic architecture, as does the Sears building, for that matter.
  3. Thanks Cory, we don't see enough Petri's on this site! They may have a poor reputation for reliability, but are interesting cameras none the less.
    Congrats on getting yours back into action and the pics look good to me. I particularly like the wide open shots, very nice bokeh with that lens. Somewhere in my cave I have a Petri Racer and a Petriflex 1V, must dust them off and give them a work out.
  4. Cory,
    Very interesting photo essay. I liked the contrast between the removal of the tree with the resurrection of the Sears building. I wonder when the tree was planted?
    By the time Modern Photography started their camera tests Petri had come out with their next version of the 1.9. They really like the camera and the lens that came with it. I had to go back a few issues to find an ad for your camera. It is a pretty good ad for a company that didn't do a whole lot of advertising.
    Here it is.
  5. Boy, those Sears warehouses were very architecturally consistent. Very similar to the Boston one, although MUCH larger than it.
  6. Nice results. I'll admit I haven't gotten around to picking up a Petri yet, but I am thinking about it. I remember seeing the Petri "Green-o-matic" ads in some of the old photo magazines that I inherited from my dad. Thanks for posting.
  7. Nice pictures. I always wander why successful operations like Sears never level their buildings and just let them stay abandoned attracting all kinds of bad reputations...
  8. Most of the Petri cameras looked nice from outside but the internals were often rather slammed together. (They share this with some Yashica cameras from the 60s and 70s.) On later models they made their own shutters, and these easily compete with the Copal leaf shutters used on early models. One of the few exceptions concerning built quality is the Petri Color 35, a really nicely designed and manufactured camera.
    However, once they are up and running, they are nice performers, and their lenses are at least equal to those of other manufacturers of that era.
  9. Yeah, sad about the tree; I think I would have preferred the removal of the Sears Building! Some of the Petri glass was above average, but the few Petri cameras I have are flimsy, though pretty to look at, the Racer being an especially attractive little camera.
    The Color 35 seems to have gathered a cult following, and I'd certainly agree that's it's an innovative and well-built little camera, with some critics rating it above the similar Rollei 35's. Interesting series of photographs, Cory, and an enjoyable post.
  10. Thanks for the responses everyone.
    JDM- I've long been a fan of early 20th century architecture. It just seems to have more character than modern architecture. When the wife and I decide to buy a house, I lobbied hard for a fixer-upper in an older neighborhood, but she wanted a new house. We compromised by buying a new house in an old neighborhood.
    Tony- Petri's do seem rather underrepresented here, and on the internet in general. I guess that's because of their reputation for unreliability. I was pleased with the out-of focus rendering the lens provided, thanks to that 10-bladed diaphragm.
    Marc- I hadn't really considered the contrast of the demise of a tree with the resurrection of a building, but it is interesting now that you point it out. Thanks for sharing the ad. I love the glowing language the advertisers used.
    John- You are correct. Sears built several of these buildings across the country. Most were very similar in appearance. Here are one in Minneapolis and one in Los Angeles.

    Mike- If you can get a working Petri on the cheap, go for it. Most models seem to be pretty good picture takers, image-quality wise anyway.
    Kozma- Sears built 8 of these buildings across the country in the 1910's and 20's. With the demise of their mail-order business, I doubt the had the capitol much less the desire to flatten them all. They sold them off at bargain prices instead. Two of them (Philadelphia and Kansas City) were eventually torn down by the new owners.
    Winfried- I've come across several references to the Color 35's while reading up on my camera. They and the 7/7S series seem to be fairly popular.
    Rick- It is a shame about the tree. I'm not sure why the owner decided to take it out. It didn't seem to be in bad shape, outwardly at least. Maybe he just got tired of raking leaves? That was some nice work you did with the Racer in your post. Steven Gandy definitely seems to prefer the Color 35 to the Rollei 35.

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