Returning to Simplicity During this Cold and Long Winter...

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by ralf_j., Mar 1, 2013.

  1. During the January camera show, I was given an Ansco Pioneer camera by one of the dealers there, after I'd already had my picks from his tables.
    A few years ago, I would have thumbed my nose at such a camera, but as I have gotten to spend more time with them, I have discovered that they can be a lot of fun and entertaining. Gene M's excellent photos made with such cameras, were another driver in dedicating a portion of my photography to the simpler cameras in our lives.
    As I have mentioned in one of my previous responses to a recent post, I do not like it much being out in freezing temperatures and whipping winds, even though I love taking photos. I am sure, many of you do not enjoy adjusting fine milled rings or tiny levers through thick gloves. This is where these cameras fit in, at least for me. For me it is enough to check the weather forecast and load them with the appropriate speed film. All that remains is composing and holding the camera perfectly still at the moment of exposure...
    Back to my Ansco Pioneer gift - It is made mostly of bakelite and resembles the Clack. It takes 620 size film, so re-rolling is in order, but not a big deal other than a minor nuissance. It only has the Instant shutter setting ~ 1/40s. Brought it home and noticed that it was in need of some major cleaning (A good chunk of the fun, is trying to clean/restore these cameras as best as possible). Initially, I thought that the front standard could be separated with some sort of force, but that was the wrong assessment; further checking revealed two screws from the inside that held it in place. I was able to clean the camera thoroughly including the fogged out viewfinder. If you are interested, you can see my cleaning video here
    I shot one roll, and had quite a bit of fun with it. I picked up several of its rebadged siblings for a couple of bucks here and there; now the family has 3 new additions, an Ansco Jr. Press Photographer, an Ansco Readyflash, and lastly and Agfa Pioneer which offers a 'B' setting as well. I have used them extensively these past couple of months and am sharing some of the results with you...

  2. Sandy's aftermath - 3 months later
  3. Machinery -
  4. Highway Overpass -
  5. Burger Boy
  6. Perspective
  7. Nature's Ice Sculpture
  8. Birdhouse - Ansco Jr. Press with Ansco Portrait Lens #30
  9. Drinking birds
  10. Narrows
  11. Summer sweets
  12. Colorful trash
  13. Texting as the world rolls by
  14. Street ball
  15. Frozen stream
  16. Frozen fish fountain
  17. Steps
  18. Woods
  19. Tower
  20. Glass
  21. Snow Ball Fight

    Ansco Jr. Press on Ilford HP5+
  22. Ralf you really got your money's worth here. The pictures are delightful. I've been up north every week for a while now, but there hasn't been much time for photography. I gotta get back at it.
  23. Excellent photos. Love your idea of choosing the film speed based on the weather. I've been eyeballing these cameras since the Clacks tend to go for more money, and was wondering if they were good shooters. It seems they are. One other attribute of these cameras is that there are no excuses. Meter was off? Forgot to set the aperture/shutter speeds? Doesn't matter. If the shot doesn't come out, I know who to blame. Me. There's nothing to adjust.
  24. Wow.
  25. As a New Yorker who's been to many of these spots, it was really a pleasure to see your photos. They're great. Thanks.
  26. I love all of the pictures. Wonderful.
    I like your idea for cold weather shooting too.
  27. SCL


    I'm impressed. It just goes to show that often it isn't so much the camera, as the knowledge and vision of the photographer. Thanks for sharing.
  28. Ralf - these are superb. Thanks for sharing. I especially liked Texting in Bryant Park.
    Also, if I had to put my money on you v/s the girl with the snowball I'm going girl with the snowball.
  29. Looks like I'll have to dig out the Hawkeye.
  30. Ralf, these are wonderful crisp and clean photos. I like them all!
  31. What an excellent series of posts you have here Ralf, like Gene you have a good eye so the camera can be irrelevant. So many of these cameras were thrown out, which is tragic as they are are real buzz to use.
  32. Fine series, Ralf, a tribute to you rather than the cameras. It's always a pleasure to see fine images from simple cameras such as these, and they tend to confirm my opinion that the Ansco/Agfa cameras of this era had better lenses than many of their contemporaries. I get a heap of satisfaction from producing worthwhile images from such cameras, and I'm sure you do, too. "Solitude" is a classic image, but they all have their virtues. Thanks for going to a lot of effort to produce an enjoyable post.
  33. Great images --- really an inspiration to go out in the cold with a simple box camera and come back with such lovely photos!
  34. Rob – thanks for the kind comments, I hear what you are saying, with time being so limited and this winter dragging so long, one can not help but yearn for the warmer days, which are not too far away..
    Steve M. – thanks for the comments, I have has my share of poor exposures with these but the right planning has kept them to a minimum.
    Gene - thanks for stopping by, appreciate it.
    Alan – thanks, appreciate the pleasant comments from a fellow NY-er,
    JDM – Thanks for the feedback, hope you are doing well, can not help but wander whether you have taken any new photos with your great GDR goods.
    Stephen – Thanks for the kind feedback, appreciate it.
    Kayam, buddy, thanks for stopping by and commenting, not much of a snow ball fight ;-), I exercised my authority as a dad to avoid getting any slush on my “brand spanking new” JR Press…
    Roger – break out that Hawkeye, and have some fun, I recently restored an all metal Flash Brownie Six20 and it didn’t disappoint in terms of experience.
    Mr. Short – appreciate your kind comments and thanks.
    Tony – thanks for stopping by and commenting; Yes it is unfortunate that a good number of these ended up in landfills, it is up to us to reverse that course and get more people to use them, really…
    Rick – I am glad you like them, especially “Solitude”, it is one of my favorites as well. Really enjoyed these cameras, both restoring them and shooting with them. All the best.
    L Mar - thanks for your feedback, hopefully we won’t have to put up with this cold much longer, but for now, bundle up, grab a brownie, some 400 speed film and enjoy yourself.
  35. Ralf:
    You got some wonderful images from those cameras, and it shows that you know their ways very well to get those results, plus you have a good eye for that format. Many thanks for sharing!
  36. Lovely pictures Ralph ! The mild softening in the edges of the frame adds to the perspective and creates more depth in these pictures. Thank you, sp.
  37. Wow, Ralf! These are most impressive! I have one of these
    but it just sits on a shelf looking pretty and dusty. It's
    awesome to see what can be done with a camera of this
    vintage. Great job with these and thanks for posting them.
  38. Lovely work Ralf! Thanks for sharing this project with us.
  39. Alwways late to the party ! Excellent photos all nicely done. I liked that there were so many photos and a variety of color/B&W. Very impressed with the color photos. Also enjoyed the comparing the Acros to HP5 both excellent tonal films. As it's been said again and again It's not the camera... Kudos Great presentation.
  40. Mark - thanks for commenting, I appreciate it.
    Thank you SP, these snapshooters definitely have their charm.
    Andy - time to put it to good use :), thanks for commenting as always, we need to see some of your film shots in this forum, it's been a while for sure.
    William - many thanks for the compliments, it is always a pleasure to share my photos with the forum here.
    Chuck - you are not late, you just love making an entrance ;-). Many thanks for the comments.
  41. Thanks Less, much appreciated feedback, HP5+ just went up in proce by almost a dollar, but it is still the cheapest 400 speed film in B&W; likewise on Acros.
  42. Ralf,
    I agree with the others. This is a wonderful set of images. I was not familiar with this camera although it is a type I like. It was the type of camera my family would have had. We probably had the Kodak equivalent. We have a lot of family photos from the 40's and 50's. It is surprising the quality one can get.
    I found a listing of the Ansco Pioneer in a 1948 Peerless catalog. I thought I would include several pages of inexpensive cameras. Just to compare, an Argus C3 is listed at $74.71. We typically consider that to be an inexpensive camera for its time.
  43. Marc - thanks very much for the feedback and the historical attachment. It is amazing that such a simple camera would command over $70 USD in today's money.Regards.
  44. Ralf, these are absolutely fantastic photographs. A wonderful view of New York.
  45. Alex, many thanks for the positive feedback, really appreciate it. Best.
  46. Nice series. Even with modern film the photos have a vintage look that works well for the chosen subjects. Thanks for posting.
  47. Thanks for the feedback Mike, you are quite right about the look and feel. I must say again and again, these were quite fun to shoot with, almost worry free.

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