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'everything that's old is new again', cameras, equipment, gear, lost culture, memories, PI biz, surveillance

Old Photographic Technology

Tamara’s recent post regarding old-fashioned cameras got me to thinking.  Remembering when.

When I was a licensed private investigator, I always wanted the literary trappings of it.  The snap-brim fedora, the trench coat, the shoulder holster.  And a fine 35 mm camera.  A Speed Graphic was a bit to old-school for me.

Alas, I operated on a shoestring, and could not afford such finery.  I did have my Dad’s very-well-used trench coat, that multiple dry cleanings failed to clean.  I used it as an ersatz gun rug for my Ithaca DSPS shotgun.  No fedora.

One of my then brothers-in-law took a job in Japan, and visited with Christmas gifts.  An inexpensive pair of 12×50 binoculars, and a 80-200mm zoom telephoto lens for my then wife’s Yashica camera.

Sadly, the camera leaked light, and the mount had changed in years since the camera was purchased – so the lens didn’t fit.

I did what any reasonable person would do.  I went on an obsessive search for a camera it would fit.  No Internet then, classified ads in multiple camera magazines were the ticket.  And I found one:

A Contax 137 MA.  Contax is to Yashica as Lincoln is to Ford.  And this model had all the bells and whistles, including an internal motor drive!  And the zoom lens fit!  I promptly bought a 2x teleconverter to make the zoom lens 160-400mm!

contax 137And I was in the photographic investigation snoop business!

I went about town taking ‘candid’ shots of folks who had no idea there photograph was being taken.  After all, that was the nature of the business, wasn’t it?

And took many other photographs.  My camera bag was the perfect concealment whilst traveling all over California, Oregon, Nevada, Idaho and Washington.  3-year-old Molly had no objection to having her picture taken.  Walt Disney would have had a fit, if he had known about the 5″ 1911 in the bag with the Contax in his theme park!.

After my wife and I split up, she borrowed the camera and lens.  And had a burglary.  And it was lost.

I even went on-line a few years ago to see if I could locate a replacement model on EBay.  They are out there, but not in the best condition.  And what’s the point?  It’s old photographic technology.    And I cannot afford neither ammunition nor film, anyway.


About guffaw1952

I'm a child of the 50's. libertarian, now medically-retired. I've been a certified firearms trainer, a private investigator, and worked for a major credit card company for almost 22 years. I am a proud NRA Life Member. I am a limited-government, free-market capitalist, who believes in the U.S. Constitution and the Rule of Law.


8 thoughts on “Old Photographic Technology

  1. I’m still occasionally finding Polaroid photos of my Big Brother. They always make me smile.

    Posted by brigid223 | December 8, 2014, 10:35 am
  2. Scanning Polaroids here too!

    Posted by keads | December 8, 2014, 6:22 pm
  3. Well, they are coming back with a ‘version’ of polaroids… Who knows… 😉

    Posted by Old NFO | December 9, 2014, 3:57 am
  4. Meanwhile, film is going to be hard to find … at least in the short term. I’ve scanned & edited all my old Navy photos, wedding photos, and family pics going back to the 1950s. Even if film makes a comeback, the infrastructure of local photography studios which will develop your film has gone away.

    Used to mail mine to Fox Photos; wonder if they’re still around?

    Posted by Rev. Paul | December 10, 2014, 9:35 am

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