to maximar, a verb...

Goofing around with the house boy and a new old camera.

The camera is called a "Maximar". It is about 70 years old, yet arrived to us here in Africa almost as if new from the dealer's shelf, working perfectly. Amazing to think where it may have quietly hidden all those many decades.

As a thing, it is a beautiful little objet, compact and precise and well-engineered. Incredibly, unbelievably, it folds up smaller than a 35mm Canonet. Yet it makes an enormous negative, half again as large as a Hasselblad if you so desire. The lens, of course, a clean and sweet Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar, "tessarific". Need one say more?

In use it is not an "easy" camera. It practically demands to be put upon a tripod. Fiddling with all the bits is definitely a two- (and sometimes three-) handed operation, requiring deliberate planning and careful sequential operation.

At the same time, though, it is all basic, straight-forward, elemental photography. Focus, exposure, light falling on film.

The results have been fun from our very first roll. And it is fun to think this may have been the very first film in the camera, ever. Could this even be its very first photograph: blossom in repose? How wonderful to think so!

One of the great pleasures of a "new" camera -- even a 70 year-old one -- is that it may stimulate fresh vision. And so I find myself looking at things a little differently now, thinking about how they might appear with the Maximar.

I have also increased my vocabulary a little, adding a new verb. While contemplating some new subject to photograph, I may now catch myself saying, "Yes, I should Maximar that!"

Lomé, Togo, September 2008.

Zeiss Ikon Maximar 207/3, 10.5cm Tessar, Rada rollfilm back (6x9), Neopan 400.