Akarette

Akarette 35 mm cameraThis German Akarette with an Isco-Gottingen Westar 1:3.5/50 mm lens was my dad’s first, in fact only, 35 mm camera. It’s not an SLR so focussing involved setting the shutter speed and aperture then rotating the outer ring of the lens to select the estimated distance in feet. It focussed from 3.5 feet to infinity but for close-ups you had to allow for the parallax between viewfinder and lens.

You could switch to a second viewfinder if you fitted a 75 mm lens, which we never had. I believe my father bought the camera secondhand from Wallace Heaton, London. A big advance on our box camera.

It’s powered by clockwork, wound up every time you wind on the film, so the sound of the shutter is a retro delight. It also has a satisfyingly retro shutter delay of up to ten seconds. My dad once set it up to photograph my mum in a formal garden then had to leap over little box hedges and flowerbeds to get himself into the picture. I can’t remember now whether he quite made it into position but if he did it was by a hair’s breadth.

I more or less took over this camera when my dad started taking cine film. The most frustrating thing for me was its inability to take macro photographs. It travelled with me to Iceland on a college field trip (just me and my tent, I didn’t go with a group) but by then its days were numbered because I’d discovered the delights of using the Pentax Spotmatic – with macro lens – on the college photography course.

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