Petri 1.9 Color Corrected Super 35 mm rangefinder
Purchase Price: 3000 yen
Mechanisms still operating, lens a bit dusty with maybe some small mold dots. Leather case with Petri logo embossed on it. NO lens cap.
Lens: fixed Petri orikkor 1: 1.9 f=4.5cm Shutter Type: Copal-SV
Shutter Speeds: B, 1s-1/500
Aperture Settings: F1.9-F16 in whole stop increments All the F-stops are in green numbering except F-11 (Why?)(I notice that the camera doesn’t always click into a stop so it seems I can get half stops?)
Flash: mount and flash outlet on the lens, M and X settings (not sure what they are)
Timer lever (I haven’t tried it because why tempt fate?)
In 2010 I bought a vintage rangefinder camera on a whim at an antique market at Aka Renga Soko in Yokohama, Japan. A table selling watches and parts caught my eye. It didn’t take long to realize that I didn’t have the skills to make anything interesting. As I walked away I noticed a cardboard box on the floor full of old junk cameras.
I’d been looking for a cheap camera to do Lomography style photos; some kind of old thing that I could trick-out or modify with out feeling guilty. I wanted something really, truly retro rather than plastic made to look retro. The plastic Diana or Holga aren’t very cheap in Japan. A Holga usually runs to about ¥8000. Plus I got to feel virtuous for giving an old camera a new life.
There were old Canon A-F and Contax SLR bodies with out lenses or covers. The innards open to the ravages of dust and time. One camera still had a leather case. It was a Petri 1.9 Color Corrected Super, 35mm rangefinder. Petri? Never heard of it. I opened it up and it seemed like the shutter still worked.
I asked the dealer about the camera. He opened the it up and it had a roll of film in it. We closed it up, clicked a few frames and advanced the film. Seemed to work. He wanted 5000 yen for the camera. The lens had a lot of dust and looked like it might be a bit moldy. The leather case existed mostly in spirit. The velvet inside was dusty and the case was smelly. We negotiated for ¥3000. If worse came to worse I had a neat looking retro decoration.
Anxious to try the camera out, I practically ran to World Porters, a shopping mall next to Aka Renga Soko. At that time there was a to branch of Popeye Camera Popeye Camera really promotes analog cameras and joshi-photo(women’s photography). I had no idea how to open the camera or how to load film. Not to worry because the staff at Popeye Camera are familiar with old cameras. I got excellent instructions from an friendly employee. She taught me how to open the camera, how to load film and how to roll it back to remove it.
I bought a roll of Solaris 800 because it was almost sunset. The camera is fully manual and has no battery (anymore) so no light meter. Obviously I hadn’t expected the need for a light meter, so my first roll consisted of wild guesses on exposure.
I found the rangefinder kind of hard to focus. That’s true of all rangefinders for me. I’ve tried a Mamiya 6 and the prism in the Petri was more difficult to focus. This might be a dirt issue but since I’m going Lomo-style I don’t worry too much about it.
My first test roll didn’t go so well in terms of rewinding. I forgot the clerk’s instruction on how to rewind the film. I played around with it and luckily didn’t break the camera. I ended up opening the camera before winding all the film.
Despite my exposure issues and untimely opening of the camera, I ended up with 32 prints. The print machine compensated for my poor exposures so some frames are almost pure grain. Most of the photos were surprisingly sharp and without little observable effect from dust or mold on the lens. I couldn’t believe my luck!
The only thing marring my joy with this camera is the smell. It smells kinda funky. The inside of the camera looked dusty and a bit moldy maybe. The kind folks at National Photo cleaned the camera. I Fabreezed the case within an inch of it’s life, but it still smells a bit. Maybe it will smell less after I clean it and let it sit in open air.
If you have a Petri 1.9 and are looking for a manual, try this site:
If you are interested in the camera maker Petri/Kuribayashi, this book (which I bought) is very thorough:
This website has (as of Nov. 1, 2012) a listing of Petri Cameras for sale:
REVIEW 2 (a few years later)
I still enjoy using this camera. The case still smells and has been relegated to a place it can do no harm. The pictures still come out sharp.
I’ve christened the camera Grampa Petri after a November trip to Seoul. In cold weather, not freezing or below zero, but in cold and windy weather the camera stops working. I almost tossed the camera figuring that I’d been lucky to get any rolls of film at all. I decided to keep it because it’s kinda cute to use as a shelf decoration.
During a break in a tea house, I started playing with the camera. Once it warmed up, it started working. I had opened the camera and was fiddling around when I heat the sweet sound of the shutter click. Because it doesn’t work in cold weather, like an old man, I named it Grampa Petri.
But I like the camera. It seems to give a rich color.