What Started it ALL!

November 14, 2012  •  1 Comment

As a senior in high school I was intrigued by photography as an art form but had never owned anything other than a cheap camera.  My neighbor owned a business in the Houston Bus Depot and had a sailor sell him a camera for $7, enough for a ticket home.  The neighbor sold it to me for $7 and I was elated, a real 35mm camera!  The King Regula was made in Germany and had a precision feel to it that I could not describe.  There were actual controls on this thing and I had no idea how they worked, what they meant or how I would ever learn a thing so complicated.  I took it with me to a local camera store where I bought a hand held meter for $17.  The store owner showed me how to use the meter and how to transfer those setting to the camera.  I was in business!  The camera was equipped with a non-coupled rangefinder, meaning I could adjust focus which read out on a dial on top of the camera and then that setting had to be made on the lens as close as I could "guess".  It was haphazard but damn, it really turned out sharp images!!!  I later learned that the camera was fitted with what's known as an extinction meter located in the long slit above the lens.  Too complicated to go into here, I never used it for good reason.  I shot my first roll of film with this thing, Tri-X 36 exposure and ASA 400; had it developed and printed and I was in heaven!  I promptly bought 10 rolls of Kodachrome 64 and left for Colorado.  I had no idea of the inflexibility of slide film to exposure errors but shot profusely (for back then) using up all ten rolls (360 shots) and buying 4 more rolls.  Back home I spent a small fortune and had the film developed.  When I got the slides in my hands I was astonished at the superb colors, the accurate reproduction of what I had seen on my trip.  I bought a slide projector (thus establishing a pattern that continues to this day of buying more stuff that I absolutely NEED!) and projected the images for anyone I could coerce into watching!  I loved that camera.  When I finished college, I bought Canon F-1's and sold my beloved King Regula to a friend who promptly dropped it out of a canoe!  16 years ago, I discovered eBay and found an identical camera in perfect condition which I obtained for $16 (inflation!) and the camera now occupies a special place on my shelf and in my heart.


Comments

Jim Parker(non-registered)
I had the same experience my first year in college, with an Argus C-3. With all its quirks, it was possible to make a good picture occasionally. I had three lenses for it, which had to be installed by unscrewing a small retaining cap, plucking off a gear and then unscrewing the C-Mount lens. Repeating the process in reverse to put the new lens on. I had the auxiliary viewfinder, too, which helped visualize the scene, if you got the parallax adjustment dialed in properly. When I got a real SLR (Minolta SRT-101), the Argus got loaned to my girlfriend, who I eventually lost touch with.
Saw on eBay -- had to have it.
Great post, Jim!
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