TK Roll 2015–8: Here We Go Again! (Minolta Autocord, Portra 400)

At this point I’m smitten. The venerable Autocord, loaded with Kodak’s ridiculously versatile Portra 400 medium format film, has become my go-to camera for exploring the city. A small point and shoot is always in my pocket, and there are some things for which one of the SLRs or my Instax get the nod (and sometimes even, dare I say, my digital X100S or simply my iPhone’s camera), but the Autocord has that certain something.

When I started getting into photography more, I gravitated towards some images with a certain “old-timey” yet sharp look. When the lenses of a certain highly praised and high prized manufacturer are concerned, there’s an expression among German-speaking photographers to describe that je-ne-sais-quoi: “Leica-Schmelz.”

I’m not sure I’m using that term “correctly,” or that it can even be clearly defined, and I’m also not sure that it’s limited just to Leicas, but to me it seems to describe a certain type of pleasing image quality. Maybe that’s what people mean when they talk about the “liquid, three-dimensional look” of certain lenses. To my eye, the Autocord has it. There’s things to be learned here, about micro and macro contrast, about color rendition, and lens design. But that’s for another time, another place perhaps.

Whether it’s a technical reality, or exists just in the eye of the beholder, or anything in between is of little import. The Autocord’s lens looks stunning. It’s maybe not technically perfect, and it’s clearly more than a half century old, but if it’s the results that count, then who really cares?

In addition, I’ve found it to work very well for my type of photography – with the exception of portraits, for which I find the lens a bit too wide, which is why I haven’t posted any people pictures taken with the Autocord yet. Maybe a close-up lens for the camera is in my future. The TLR slows down the process of seeing and preparing to take an image, but not my ability to actually capture things the way I see them.

Yes, there are “falling lines” in some of the shots of buildings if I’m not careful. The low point of view of the camera seems to contribute to this problem, I haven’t yet fully learned how to deal with this. Yet, that’s a small price to pay for the images I get out of it.

Once again, the scans were pretty much just what I got out of Epson Scan on my V600, with white balance adjustments in Aperture and not much more. Some of the skies seem a little blown out, and I’m sure I could have used more care in the scans, and maybe other scanning software to rectify that. Maybe a quick filter in Aperture would have taken care of it as well. But that would have slowed down the process, and my ability to share these shots with you.

And I really, really want to.

4 thoughts on “TK Roll 2015–8: Here We Go Again! (Minolta Autocord, Portra 400)

  1. Beautiful! I believe my sister-in-law still has her Autocord, I’ll have to ask if I can borrow it sometime. And yes, the mini stools picture is one of my favorites.


  2. The first one (bike) and the little stools are my favorites, but they are all very nice! It’s great to be excited about a gear / film combo, and to be able to go out & work how you want without having to worry about all that.


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