Buying a 1960’s camera in Hanoi

So I was walking around the old quarter of Hanoi when I saw a sign for ‘retro cameras’ and had to check it out. Entering the shop was like being back in Melbourne, if there was a coffee machine I could have sworn I was back home. Most of the cameras on the shelf were either broken in some way or too big to consider as a travel film camera, but one small Olympus took my eye. From 1964 the Olympus pen D2 was the smallest working camera in the shop, although with no working light meter or focus feedback at all it would be difficult to shoot. The guy in the shop was lovely enough to let me borrow it and shoot a roll of film through it before coming back the next day to see if I wanted it. 

The camera itself is half frame, meaning you get double the amount of shots per roll of film. So I went out to the streets with a phone as a light meter and 72 shots to burn through. Using the camera was loads of fun, the vertical nature of the framing made it feel similar to shooting with a mobile phone but having to guess the distance from my subject didn’t give me much confidence in how the shots were going to turn out. But with that many frames and a day to shoot I took a bit of liberty and went crazy. I finished the roll in around 4 hours, trying to mix it up between portraits of friends, locals and street scenes. I went to drop the film off at the local developer, paying a whopping $2 and getting them an astonishing 4 hours later via dropbox. 

Getting the photos back was the best bit, because it’s a half frame camera each jpeg that was given to me as two split images, giving a great context to each shot and something that I am already trying to use to my advantage with the next roll. Some of the images were woefully out of focus but to my surprise most of them were well exposed and the ones that were in focus were fairly sharp.

Anyway, enough talking. Images are below, hopefully there will be many more to come. 

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