Your local thrift store can be the best place to buy your next camera. Most people don't have the time to sell their old cameras on craigslist or ebay...donation is easy and helps out others. The Salvation Army or the Goodwill are good places to comb through and sometimes you get lucky.
A friend and I decided to hit up our local thrift store because she needed a manual 35mm camera on the cheap…and I wanted to find something really old that could still take pictures.
We told the woman behind the register we wanted to look at all the cameras in the glass case. She started to pull out the newer, sleeker looking cameras… I told her to not bother with the newer ones, I want the old ones. The older the better, I told her. Leather and metal > plastic. We checked apertures, shutters, light meters galore! After 20 or so cameras, we had made our picks and purchases.
One of the cameras I left with was a Franka-Kamerawerk Solida I. And with a little bit of research/shooting I came up with some pleasing information. This is a medium format folding camera from Germany. Her shutter speed ranges from 1/200th -1/25th plus a bulb feature. There is a hotshoe (not quite sure if it’s synced…) and a cable release threading. It took me a while to figure out how to actually take a picture. The shutter release is in the normal position but you have to cock it first, kinda like a gun, down by the focus ring. Focusing, as with all non parallax cameras, is hit or miss. But with a 75mm glass lens, this baby is sharp. So sharp in fact, she is very unforgiving with focus. With a little more practice and/or a measuring tape I’ll harness this beast of a camera.
The best part?…It was about the same as the cost of D+P on a roll of 35mm B&W…$25