Do you love half-frame? Do you think in twos and threes? Do you long to expand your half-frame repertoire? Meet the glorious, glamorous Bencini Koroll II, the Sofia Loren of the camera world… but be warned, its not just a pretty face.
Antonio Bencini started making cameras in Italy in the 1930s and his company continued into the 70s, producing cameras for a variety of film formats, starting with 127 and 120 roll film and moving through 35mm to 126 and 110 cartridge film.
The most instantly recognisable are the rigid-bodied, aluminium roll film cameras, and my own personal love is the Koroll range for 120 film, particularly the half-frame Bencini Koroll II. Obviously, being made of aluminium, it’s no lightweight. And there are no strap lugs, so you’ll need a bag or, better yet, you can just carry it in your hand so you’re always ready to shoot.
Shutter speeds: 1/50, 1/100, B
Aperture: f9, f16
Tripod screw: yes, metal
Focus: 3ft to infinity
The specs of the Koroll II vary slightly, there’s an almost identical model with f8 and f16 apertures but the same shutter speeds. If you check out Sylvain Halgand’s amazing, incredible site http://www.collection-appareils.fr/Bencini/html/korol_II.php (You’ve never been over there? Go, now…really) you’ll see a slightly more 60s looking Koroll II with shutter speeds of 1/30, 1/60 and 1/125 and three aperture settings: f8, f16 and f22.
For me there are many joys to the Koroll II: the wonder of using something that’s fifty years old and wondering who else has taken pictures with it. The looks you get when people realise that you’re holding something that looks so beautiful and strange and you’re taking pictures with it and, most of all, the joy of half-frame.
Sometimes your eye is taken by contrasts and you want to create a diptych, near and far, big and small, light and dark. Sometimes you just want to shoot and random and see what serendipity chooses to give you. Sometimes you only want a single frame on its own. It doesn’t matter, it’s all there in your hand, encased in aluminium like a lovely silver goddess.