FINALLY getting my Pentacon Six to play nice.

Several months ago, one of my readers was kind enough to provide me with two cameras and a lot of medium-format film. I’ve already had plenty of success with one of the cameras, my Nikon F2S (“Nikon Athena”), but the second camera – a medium-format Pentacon Six SLR that I haven’t nicknamed yet – has been rather hit-or-miss.

When I say “hit-or-miss,” I’m saying that there are times when this camera is right on point. For example, I caught some great shots of the Saratoga, Corinth and Hudson Railway train with this camera. However, there were other times when the film didn’t advance properly, and a photographic trip to Paper Mill Covered Bridge in Vermont was a wasted trip when the camera mangled the film.

Listen. I have major photo projects coming up in the next few months, and I need to choose my top cameras – film and digital – for these projects. I can’t shoot images and think in the back of my mind, “Jeez, I better re-shoot these shots or else I’ll find out the camera messed up three weeks later when the film comes back.”

With that in mind, I resolved that as much as I think this camera could be a powerful workforce in my arsenal if I could actually COUNT on it working, I went with an ultimatum – give me decent shots on this next roll, or its life will be spent gathering dust on a shelf. And that’s no idle threat.

A few weeks ago, I helped my girlfriend around her garden. You know, the things that boyfriends do – mulch here, water there, move this plant from Spot A to Spot B, all of that. And after doing all that hard work, I took the Pentacon Six – which had a roll of Fuji Astia 220 in it (220 film can give you 24 square exposures, whereas 120 film limits you to 12 exposures in most medium format cameras). And the Pentacon Six can shoot 220 film.

Okay, let’s see what kind of photos I can pull. Remember, Pentacon Six … do your job properly. There’s a town-wide garage sale this Saturday, so earn your keep.

So let’s see. Here’s the suet cake bird feeder. This unit holds two suet cakes, and the songbirds and woodpeckers have figured out that by squeezing through the bars, they can eat the suet without Mr. Bushy-Tail and the rest of his squirrel family helping themselves to snacky suet.

Suet Feeder. Pentacon Six camera, Fuji Astia 220 film. Photo (c) 2022 Chuck Miller, all rights reserved.

Holy crap, that’s right and tight.

Okay, let’s see how things look for the plants. There’s a corner of her garden where she recently added some common houseleeks, also known as “hens and chicks.” Let’s see how tight I can make this.

Hens and Chicks. Pentacon Six camera, Fuji Astia 220 film. Photo (c) 2022 Chuck Miller, all rights reserved.

Okay. Now for the big test.

On my way back from my college reunion, I stopped at a local farmstand / orchard between Clinton and Westmoreland. I wanted to bring her a plant that would attract butterflies and bees and other pollenating creatures. And there it was. A French Hollyhock plant.

Yeah. Chuck’s getting that.

95 miles later, I delivered the plant. A few days later, we planted it in her garden. One big hole dug, a little peat moss, a little ground soil, lots of water, in goes the plant, more water, more soil, and then a thick coating of mulch on top. And it latched comfortably and permanently in her garden soil.

You want to see?

It looks like this.

French Hollyhock. Pentacon Six camera, Fuji Astia 220 film. Photo (c) 2022 Chuck Miller, all rights reserved.

Okay. Okay.

The Pentacon Six has NOT earned a nickname … yet.

It has not earned any new leathers … yet.

But I’ll give it another try down the road. Another shot or two.

Essentially … I’ll give it another chance.

I know it can come up with photos like this.

I just need those photos on a consistent basis.