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Book Report: "Photography with the Ciro-FLex"

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Joined: 11 Dec 2004
Posts: 46
Location: NW Ohio, USA

PostPosted: Mon Dec 20, 2004 12:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote


Not sure if this is the appropriate place or not, butÖ

I just finished reading a book titled "Photography with the Ciro-Flex", by Bruce Downs, copyright 1950. I purchased it on Ebay for $5.99 plus shipping. The cover was rough, the binding was coming apart (and described as such by the seller), so a trip to Kinkos to have the original binding cut off and a plastic comb binding installed brought the book up to snuff.

My background is about 20 years of shooting 35mm compact and SLR cameras, mostly scenics and landscapes, plus some sports photography (whitewater kayaking and motorcycle roadracing), as well as a short stint as a portrait photographer at Olan Mills. None of the above is meant as a brag, as Iím sure Iím just a kid in this group. Meant to give you some measure of context.

Back to the book: Itís described on the front cover as a "Basic Book on Twin-Lens Reflex Camera Technique", and thatís an accurate description. The book is 132 pages long, broken into 13 chapters, plus a list of factory accessories for the Ciro-Flex, and then a final glossary / index titled "If you have trouble", which tells you where to look up the answers to the most common problems / questions.

Each chapter is well-written, well illustrated, and logical.

The first three chapters describe in very basic terms the camera and its parts, handling the camera (where I learned that a short guy like me can hold the camera upside-down over his head, so the viewfinder is on the bottom, to shoot over things in the way..), and getting into focus. Chapter 1 goes into some detail about the differences between models A-F, which is where I learned that my girlfriendís dadís Ciro-Flex is a Model C, not an E as I had thought.

From there, chapter 4 talks about harnessing light, where the author talks about the relationship between aperture and shutter speed.

Chapter 5 discusses the film. Sort of amusing, actually. ASA-50 is listed as slow speed film, and ASA-100 as high-speed film. Thereís also a discussion of black and white films, as well as special considerations if youíre going to shoot color. Chapter 5 is more entertaining than helpful, actually.

Chapter 6 talks about lighting, as in how light from different angles affects the texture of the finished print, by showing more of less shadows.

Chapter 7 & 8 talks about composition, makes general recommendations about depth of field, and discusses both still and action photography. It includes a bit about outdoor night shots as well, and thereís even a table that relates shutter speed to motion, as well as adding that the angle of that motion has an effect on shutter speed as well. Good stuff that I was already aware of, but good to see it here.

Chapter 9 is "Order out of Chaos", where composition in nature is discussed.

Chapter 10 is "When the Sun Goes Down", which is flash photography, and includes a table on flashbulb specs and a table titled "Flash Exposure Guide", which is times, distances, and films to use with the various flashbulbs.

Chapter 11 is Filters, most of which applies to BW photography. Handy, as I donít have a single place where all the BW filter data is located. Now I do.

Chapter 12 is Color Photography, which is mostly outdated now. Interesting in a historical context.

Chapter 13 is "Finally", and is a bit of a pep talk about going out and enjoying the hobby or business of photography.

I like the book. A lot. Itís entertaining for the old photos, old film info, and old flash info. But itís also a well-written book that has taught me a few new tricks, and is an excellent primer on the Ciro-Flex series of cameras. I donít know where else I could learn so much so quickly about these old cameras.

Doug Grosjean
Luckey, Ohio

Doug Grosjean
NW Ohion
Various 35mm SLR and P&S cameras,
Kodak Medalist, Rolleicord, and Ciro-Flex,
Burke & James 4x5 Press, and #10 Cirkut
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