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Buried Treasure

While at my mother-in-law's house this weekend, she indicated she'd been cleaning out the storage room in her finished basement. She spoke about a few boxes containing some of her late husband's photo gear. This was news to me as I thought Valerie had taken all of it in college and gave it to me as my wedding gift.

Not so, it turned out. In one box I found a meter nearly identical to the one I purchased recently - only better. It's in nearly mint condition, has a nice chain, a hard case, and functions perfectly. It's actually older than the one I purchased, at least based on the inclusion of the DIN number in addition to the ASA film speed, but it's otherwise indistinguishable from the meter I bought. I think I'll resell the purchased item and keep the one I found today.

The second box may as well have been a treasure chest to me. Here were several original boxes for lenses and the metering finder. Inside the box for the 135mm lens was a hard case and a lens hood! There's also a different type of focusing screen for my camera, and the original leather fitted case in nearly mint condition. There was an empty box for a 35mm f2.8 wide-angle lens which makes me hopeful that there may be more photo gear in that storage room buried in the hundreds of boxes.

Then there was this glorious discovery:

35mm slr camera

This is a Pentacon FM 35mm SLR camera, manufactured in EAST Germany sometime between 1958 and 1961. There are a number of quirks about the operation: M42 screw-mount lens instead of the snap-in bayonet mount we're all used to, no lever for film advance - you turn a knob instead, the aperture and mirror do not return automatically to their starting positions after the shutter (though I don't know if this is simply broken), and several other quirks. I don't yet know if it works, but I plan to run the roll of 100-speed color through it since it's only 12 exposures, just to see if it's usable. I can't see this becoming a camera of any regular use (the advances of the Nikon F alone are huge), but at the least it's nice to have a piece of photographic history.

I'm starting to get the impression that Valerie's father was a serious amateur photographer, or at least somebody who dove head first into his hobbies. His Nikkormat slide projector and a presumably unused film enlarger are still in the garage, and who knows what other gear is stashed in a box somewhere. I have to admit that there's a part of me hoping to discover a medium format camera or at least that missing 35mm lens as my mother-in-law continues to dig through storage.