The Praktica VLC2, looks stunning with its waist-level viewfinder, but does it take nice pictures to match?
There’s just something about a camera with a waist-level viewfinder that looks high-quality, which is why I paid a little more than I usually do for this camera. The Praktica VLC2 is blessed with good looks anyway, but paired with the top-down viewfinder option it looks stunning. Looking down through the top of the camera presents you with a bright super-clear view looking like a really high detail LCD screen. While this is not so remarkable these days, it must have been mind-blowing when this camera was new, in 1976.
Back to front
Because a top down view gives you one less mirror than usual, the image is reversed. As a result aiming the camera using the viewfinder takes a little getting used to. It’s a little hard to describe, but you know how text is reversed in a mirror? Imagine that text is now six-foot high letters saying HELLO in front of you. If you’re looking at the text normally to move from the H to the E, you turn to the right. The same is true when looking through the viewfinder, you turn right, but because the text is reversed (O⅃⅃ƎH) the view moves to the left.
Wide angle view
The lens I used with it was one I bought around the same time, a Soligor 28mm, dating back to around 1973. The 28mm focal length offers quite a wide angle view compared to what the human eye sees. It’s like having taken a couple of steps back and works well for landscapes and buildings. It felt like a good match for the camera and what I wanted to do with it. I paid a little more than usual for the lens too as wider angle lenses tend to be more expensive.
The film I used was a new roll of Fuji Velvia 50. At 50 ISO it is quite a slow film, needing a lot of light to work well. It’s also a slide film producing a transparency that can be projected instead of negatives and it is notoriously sensitive to the correct exposure. My intention was to get detailed colorful shots by using a tripod, allowing the slow shutter speed required by such a slow film. Again the film was a little more expensive, I wanted to have the best possible combination for this shoot.
Not what I was hoping for
Well first up, I’ll admit to having accidentally opened the back of the camera about 6 shots in. However that only really accounts for a couple of images which had to have the light leak cropped off. The rather odd colours on some of the shots I just don’t know the reason for.
Fuji Velvia 50
Fuji Velvia 50
Expired: Jan 2018
Format/Type: Colour Slide
Full Total: £11.18
Cost per shot: £0.31
My Rating: 4
Even though Fuji Velvia is fussy about exposure the pics aren’t quite a good as I was hoping. That said, the Praktica VLC2 was a very enjoyable camera to shoot with – I almost exclusively used a tripod and with the top-down viewfinder every shot felt like an event. The higher-than-usual price in the end probably wasn’t justified based on results – I can take better pictures with much cheaper hardware – but it’s a camera I am really glad that I own.