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#a101 :: Lens mechanism

May 25, 2008

ENLARGEClockwork is a wonderful thing to begin with. Couple it with optics and it carries the promise of alchemy.

I once spent hours poring over used-gear cases at camera shops, try camera shows, flea markets, staring at oblong packages of brushed aluminum and black leatherette.

I was a photo geek …

I could never afford anything too heavy, and always bought things I needed – lens hood, a new wide-angle lens. But handling heavy or obscure instruments, however unrequited by purchase, always repaid me with a frisson of enjoyment almost approaching the sexual.

The timer mechanism is the only thing still working on this machine – the extracted heart of a cheap off-brand compact 35mm from Germany or some eastern-bloc country. I long ago disassembled and discarded the less-compelling remains of its corpse.

You pull down the red-dot tab of rifled aluminum to wind up the timer, then pull the trigger arm to trip the clockwork’s 5-second pulse-and-click. Tsssszzip. Tickpzzzzzzzzzzz *click*.

It’s a happy sound, the sigh of anticipation and the sudden snatching of light.

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