I haven’t been to Vieux Quebec for years, and even then it wasn’t my idea to be there. As a grownup, Quebec offers many opportunities for fun. I haven’t been on a winter holiday in years, and even then it wasn’t my idea to be there. As a grownup, winter offers many opportunities for fun.
I’ve avoided winter for years now, and it’s mostly because I’ve been too
busy cheap to buy proper winter gear. Honestly, it makes all the difference. We’ve been outfitted from head to toe in technical innovation for this week, and it’s made things pleasurable. Even though it’s only floating around the freezing mark.
The journey to Quebec was fraught with low-visibility driving. It was a longer drive than planned; rather tiring due to the attention required and the relentless unsolicited advice from my beloved copilot. We settled into the flop-house and get acquainted with the area.
Vieux Quebec is a slice of Europe not usually enjoyed in North America. It’s tightly packed, rickety, expensive and surrounded by a stone wall. The whole city has turned from a fortress against the invading British (then French, then British again) into well-oiled tourist-trap, but the charm is simply irresistible. You have no choice but to go with the flow, trip over your broken Conversational French and overpay for everything. It’s a guilty pleasure.
I made the decision to roll only with the Zeiss Tengor for this trip. I’ve been meaning to run more film through it, since it deserves the opportunity to shine. In my prior review, I rave about how wonderful it is, how underrated, how it’s the best of its species. Then I left it to die in a Rubbermaid tote of underused belongings next to my GA645. Time to put up or shut up.
This sort of area suits the KrautBox well. There is room to move and time to compose. The Zeiss doesn’t like to be rushed. The shutter release has a throw that feels like four or five yards, and it helps to rest the camera on something to make sure you’re not shaking or inadvertently adjusting your composition. Feed it enough light, give it some time to breathe and the Tengor rewards you with sharp, atmospheric images. They feel vintage, right out of the box. (see what I did there?)
This shot was with the auxiliary internal lens set at mid-rage. the 2-8m portion is tack-sharp, and the background isn’t far out. Everything about the Zeiss Box is guesswork, but your hunches get more accurate quickly.
I’m not sorry I took the Box on this adventure. I shot only one roll (8 exposures, and six were keepers), but in all honesty I probably would have shot around the same with the Rolleiflex. The circumstances just didn’t befit careful photography. Much easier to whip out the iPhone and snap. If the trip had been focused on photography instead of a family tourist escape, things would have been different.
Other points of interest were the Petite Champlain area, below the wall and closer to the river. Lots of great places to eat and blow your hard earned money. The Funiculaire tram makes short work of the 30-flights of stairs required, for $2.25. When you get to the bottom, every corner is picture perfect.
(no film was for sale here, Zut alors!)
Since we had our car, we chose to visit Val Cartier, a year-round family fun park. There was tubing, rafting and over 30 buses full of high-school students. It was a hormone-fuelled social experiment. It was also a lot of fun, and a high point of our trip.
Our business was open and hopping while we were away. Here’s how we roll when we’re “out of the office”.
We came to VQ for the Winter Carnaval, and we took in most of the activities available to us in the time we were there. The temperature never got below -10C, and we were treated to a beautiful snowfall the final night we went to the Plains of Abraham and Battlefield Park. The photos are gritty, low-detail and LSD palette.
So, whats the verdict on the Zeiss? I like it. It’s got a lot of character, and even more heart. It aims to please. My issue with the Zeiss, and I can likely paint all cameras of this design with the same brush, is the “close enough” mentality of it. This approach has never worked for me, and it’s not because I don’t like imperfect images. I’d prefer to make those images as a matter of intent as opposed to an in-built quality (or lack) in the camera. That said, the Zeiss is capable of fantastic, sharp results under a set of specific conditions. I won’t be getting rid of this camera, but I will refrain from using it unless it can hit a home-run. The old box is a great picnic camera, perfect for drives in the mountains and weekends at the seashore. The Tengor is a camera for holidays via train or steamship. The Tengor works best in the 1940’s.
Monochrome photos in this set courtesy of the monocle-wearing, pointy-helmeted Kaiser, the Zeiss Tengor 56/2 loaded with HP5 that I pull-processed at 200. Scans are from the Epson 3200 Photo. Colour images beamed from the ubiquitous iPhone.
Old Quebec is an endless feast for anyone with a camera. I’m considering returning in fall with Ektar and a Rolleiflex. Join me?