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Review – Altissa Altix-N Film Rangefinder Camera

How to Shoot with the Altix N

The Altix-N is fully manual without any metering assistance, so you have to know your shutter/aperture calculations by heart. It’s a challenge, but trust me, it’s not the difficult to get a decent exposure. Proper focus will probably be harder to achieve than exposure accuracy if the subject isn’t static, much like any manual focus cameras.

Almost everything is controlled on the lens mount and lens area. The aperture, shutter speed, and focus are all situated near or on the lens, hence the seemingly overwhelming number of markings around the lens.

The tip of the lens (near the front element) contains the aperture ring (f/2.9 to f/22). The roughly knurled focus ring is right behind it with metric and feet markings (black and red, respectively), the DOF scale is right next to the two distance markers.

You’ll find the biggest knob – the lens bayonet mount release knob right after the DOF scale. Lastly, you’ll see the shutter speed control ring – a thin, ridged ring with a red dot. Shutter adjustment is step-less from 1/250 to 1 second + Bulb, which is very handy.

To remove the lens, just turn the large knob counter-clockwise (facing the camera) and the lens will come off easily. Best to grab onto the lens before doing this.

As you get more familiar with the camera, you’ll find that placing these three controls one after another is actually quite intuitive. Choose your shutter speed, estimate the distance, then select your aperture.

Expect your forefinger and thumb to develop callouses as the controls are pretty rough, but despite its age, they turn with reassuring tightness and tactile feel.

Other intricacies:

1) The ASA/DIN knob does nothing. It merely serves as a reminder to the user what film you’ve loaded. The Altix-N has no meter, so film speed means nothing to the camera. Having no meter, you don’t need any batteries to get the Altix-N going as well.

2) The film counter doesn’t advance automatically, you have to manually nudge the exposure count to remind yourself how many shots you’ve taken. I personally just ignore it and shoot until I’ve reached the last frame. It could very well be that my unit has a defective counter, however. If yours move, then it works :P

3) I love the sliding film back instead of the more common, pressure plate/hinged back of more modern cameras for one reason. There’s no need for any foam seals. No seal deterioration = no light leaks. I’m surprised how simple the solution is instead of relying on foam and spring pressure to keep the back tightly sealed.

My baseline for manual focus distance estimation would be my arm’s length, which is roughly 2.5ft, I get pretty accurate focus regardless of what manual focus camera/lens I’m using (such as my M42 lenses on my EOS10D, my scale-focusing Konica C35V, Yashica Electro35 GSN, and Fujica ST-701 cameras) using this technique.

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