The Elioflex2: My Grandfather's Camera
15 Jul 2007
Fourteen years before my birth, in 1969, my maternal grandfather, Secondino Ferrero, died at the age of forty-two. Although we never met, there are some things I do know about him: he was a tall, handsome, dark-haired man, he looked like an actor, and he loved photography.
Secondino took pictures of his daughter (my mother, just a girl in the 1950's), his beloved wife (my granny Elvira, she's seventy-nine now), the small village where he was living (in the far north-west of italy), and his friends (he had a lot of friends).
I feel a sense of excitement when I take his camera in my hands. I like to imagine that if he were alive today, he would give it to me and ask me to photograph him dancing with his wife, hugging my mom, laughing with his friends.
The Elioflex2 is a 6X6cm camera that uses 120 films, made in Italy by the Ferrania industries in 1952 (the production starded in 1950 and ceased in 1953). It looks like a little black box, a very popular shape in the early 1950's (the famous sovietic camera Lubitel and the japanese Mamiyaflex are two exemples, both inspired by the even more famous Rolleiflex and by the Ikoflex, made in Germany by the Zeiss industries). The Elioflex2 it's not so user friendly, but you can have a lot of fun with it. You have to value the focus, calculating the distances and the diaphragm opening. If, like me, you don't have an exposure meter, you have to value times as well. Oh, and also, you can't trust what you see in the framing screen and it consistently scratches the film.
Nevertheless, I love it. It makes me think of a man I've never met, my grandfather Secondino.
(Special thanks to Polly Cole for helping me with the english edition of this story. Find her at http://www.jpgmag.com/people/funkiepj)