Sunday, February 3, 2008

Fritz Ochotta – German 3D Genius

Wanting to learn more about Mr. Ochotta, I sent emails to several stereo photographers in Germany. Not much was found in a Google search for “Fritz Ochotta”. I found an obituary, so I knew in passed away in 2006. In another web page I found a reference to Mr. Ochotta and his stereo cameras so I emailed the page creator. His name is Albert Maly-Motta, and he supplied me with this very useful information:

“Mr. Ochotta was one of the great stereographers of our time. He was a train driver who in his job drove big steam locomotives over the Bavarian mountains until his retirement. Then he "picked up steam" with his hobby, 3D.

He had a very well equipped machinists workshop in his basement and started building his own cameras. First for himself, and then for his friends and members of the German 3D Society.

His choice of the Yashica camera was dictated by the fact that in this camera the shutter mechanism is a unit by itself that can be removed from the camera body by opening just four screws. He built his own electronic equipment for adjusting the perfect synchronism between the shutters. Then he worked out a system for adjusting the transport mechanism.

His cameras became known all over the world. Other than the cameras he constructed a macro device that is now distributed by RBT. He also rebuilt his slide projectors with high intensity xenon lamps. Being a fanatic for tack sharp pictures, the "popping" of the slide in the projector disturbed him to no end. The xenon lamp was the solution to this since its light is originating from a tiny pinpoint (the arc in the lamp is much smaller than the filament of a normal lamp). Through this smaller light source the projector had infinite depth of field-no more popping of the slides in glass-less frames.

Seeing one of his shows was a real eye opener. Perfectly adjusted images (he made his own projector for adjusting the slides) bright light and of course extremely sharp images due to the fact that he only used prime lenses - never a zoom lens- and Fuji 50 ASA VELVIA film.

He was a great naturalist as well as a photographer. He went to Sardinia every summer and shot incredible pictures of the local flora and fauna. He built special devices to release his macro cameras. His shot of a spider leaping at his prey is unforgettable. That one took him several nights of waiting outdoors until one of "his" spiders" leapt thru the light beam.

Fritz Ochotta died in the summer of 2006 and we all miss him greatly. I own two of his cameras myself and just two weeks before his death he sent me back my cameras which I had given him for a total overhaul. They ran flawlessly for more than 10 years but developed slight troubles because of deteriorating foam rubber parts (light traps) in the film path. The little particles of foam worked themselves into the shutter mechanisms and caused them to stick sometimes. Now they'll run probably longer than we will need them, if slide film becomes a thing of the past.”

1 comment:

michael przewrocki said...

george, here you can get worlds best lightseals-in germany of course:
i dont know if its also in english, but his comments about lousy "competitors" are fabilous.

btw: you write contax rtx(1975) but its rts, i had it when i came from olympus(lousy lenses sometimes at that time), later down contax instead of zeiss-lenses.