Because that is correct, I only have really used my Riga 8×11 cameras a couple of times. I cannot say that the high value or scarcity on the market makes me not taking them on trips and such, not at all. They’re insured and to be honest, the insurer would not be very happy to hear I took one of them abroad to say, the sandy Egypt and toss it around in the Valley of the Kings. But that is not a reason either, really.
I feel they are not, well, shooters for these modern times. When I take some photographs with a Riga, I have the feeling that the viewfinder fills up with ammo trains heading for the front, somewhere in occupied Europe, 1942. When I feel the subtle tremors of the shutter release, and the heft of the camera, I suddenly feel like a trainee in an SOE camp in England. If I take some night time pictures, I am almost expecting the fatal shout “Halt! Wer da?”. You want to know what was it to be attending the Chamberlain’s addressing the Commons in 1940? Look at the Brabazon photograph and hold a Riga in your hand, you’ll know.
Of course I am ranting here, that is why this post belongs to the “Minox rant” category. But, there is a shred of truth here, you know: the Riga is an old camera, and a Minox camera it is not. Not a Minox camera in the sense we know it to be: dual shutter blades, COMPLAN lens, etc. No. It is a camera that uses Minostigmat lens which at its best, is not an exceedingly good lens to take pictures with, not when you are used to Complan or Minox glass.
The quirks of the film chamber are making the scratches extremely possible, and the photographs taken with a Minostigmat lens may very well be not the sharpest around the corners. That is why most owners of Riga 8×11 cameras are not using them for photography, but as collector’s items. They are valuable indeed, and the prices will go up, as they have done so for the last 80+ yrs.
That said, the photographs I took with my Riga cameras have a “Riga” feeling about them. Cannot explain it.