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07-28-2011, 07:15 AM - 2 Likes   #1
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vintage folding cameras

There have been a couple of recent posts about these - and as I love these gizmos I thought I'd share some examples.

Essentially, the main things that can be wrong with an old folder: the bellows leak, the lens is cloudy, the shutter or focus are stuck. But depending on the severity, all of these problems can be fixed easily. Oh, and sometimes you'll need to re-set infinity, especially if you take the lens apart for cleaning.

Pre-war the lenses are uncoated, post war there's a coating. Shooting with uncoated lenses is different, the colors are more immediate, though overall contrast may be lower. Also, with folders, keep in mind that a triplet is often better or just as good as a 4 element lens - and that large apertures are not something these folders do well (most of the time).

OK some samples.

Voigtlander Bessa I from 1950s, Vaskar 3 element lens:









1938 Voigtlander Bessa 66 uncoated Skopar 4 element lens:









1937 Certo Super Sport Dolly, uncoated Xenar 4 element lens:










1923 Goerz Rollfilm Tenax uncoated Dogmar 4 element lens:









The Dogmar is an amazing lens - here's a crop of the previous picture:




1921 No. 1 Folding Pocket Kodak Series II (most Kodaks this old have bad bellows.):









My oldest camera: 1913 No.2 Folding Pocket Brownie - next time I'll tape up the light leaks and see if I can get a better result.







07-28-2011, 11:17 AM   #2
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Beautiful.
People spend a bunch of money on gadgets and programs that make their pictures look like that.

Nice job.
07-28-2011, 11:50 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nesster Quote
love these gizmos
QuoteOriginally posted by Nesster Quote
1937 Certo Super Sport Dolly
How could we not love something that sexy?, no wonder its called Dolly

Guess you seen Andy's post on readyset? Was able to pick one up
at a flea market for $1.General condition of body(int/ext),lens,bellows
is in as new condition.Shutter movement has lost abilty of kinetic to potential
energy transfer,tempur of movement is gone.

No problem to use fab'd lens cap as shutter.
With un coated lens as you mentioned,thinking maybe some longer exposures in evening,
trying to boost contrast a bit with raking sunlight might be fun.
Readyset has 2 apeture settings, "Bright & Hazy".Ill stick to bright.
overall focal length around 4 inches(108mm),"Bright"apeture calipers at 5.1mm
108/5.1 gives me 21.17(F/22), figure my time from there with little selenium thing.


Have 1 roll Tmax 100,1 of Ektar 100,little too "splurgy" going to save for mammy TLR,
about to head to freestyle,What would you suggest?
07-28-2011, 12:50 PM   #4
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sounds nice... if you do your own B&W, all the 100 or slower films... with color, I've managed with 100 and 160.

07-28-2011, 12:59 PM   #5
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I'll have to dig out the other folders that the missus has - theres prob about half a dozen.

But heres probably the oldest, Serial 2920 - apologies its sandwhiched between two TLR's.

How difficult/worthwhile would it be fixing up the bellows on this fella Nesster do you think ?
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/post-your-photos/153540-machinery-old-memories.html
07-28-2011, 01:10 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by adr1an Quote
But heres probably the oldest, Serial 2920 - apologies its sandwhiched between two TLR's.

How difficult/worthwhile would it be fixing up the bellows on this fella Nesster do you think ?
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/post-your-photos/153540-machinery-old-memories.html
That's a nice looker, but: looks like the bellows is long gone... and that's a large folder, not 120. Take it into a dark room with the back open, and shine a small flashlight at various angles all over the bellows, and watch the other side - you'll see all the leaks. If there's only a few small ones, you can use black fabric paint or silicone goo (e.g. for car parts) to paint the spots with the leaks. If you're past that, then you have to figure a way to roll 120 into the larger film space. Probably tin foil or something to hold the source roll, and use the spool in the camera as the take up. If you develop yourself you're set, otherwise you'll have to respool the used film back onto a 120 spool.
08-03-2011, 01:35 PM   #7
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Nesster, those are some beauties for sure! As you probably have a boat load of old film cameras by now, do you have a personal favourite?
08-03-2011, 01:47 PM   #8
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Thanks, most of them were very cheaply bought... I'd be hard put to pick a favorite, as each has some qualities - I enjoy shooting with these oldsters, more than I do with even cameras from the '70s and '80s, and I like those better than the modern ones. In fact, I'd have a hard time justifying something like a Fuji X100 or the latest Pentax DSLR, on that basis.

Let's see - the Bessa I was my second folder, it was at some point worked on by Mr. Kreckel (certo06) and is in great condition. I like how it does landscapes. The Bessa 66 was my third (I think) and it is so small and cute... but in need of some reconditioning. The Super Sport Dolly with the big lens is great, though the rf doesn't quite work... I just found another one, with a fast Tessar and the 6x4.5 mask, that I'll leave till after I move house to try. The Hapo 10 was a real pleasant surprise - it has a persistent bellows leak, like the Dolly, and I have to do some real repair. The Goerz, now maybe that is the favorite, great lens and nicely made, and so old! That and the Bessa I are maybe in the best shape.

In non-folding cameras - I really like the Medalist but 620 is a pain, and I don't use it as often as I ought to... My fave TLR is the Autocord, I got it CLA'd and now have new leather to put on it.

10-19-2014, 07:07 PM   #9
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I have two of the old 6x9 folders, one is a Franka Werke Rolfix II, which I bought on ebay for the purpose of trying to get the bellows to fit on my Agfa Billy Record II.
The Billy is on the left, the Rolfix is on the right. I liked the Rolfix too much to chop it up for parts, so I use it for my B/W folder in 6x9.


In the background left to right is my Yashica-Mat, then a 6x9 box camera, Traveler 120, and an unused Brownie 616.

This is a recent shot in B/W on the Rolfix:



I wound up sending the Billy to Certo6 for a new bellows and I just got it back in wonderful working order. I wanted a blue bellows, but I will settle for the black bellows he installed.
I have a roll of Ektar 100 in it now and will process that when I get it finished up.
10-21-2014, 10:45 AM   #10
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I have an Ikonta 531/16 with a coated Novar 75/3.5 triplet that's pretty fun. It does OK, but it's not a stellar performer by modern standards. Lotta messed up pictures, sometimes it works. I prefer to think of it as my "toy camera". I find Ektar has quirky results if you miss exposure very much, so it's perfect for sunny 16 shooting with that camera.

It's "guess-everything": guess the range, guess the exposure, guess parallax framing corrections, guess whether flare is going to trash the image, guess whether Ektar is going to ruin everything... Challenge mode activated.

Not my pic, looks like this:







For serious photography, I love love love my GS645. Planars are few and far between, let alone multicoated with an exposure meter. I'd love a GF670 but it's just too much money. The GS645 is a good balance for me, and it makes a stellar travel camera. Between my XA and my GS645 I can travel real light with 2 complete rangefinder cameras, 2 different fields of view, 2 meters, 2 different films loaded, etc. Lots of flexibility and peace of mind.

They are kind of an ugly, cranky little duckling. I'd say about as reliable as a Nikonos V. My first one spent 3 months in KEH's shop while they tried to fix an intermittent shutter problem, they eventually had to give up and send me a new one. Frankly they have a reputation for this crap - don't buy one without a warranty.

Not my pic, but looks like this:



2 handheld shots stitched together, either wide open or close to it. I confess I don't even remember what film - probably Reala?


You can definitely see some falloff, it shows up as a stitch line 2/3 of the way across, but it's pretty sharp right down to the limit of my scanner (V500). Here's a 1:1 crop from the full size image (jpg compressed twice unfortunately). Judging by the stitch line, this would be a corner crop from the right-side image. About as good as can be expected given "viewing conditions".



Works pretty well on people too. Not a whole lot of subject isolation until you get up close, but them's the breaks with a normal lens. All of these are on Portra 400.




Last edited by Paul MaudDib; 10-21-2014 at 01:31 PM.
10-21-2014, 08:56 PM   #11
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Processed first roll from newly repaired Agfa Billy Record II,

Some shots seemed worth keeping! :-)










This one from tripod, f:32 and 1/5th sec using timer.

10-23-2014, 12:54 PM   #12
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I am about to try some close up b/w shots of some pale pink roses in a vase. The scale focus is marked at one meter., and the depth of focus at that distance is very very small. From the lens to the body is about 4" and is just about the limit of the DOF at a large aperture, which I want due to background clutter.
Now I am at a quandary. Do I measure from the lens to subject, or from body to subject??
If I do not get a reply within a few minutes, I will shoot two frames, measuring each way. Film is not that expensive, but I would like to know before I use film for an experiment to find out.

Thanks!
10-23-2014, 11:38 PM   #13
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The results of my experiment are rather interesting, I will post pictures later. The upshot is that I need to do more experimenting.
I measured 39" from camera body and the best focus seems to be about 44" to 46" with the scale set to one meter.
I measured from the lens and the best focus seems to be a few inches back still.
With the scale set at one meter, I have some wiggle room to shorten that some more, and I am fairly sure that will actually be closer to a meter with the lens pegged.
At full aperture the lens is quite soft, and focus is somewhat difficult to determine, however that makes an interesting possibility as a soft focus portrait tool. I would not try to use this for any work requiring fine detail at a large aperture, or close focus.
The lens seems happy enough at 16, 22 and 32. At 8 I think it starts to get soft, and is unsuitable for scenery or landscape.
I may put a groundglass on it and check infinity, as I have seen photos using this camera/lens combo that were tack sharp with a 16 aperture for landscape.
10-24-2014, 09:20 AM - 1 Like   #14
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This one was shot, measured 39" from camera body:



and this one was shot, measured 39" from lens:

10-28-2014, 01:35 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Paul MaudDib Quote
For serious photography, I love love love my GS645. Planars are few and far between, let alone multicoated with an exposure meter. I'd love a GF670 but it's just too much money. The GS645 is a good balance for me, and it makes a stellar travel camera.
Wonderful results you got too --- I still kick myself for putting a good-condition GS645 down on the table, someone immediately grabbed it because the price was so good. But then, I'd just sold a 670 and was feeling Fuji'd out.

QuoteOriginally posted by 45 Mike Quote
Processed first roll from newly repaired Agfa Billy Record II,
Great result as well. I have pictures where test focus - on a wire table, with a sign to say what's my setting. But that didn't really educate me that much Experimenting with the 120 cameras is about the most fun I can think of with cameras.
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