Thursday, 24 January 2013

New Toy

I spent the kids inheritance the other day and bought myself another camera, a Franka Solida medium format 6 x 6 folding camera for the exorbitant price of £10 from E-bay. It was advertised as being in good working order but when I received it I found that shutter release on the top of the camera wasn't working and in trying to find out why I managed to jam the shutter as I tried to use the delayed action setting whilst the shutter speed was on "B" and this is a definite no no on any camera.

The beauty though of these old camera's (this one comes from the 50's) is that they are very simple to take apart and adjust and after a Goggle search I found some useful instructions on how to approach the problem and managed to take out the front lens element and sort out the jammed shutter and replace the lens. I then had to recalibrate the focusing and needed a ground glass screen so that I could see what was on the film plane and used the screen out of my Bronica which was quite adequate and manged that adjustment too.

That got me back to where I had started with the problem of the top shutter button not working. There was also a lever on the lens itself which after the shutter was cocked fired the shutter correctly but the linkage from that top button wasn't anywhere near the lever to move it. A quick query on a forum produced the answer to that and all I had to do was to physically twist the whole lens unit around about half an inch and hey presto everything worked! Try that on a modern digital camera!

So now to see if it could actually take pictures. I loaded it up with Ilford Delta 400 and went for a walk around Bungay, used up the 12 shots and got back and developed the film. I was really pleased to see the results hanging up to dry. The exposures looked good which meant that the shutter speeds were probably reasonably accurate ( they can get slow and sticky on old cameras if they are not used), and there didn't appear to be any fogging meaning the bellows were light tight. This I found not to be quite right as I have discovered a small amount of fogging on one edge of some frames but I'm not sure what the cause of that is.

As soon as they were dry I scanned them in and was really pleased with the results - see some examples below. The focusing seemed accurate too after my lens adjustment.

The beauty of this camera is that it folds up small enough to go in a coat pocket and produces medium format size images with all the quality and tonal range that gives me. The reason I got this camera rather than using my Father in laws old Kodak folder is that the viewfinder on the Kodak is incredibly small and difficult to use and its impossible to actually compose a photo. Really it just lets you know that you have the camera pointing in the right direction.

The only other piece of equipment I'm carrying at the moment is an exposure meter but given the latitude of film I think after a few rolls I should be able to guesstimate that close enough. The distance also has to be estimated but as I shall probably be using the camera mainly for landscapes that shouldn't be an issue.

Any comments gratefully received if only to let me know someones reading this!

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