Friday, March 25, 2011

old shooter

I have added a page about the Foth Derby to my vintage cameras web site. I ended up buying two of these nice little cameras from the same seller on ebay for about ten dollars each. The listings stated that the cameras' shutters were only operating at a single speed, which I imagine scared away some potential bidders. Well, in fact, focal plane shutters such as those in the Foth Derby or the Leica are supposed to work at just one speed. What gets varied to change exposure is not the speed at which the shutter curtains travel, but rather the size of the slit between the curtains.

I was able to get rid of the multitude of pinholes in the shutter on the first camera by painting the curtains with black fabric paint. However, there was also a misalignment of the curtains which caused a light-revealing gap to appear while winding the shutter to the cocked position. Replacing the shutter curtains was a more ambitious restoration project than I was willing to undertake on this little camera. At ten bucks per, getting another camera seemed a more practical solution.

The second camera was less worn in appearance, and it did not have the curtain misalignment of the first. I was able again to get rid of the pinholes with an easy paint job. This time, though, I ran into a problem with the shutter hanging half-way through its travel across the film plane at the top speed settings. I disassembled the shutter assembly several times without really figuring out what exactly was causing the difficulty. I finally discovered that slightly loosening the film-holding brackets on either side of the shutter would provide enough clearance for the curtains to travel smoothly.

The biggest problem in shooting any of the 127 cameras is not the mechanical operation, but rather the film itself. I used Efke 100, which is quite pricey, and it also dries with quite a tight curl which not even a night under a pile of heavy books would undo. Without a proper 127-size film holder for my scanner, getting images from the cork-screwed film proved a frustrating experience. Since I still have a couple of rolls of Efke that I want to put through my 127 cameras, I guess I'll try cobbling together some kind of cardboard film holder for the scanner.


jimgrey said...

The shot on your site of the trees is nice and dramatic. You're brave to wrangle with prezeled negatives.

Julio F said...

Looks like a nice capable shooter - I admire your energy to repair these nice, forgotten cameras.

Maybe you can try 35mm film inside a paper roll of 127.

Mike said...

I did try the 35mm for the first roll through the camera. Worked ok, though one loses the advantage of the bigger 127 format. I was looking at the possibility today of getting a film slitter from a place called Goat Hill Photo. Seems like a reasonable way to get around the silly $8 price for 127.