Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Shooting the Delco 828

The Delco 828 is the last version of the Argus Model M, produced by a Philadelphia company which bought the dies from Argus after WWII.  The construction of the camera was simplified by making the lens mount rigidly fixed, and the lens was now a two-element design rather than the Anastigmat triplet in the original design by Gustave Fassin.

My Delco 828 is in pretty nice shape except for a missing rear viewfinder lens.  In order to use the camera I found it helpful to remove the front view lens as well so I would have a clear if restricted view of the subject.

As the photos show, the Delco is capable of making some nice images with the two-element lens stopped down.  The central portion of the images seem about as sharp as those from the Model A triplet.

Unlike the triplet, however, the sharpness of the image falls off sharply toward the edges.  Keeping that in mind, it is still possible to get perfectly acceptable images if the primary subject is placed appropriately in relation to the background.  It is basically the mind-set required for using a box camera.

Opening up the Delco's lens to its f9.7 maximum aperture causes the whole image to go soft.  That still might not have been a deal breaker for the original users who were most likely getting back wallet-sized prints from the local drugstore.  Bigger enlargements, however, are out of the question unless you are in pursuit of a 19th Century pictorialist style.


Jim Grey said...

This is the only version of this camera I've ever seen in person -- I've stumbled upon them in antique stores a time or two at outrageous prices. This camera seems reasonably capable within its limits.

Mike said...

I picked it up at a yard sale last Fall. I didn't have much expectation of being able to use the Delco, but I've been interested for a long time in the history of Argus,and particularly in the role of the designer, Gustave Fassin.

The camera's acquisition got me to thinking about how to use the defunct 828 format. It turns out that it is possible to just roll some 35mm film onto the 828 reels with no backing paper. An added benefit is that you can get 15-20 exposures using the 35mm whereas the original 828 rolls only yielded eight frames.

Now, I'm thinking I need to take a closer look at some of the Kodak 828 cameras. I had a Pony 828 back in the 1960's. The Bantam line is also interesting, though there are some additional issues with the film advance in those cameras.

Jim said...

The Pony 828 is less interesting to me because there is a more-or-less equivalent 35 mm version; I'd expect the two cameras to perform similarly. If I were to get into 828 I'd be more interested in the Bantam though I'm not familiar with its advance challenges.

Mike said...

Kodak 828 film had a single edge perforation for each frame which allowed the Bantam to have a double exposure prevention feature. If you are using standard 35mm with the sprocket holes, you need to keep a little button depressed while you advance the film so the pin doesn't get caught in each hole. The Bantams are a great deal because most people don't want to deal with 828. I'm going to try snagging one today on eBay.

Julio F said...

I thought Delco made only electrical equipment for cars. Beautiful little instrument.