I found this camera in a junk bin with other folding cameras. I bought a couple of them, I couldn’t resist. I chose this one due to the “made in occupied Japan” sign on the viewfinder. It dates the camera between 1947 to 1951. Anyway, it took me ages to get around to looking at it, due to its condition and the number of other cameras lying around my home.
When I did finally look at it, I discover the front element was stuck solid. Therefore it could not focus at all. I wouldn’t have minded if it was stuck at infinity, but it was stuck at 9ft. Nevermind, super camera fixer to the rescue…or super camera fixer in training to the rescue. Strike superman pose now.
Out comes the screwdrivers, out comes the dentist tools. Gee whizz, this camera has the smallest screws I have ever seen.
Once I got the distance gauge off I could see some green residue on the brass lens thread. Brute force or at least middle-aged lady force would not move that lens a millimeter. Vinegar and sake cup to the rescue. I left it for an hour and tried again.
Next issue, after I had cleaned the residue and lens…recalibrating the focus of the lens, but how?
I took an old piece of film and taped a focusing screen to it. Then I set an LED torch on a shelf at the other side of the room, put the camera on B and pressed the shutter. With the shutter open, I focused the newly screwed in lens on the torch. Genius. I now knew where infinity was so I screwed the distance gauge back on the front.
And now for testing with film….gosh I hope it worked.
The very first image is from when I first put the film in before I found out the distance was stuck. That is why the building, at infinity, is out of focus. BUT look at the rest of the film, Yahoooooooo I fixed the camera. It squeaks a bit when moving the focus from infinity, I should have put some lubricant on the threading. It does work better at infinity as the minimum distance is 3.5ft anyway.
I was so happy, and the camera was in such a state, that I spruced it up. Using only a magic marker, glue and leftover material I give you the new Semi Leotax post-war version. I decided to keep as much of the original cover as I could.
Well, that was fun.
6 thoughts on “Semi Leotax”
I think this is my favorite post ever here. Camera I’ve never heard of, plus guerrilla repairs, plus lens collimation, plus a clever and attractive customization? Oh my yes!
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After I looked up collimation…yeah right! Feeling smug. I should take off the back lens and clean that..but I don’t want to push my luck.
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Good on ya! It’s a fine looking, semi-custom holdover from another era!
Yay, brilliant, love everything about it, the story the fix the results. However, I would lube those threads if I were you or it might seize again. Silicone grease ideal, but Vaseline will suffice. And get that lens back off and clean it. Use it again with 35mm adapters and a homemade film mask and have some fab wide shots. …of go on!
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But, it works now. Maybe later, it’s cold, I’m in bed, comfy. Noooo, please, just 5 mins more.
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