Tag Archives: bellows

Contax RTS III with Macro attachment

As I have said, I am running out of new to me cameras to try so will be moving towards projects and themes. So hello macro photography, my first trial set-up. This is another set up that was been loaned to me by a reader. It has taken me a while to get round to trying it out but on one fading summer day try it I did.

This is the set up.

For my first try I picked a few things from my garden and used the black garden table as a backdrop.

The selection of subjects.

I haven’t tried this kind of thing before, but I already knew there would be a light drop off due to the length of the bellows. I had no idea how much, so I did a quick search and found lots of really technical details with, shock horror…MATH! I can’t find the actual website I used at the time, but this one explains everything very well. This site also has a disc compensation device you can make.

No worries really, my only real issue was the fading light. I had to use a low aperture which meant the already shallow depth of field even smaller. My other issue was the fact I was using film so no chimping to check I was doing it ok. I would really love a Contax to Nikon or Minolta adapter to try it all on digital. I will look around my “stuff box” it is amazing what I shove in there.

Anyway after working out the correct exposure I got to shooting. The depth of field was incredibly shallow as I had to use a f5.6 to gain a speed of 1/125th. I know I was using a tripod, but it was still a bit windy so I needed that speed to avoid any movement. I will try it again on a much sunnier day, when England decides to stop this incessant raining.

Here are my results.

I like them. I want to try it again with a much smaller aperture and a faster film to see the difference. Have you tried this kind of set up? Any advice?

Adox Golf 63 S

The name on this camera had worn off and it took me a while to play around with combinations of letters to find the name. Then I took it outside to take some photos and the names popped under the sunlight.

After a quick search for Adox Golf, this version came up. The linked site said the shutter was designed to run dry so it had no lubricants. That meant it was not prone to sticking. I found this to be true as the shutter on this 1955 example worked perfectly. The lens was also clear of any haze or fungus. So far so good… and after that the fun began.

My first attempt at using it had disappointing results. My bottle of ilfosol 3 was almost empty and when I mixed had a weird colour. In my head I thought, oh that is depleted I shouldn’t use it. Then I thought, what the hell…I wonder what would happen. When I had finished the processing I found a very, very, very light set of negatives. I didn’t think anything would scan from them but I tried anyway. I ended up with these very grainy shots.

I also mistook the white lines for developer issues as I had never encountered them before. So I loaded up another roll of film and took it out again.

As I had to go into Leeds to buy new chemicals I took the camera with me. This time the results were better to a degree, but there were still issues.

What are those weird light leaks? So if it wasn’t the processing, it must be the camera.

I have tried a few cameras with bellows and have never had an issue with them being damaged. Even with the Victorian camera, the bellows were ok. I guess I have been lucky and ended up forgetting about them. But it seemed that this camera did have an issue somewhere and I suspected the bellows, Occum’s razor. I did a little research on how to check the bellows.

I turned off my room light and shone a torch through the outside of the camera bellows.

Voila. These are only a few of the leaks, there were more on the other sides. Ok, so the lens seemed fine, the timer was working, the camera was in generally good condition and importantly, I liked using it. How can I fix these pin holes cheaply and easily. This camera is very cheap to buy so an expensive repair would not be worthwhile. I read a few places that a glue and paint mixture would work so I tried that first. It didn’t look great, but the light leaks were gone.

I shot another roll that I took at the beautiful Hardcastle Crags. Gosh, they would be nice if the light leaks were gone.

Also, as it was a lovely sunny day so I had some of this before developing…

Big mistake. Apparently I was drunker than I thought and when I poured out the used developer it looked like this…and the final film like this…

WTF??? Where are my beautiful photos from the Yorkshire countryside?? I checked the bottles again. OOOOOHHHH, apparently if you try to develop fomapan by using the stop bath first, then developer, then fixer…it comes out blue, like the gin.

Fourth film, really fourth?? I was determined to get a good roll from this camera. Weirdly, I still really liked it and hadn’t lost the plot with it yet. Why did I like it? It has no capacity for double or multiple exposures, it has no rangefinder, the lowest aperture choice was f6.3, and the fastest speed was 1/200th. I think my love started with the funky way you loaded or removed the film.

Look at that, what a cool, convenient thing. You pull it out and down and the film is then very easy to load. Then there is the button to open it, push and whop, it swishes open. And then, when it is closed it is nice and compact and fits into a large pocket. Plus it is so cheap you don’t mind whopping it and whapping it in a pocket. There is also a red indicator by the shutter and wind on wheel that lets you know if the camera is ready to be operated.

Before I loaded the fourth and I have to say final film, I decided to check the bellows again. There was still a small leak so this time I decided to use black nail varnish and no gin. (See comment section about this, nail varnish really doesn’t work well and is a quick fix only)

Here are the final test results.

The negatives still had a couple of tiny leaks evident, but except for the last shot they weren’t so bad. I used the film very quickly so the light didn’t have time to really spoil anything else. When using glue or varnish, you need to wait a long time for it to dry as the sticky consistency will do exactly that when the camera closes. It will stick together and the holes reappear when you open the camera again.

I will put another coat of nail varnish on the camera if I decide to use it again, but I doubt it as I have a few other medium format cameras without deteriorating bellows. As for recommendations, this camera can be found quite cheap so it would be a good buy. Just check the bellows before buying it or trying it with a film. Plus it looks nice on the shelf

Also, for a great article on breathing new life into old cameras, check out this link. You will find details of many kinds of repairs. Oh and I recommend the gin too 🙂