Tag Archives: folding

Franka Solida IIE

I tried this camera a few weeks ago and I love it…which is unfortunate as I dropped it while out using it for the first time. The damn thing doesn’t have any strap lugs and I don’t have the case. So I hope it still works after that. I definitely will try another film sometime to find out. For now here is the camera with added dint.

This version of the Solida is from 1956, there are a few versions. This one can be identified by the uncoupled rangefinder and the square window on the front. Apart from the obvious lack of a strap, the camera feels solid with an all metal build. That is good because I dropped it from quite a height and it just dented the bottom rather than break it altogether.

You open the camera with a button on the side, above the lever to open the back. To close the camera, you push down on the bar at the front of the lens. After I dropped mine, the film back was jammed shut, but luckily my father had just received a free gift, a small tool box, that came with a purchase of some trousers…

Seriously, who gives a tool kit away with trousers. Anyway, it had just the right tools inside to open the camera and to slightly fix the dent.

The camera has speeds ranging from 1/300 to 1 seconds plus a bulb setting. The shutter needs to be cocked before firing. It has a lock to avoid double-exposures, which is the only disappointing thing. There is a cable-release socket on the lens and a slider to cover the red window. The one thing I couldn’t find at first was the aperture adjuster, eventually I found it under the lens along with an EV scale. The choice of apertures are from f3.5 to f22.

The best thing about the camera is the uncoupled rangefinder, which on my example worked well. It was a bit tricky to see the double image, in bright light it was better. Once the two images are aligned the scale on the top of the camera tells you the distance to set the lens. That does mean you have to slow down a bit while out photoing, but that is kind of nice.

I loaded mine with Fomapan 400 and went to Cardiff Castle. At first I had a bit of trouble using the camera, the shutter button needed a hefty press, but once you get use to that all is fine. I did think there might be some camera movement due to the pressure needed for the button. To avoid that I kept the camera at 1/125th. The first shot of the soldier sculpture did show that movement, but after that I was use to the pressure. I also took the camera to Steeton Hall Gateway and Oulton Church. Not bad for just 12 6×6 shots.

Here is another review of the camera with sample photos. I love the look of the photos, plus the camera is light enough to carry around in a bag or pocket, unlike some 120 cameras I have. Best thing of all, it is really cheap to find. What a super little camera.

Kershaw Eight-20 Penguin

This is the second crappy photo post for the day after my break. It is disappointing to post crappy photos, but as this blog is a record of the cameras I have used, I decided to go ahead and post them anyway.

The camera was in the job lot of box brownie cameras and as it was a nice day I decided to try it out. Because it is called penguin!!! How cool is that. Besides that, look at it…

I also decided to try it out because I had some expired film left and thought, why not. It turned out it wasn’t such a great decision for a number of reasons.

  1. There was no viewfinder on the camera. I ended up using a spirit level attached to the camera with bluetack and guessed the rest.
  2. My chemicals were expired, bugger!
  3. I could not get the film out of the camera, the winder knob was stuck.
  4. I took the camera to Conisborough Castle and when I saw the tower I couldn’t help myself and climbed it….I am not supposed to put any extra strain on my knees right now…but…castle!

Anyway, apart from the missing viewfinder there didn’t seem to be much else wrong with the camera. It is a simple, metal, folding camera from around 1951. There are two aperture choices f11 or f16, one speed – probably 1/50th, and a distance scale that moves from 6ft to infinity. That is it. As you can see on the photos I put tape around mine as I can’t confident it would be light tight, funnily, I didn’t check the bellows as they seemed to be in very good condition.

So as I said, I used a spirit level to try and keeps things straight and for the most part that worked fine, I might use it on other box cameras. But, as I said my chemicals had issues, something you don’t know until this happens. Once developed the film was opaque which makes me think my fixer was exhausted. The only problem with that theory is that another film developed after was fine. Oh well, it still gives me a chance to see what the camera can do.

I honestly couldn’t be bothered to get rid of any hairs. There are a couple of shots that are obviously not straight. I found the shutter button to be quite sensitive and it took the photo while I was playing with the camera.

So final result. This is a camera that will look nice on a shelf, but not worth the effort to use it with film. I am going to donate it to a film project I was asked about. Someone contacted me for old cameras to go in a display, here, have this one 🙂

Semi Leotax

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.