Monday, May 21, 2012

Leica IIIa

Leica IIIa
I recently have acquired a gem of the camera world.  A near pristine Leica IIIa 35mm Rangefinder.  The rangefinder is bright, clean, and accurate.  The camera is in fantastic condition, the vulcanite is very lovely, the chrome parts are nice, but could probably do with a polish just to bring out more shine, and body seems to be well taken care of.
Now the bit of bad news on this camera, and it's just a bit.  The shutter has failed, and will not actuate at the proper speed.  Why? I couldn't really say, but it seems to stick at times, or just go through its travel at full speed instead.
It's like there's no difference from 1/1000s to 1s at all, which is unfortunately, and it will not stay open at Z (BULB). 

Upon opening the box on Friday Evening (May 18, 2012), I was greeted with a box full of packing peanuts, and a camera wrapped in bubble wrap.  It felt like Christmas unwrapping this camera, as the excitement was very high.  My very first Leica camera!  I was intent on putting it to immediate use.. so I pulled it out, wound the shutter for the first time, and clicked the release...

The shutter fired nicely!  Oh what a nice sound it was too.... then, winding the shutter again, I turned the speed dial to 1/20s...  and click.. Uh-oh....
The shutter fired... oh, but it fired too fast!  1/1000s it went... and it happened at every speed, including Z (Bulb)... I knew there was an issue with the camera, but was really hoping it was the sellers error on not knowing how to properly use the camera.  Unfortunately, it had nothing to do with that.  The camera is otherwise functional, considering that the shutter will fire at high speed through the full travel and winds nicely, and the rangefinder is bright, clean, and very accurate.
My New Toy...Even though there are some issues with this camera, I'm still going to try it out.  I plan on putting a roll of 200ISO film (or so) through it and test out the over-all workings of this camera.  See, I want to know if it has a problem with the shutter curtain as well..  The only way I'll know if there are pin-holes in the cloth curtain is to actually use the camera.

That said, I am also currently calling around trying to find someone that is reasonably priced for the repairs on this camera, and hoping that once I find said person, that it won't be long to get the camera back.

This is probably the most expensive camera I have purchased, considering I bought it as a camera that isn't fully functional without a lens...  Heck, the Bronica I bought had 1 lens, a film back, and was ready to go when I bought it.

I hope to have this camera out for service soon so that I can start using it to its fullest potential in the near future!

Quick Specs

Leica IIIa 35mm Rangefinder
1s to 1/1000s Horizontal Travel Cloth Shutter
M39 Lens Mount
Rangefinder & Separate Viewfinder for easier focus and composition

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Agfa Shurshot B2 Box Camera

About a year ago I purchased an Agfa/Ansco Shur-Shot Box Camera.  The model I purchased takes B2 (or 120) film, which is still widely available today.
It's a single element ƒ/13 Meniscus lens camera, with a hyperfocal range of 8' to INF.  The shutter speed is 1/60s (approx) which will slightly over-expose 100ISO film, but that's when you can try to control the exposure by either slipping the yellow filter in, or sliding it to the further ƒ-stop instead.
There is a small slider on the side of the camera just above the shutter which is "BULB" or "TIME" exposure, which, when pulled out, will cause the shutter to stay open as long as you have the shutter release lever pressed.  Above that is the aperture/filter slider.  When you pull it out to the first marking, you get the Yellow Filter.  Pull it out further, and you get ƒ/22, which will give you a much sharper image over all, but will slightly underexpose the film, but not badly if you have plenty of sunlight.  Composing the photo is simple.  There are two view finders on the camera, one is a portrait layout and the other is a landscape layout.  There are also lines in the finders which represent the HALF-FRAME photos, so when you are shooting 6x4.5 images you use the inner lines to compose the image.

Agfa Shurshot B-2 Box Camera
 Agfa Shur-Shot B2 Box Camera
Single Element 105mm ƒ/13-ƒ/22 Meniscus Lens
Focusing: 8' to INF for Box Cameras
Shutter: Slicer type Non-Sync Shutter 1/60s (approx)

A Shot From The 50's

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Nikkormat FT2

I recently purchased 2 Nikon cameras from that great Auction Site.  One, a Nikon EM, which does, and does not, work, along with this Nikkormat FT2.  I got a fantastic deal on the both of them, at a cost of $20.00 for the pair, shipped!
Why so cheap, you might ask..  Well, that's actually quite simple.  The camera didn't work.  There was an issue with it, where the mirror was stuck in the LOCK-UP position along with the self-timer being stuck.  Now, I did not realize, at the time, that the self-timer was jammed, and figured that the person selling just didn't realize that the mirror was in lock-up, which is an available option for this camera.  So I took a chance, and jumped on it.
Quite the chance indeed that I took, because when both cameras arrived, I was at a loss for words on what the problem might be.  The mirror was locked up, yes, but upon resetting the mirror and pushing the shutter release, it would just flip back up and stay there.  That was not a good sign, and I was rather dismayed at what was looking to be a rather piss-poor investment.
Shortly after making that mistake, though, I started to browse the internet looking for anyone experiencing a similar problem
That's when I happened to come across an article that stated - "The shutter is a common issue with this camera locking up due to the self-timer jamming".  Well, that got my curiosity peaked and so I opened up the base-plate of the camera and located the self-timer gears.  Using a very fine flat screwdriver I started to carefully advance the self-timer through its motions.  Sure enough, within a few seconds the shutter fired, and the mirror returned to its lower position.  I was relieved and excited, to say the least.  Well, I wanted to make sure it wasn't a fluke, so I quickly took up the camera, and started to test each shutter speed, from 1 to 1/1000 and B.  All fired, all sounded accurate, and the camera continued to function as normal.  Well, almost.  You see, in advancing the self-timer manually like I did, it must have dislodged something because now the self-timer mechanism doesn't work.  In fact, it is completely dead, and doesn't function at all anymore, which really is no problem at all.  I don't use a self-timer, and if I really want to, I can always get an air-release so I can use it on any camera, including one that doesn't have a self-timer normally.
Rather heavy-ish body, and the shutter, on rare occasions, sticks a bit, and it has an odd way to turn the meter on/off, but a decent camera, with mirror-lockup and DoF preview.

Nikkormat 35mm SLR
Nikon NON-AI Bayonet Lens Mount
Instant Return Mirror with Lockup (Switch located at side of mount)
Vertical Travel Shutter Curtain 1s to 1/1000s +B (Speed adjustment ring on front of camera around Lens Mount)
Match The Needle type meter system powered by a single LR44 button cell Silver-Oxide battery (1.5v)
Meter On/Off Switch is also the film-advance lever.
TTL 60/40% Center Weighted Average Metering System
DoF Preview located beside Pentaprism Hump
PC-Sync Port + Hot-Shoe 1/60s Sync Speed
ASA Scale 12-1600
887g without lens, battery & film

A great little camera that seems like it'll keep on working for a good many a year to come.  If you get a chance to use one, you just might become a believer in Nikon cameras as well!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Honeywell Pentax Spotmatic SPII

From it's conception, to the final model, the Spotmatic has been a staple and strong running camera that has really been one of the all-time great 35mm SLR Cameras.  This particular model, the Spotmatic SPII, was badged with the Honeywell logo, sported a pair of PC-Sync Ports (F Sync and X-Sync) as well as an X-Sync hot-shoe.  The shutter would sync at 1/60s for electronic flashes, or 1/30s for flash bulbs.
The M42 lens mount is probably the most versatile and widely used lens mount of any camera.  Whether it is an Olympus, Pentax, Praktica, Zenit, or otherwise, this lens mount has been used on so many cameras that it is a wonder it was ever stopped.  They attempted to take it a step further for open aperture metering with the M42 Electric, or M42e, lens mount, but unfortunately it was too little too late.  With cameras becoming more and more sophisticated, the manufacturer's for these cameras opted to end the reign of the M42 mount, and switched to Bayonet style mounts instead.  This leads to the K-Mount, which Pentax still uses to this day, after it was originally introduced in 1976 coinciding with the Pentax K-1000 35mm SLR.  The K-1000 uses much of the same systems and body styling as the Spotmatic, but the K mount allowed for wide-open metering, as opposed to the stop-down metering of the Spotmatic bodies.

This particular model that I have in my possession, sadly, does not have a properly functional light meter.  It is approximately 2 stops off, even with a proper battery, so I have to take it into account when I am setting my film speeds.  If it is 100ISO film, I always set the dial to 25 instead, so that I can get near correct metering from this camera.

I must admit that I have taken some phenomenal photos with this camera, not this model, but a similar model.  In fact, my ultimate all-time favorite photo was taken on my original Spotmatic.  A photo of my eldest when we went to Port Colbourne last year and he decided that he would go off and sulk because we were heading into the town from our Hotel.  He wanted to stay back and play with his cousins, but didn't realize that they were coming with us.
Needless to say, when I had the roll developed, I was so impressed with what I saw I got it printed.
It basically sums up my son in a perfect photo.  One of those photos that, no matter how hard you could try, you probably wouldn't get another one like it again.

Took the photo on the right on Polypan F 50ISO film, which wasn't easy, considering the dial only goes down to 25ASA, so I actually had to meter for 25, than add one more stop off it.
Shot it on a Pentacon 50mm ƒ/1.8 lens, which is my one, and only, M42E lens. 

Technical Specs;

Pentax Spotmatic SPII 35mm SLR
M42 Auto-Diaphragm Screwtype Lens Mount
Horizontal Travel Cloth Focal Plane Shutter X-Sync @ 1/60s M-Sync @ 1/30s
Match the Needle type Stop-Down Metering powered by a single 1.35v Mercury Battery (small button type)
Top-Mount Hot-Shoe X-Sync For Flash
2-Front mounted PC-Sync Ports (F/M Sync + X-Sync)

If you get a chance to pick up one of these cameras, I would highly recommend it.  They are a fun, and simple camera to use.  You really can't go wrong using one, and they use one of the most widely available lens system.

Keep those shutters firing!