Thursday, March 10, 2022

Leica IIIc (1940-1951)

The Leica model IIIc was introduced by Leitz in 1940 and discontinued in 1951.  This model IIIc camera is a postwar version with a serial number in the low end of a range that was assigned in 1946-47.  The f/3.5 50 mm Elmar lens was bought separately and has a serial number from 1946.  The Leitz factory was located in the American zone of occupation and a great deal of the production at that time was for the American and British occupation forces.  The civilian export market really didn't get going again until currency reform and the creation of the Deutsche Mark in 1948.  The US list price of a Leica IIIc with a standard f/3.5 50 mm Elmar lens was $332.50 in 1948.  It was an expensive camera when it was new.  In 1951 the same combination was closed out at a still expensive list price of $259.00.

The wartime IIIc (1940-45) differs in a few details from the postwar IIIc (1946-51).  The most visible differences in the wartime version are a step in the top plate where the advance-rewind lever is positioned and a different shape of the range finder focusing lever.  The wartime cameras also have many variations in materials and finish.  Leitz made about 33,000 of the wartime version and about 100,000 of the postwar version.

Leica is a long running line of cameras.  The first Leica camera was designed by Oskar Barnack (1879-1936) about 1912.  It was further developed as a commercial product and introduced for sale in 1925.  Originally the Leica came with a non-interchangeable lens.  The first version with interchangeable screw-mount lenses came out in 1930,  and the bayonet lens mount came out in 1954.  Leica digital cameras are still in production today.  The screw-mount Leica is one of the most imitated of cameras.  Cameras inspired by the Leica were made in the USSR, Japan, China, the UK, France and the USA.  Some lenses and other parts were interchangeable among the various makes.  My camera happens to have a Canon (Japan) take-up spool.  Canon lenses are well regarded.

The top of the camera has the rewind knob, the focusing lever for the rangefinder eyepiece, the accessory shoe, the fast shutter speed dial, the film advance/rewind lever, the shutter button, the film advance knob and the exposure counter.  The front of the camera has the slow shutter speed dial, the lens mount and the windows for the range finder and viewfinder.  The back of the camera has the range finder and viewfinder eyepieces.  The bottom of the camera has the base latch and the tripod socket.  There are strap lugs on the left and right sides.  The metal parts are chromed and the black covering is textured vulcanite.  There is a little brassing on the knobs where the chrome has worn thin.

The f/3.5 50mm Elmar lens was designed by Dr. Max Berek (1886-1949) at Leitz about 1922.  The screw mount version of the lens was introduced in 1930 and discontinued in 1959.  It was the standard lens for Leica screw mount cameras.  It has four elements in three groups, resembling a tessar design but with the aperture diaphragm between the first and second groups  instead of between the second and third group.  My lens has anti-reflection coatings.  The lens mount has a 39 mm right-hand screw thread with a 26 threads-per-inch pitch.  Supposedly the thread pitch is from a British standard for microscope objectives.   Leitz made microscopes long before it made cameras, so this seems reasonable.  Inside the camera body is a roller that rides on a cam inside the lens and transmits the focus distance to the range finder.  The focusing lever locks at infinity.  To focus closer you press in the knob to unlock the lens and rotate the lens to focus.  The closest focus is 1 meter (3' 3-3/8").  A small tab on the front of the lens sets the aperture.  The aperture scale is marked from f/3.5 to f/16 (3.5, 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16).  No click stops are provided, which lets you select intermediate apertures.  There is a depth of field scale on the lens barrel.  The Elmar lens is collapsible to allow the camera to fit inside a generous pocket.  To collapse the lens you rotate the barrel counterclockwise until it unlocks and push it in.  To extend the lens you draw out the barrel and rotate it clockwise until it locks.   You need to make sure the lens is extended and locked for picture taking or else your pictures will be badly out of focus.  The lens will take 19mm diameter screw-in filters (E19) or 36mm diameter slip-on filters (A36).  A Kodak No. 18 Series V filter adapter will screw onto the lens, and a Kodak 1-13/32" Series VI filter adapter will slip on.  An A36 slip-on filter or a Series adapter covers the aperture dial so you have to take off the filter or adapter to set the aperture.

The shutter is a horizontally running rubberized cloth focal plane shutter.  Winding the film advance knob advances the film and cocks the shutter.  Shutter speeds from 1/30 to 1/1000 second are set by lifting and turning the top shutter speed dial.   Slow speeds are set on the dial on the front of the camera.  The shutter needs to be cocked in order to line up the correct setting with the index mark because the shutter speed knob rotates when the shutter is cocked and spins back when the shutter fires.  The fast speed knob should be set to "1-30" to use the slow speeds.  The slow speed dial should be set to "30" to use the fast speeds.  The slow speed dial will lock at "30".  You press a small stud above the dial to unlock.  The IIIc is not synchronized for flash.  Several add-on flash synchronizers were available from Leitz and third party suppliers.  Some synchronizers took advantage of the fact that the shutter speed knob rotated to fire the flash at the correct time.  The shutter was synchronized for flash at 1/30 second with these attachments.  The succeeding model IIIf Leica (1950-57) had flash sync built in.

The Leica is a bottom loading camera.  There is no hinged back (like most 35mm cameras) or removable back (like the Zeiss Ikon Contax) to make loading easier.  The base plate comes off for loading film.   The film should be trimmed to half width for about 4 inches to make a leader and hooked onto the take-up spool before the spool is placed inside the camera. You need to thread the film between the pressure plate and film gate and get the perforations onto the sprocket wheel by feel.  The advance/rewind lever should be in the advance position to take pictures.  When you advance the film you should see the rewind knob spin counterclockwise.  The small black dot on the shutter button also spins around.  You should advance the film twice, then set the exposure counter to zero.  The exposure counter will count the number of pictures taken.  There are templates available to help in trimming the film, but it is easy enough to cut freehand with scissors.  The rationale for the solid back is that it made the camera body more rigid.

To remove the film from the camera you switch the advance/.rewind lever to the rewind position and turn the rewind knob clockwise until all of the film is wound into the cassette.  Then you can take off the base and remove the cassette.

The viewfinder and range finder have separate eyepieces, with the viewfinder on the right.  The field of view of the viewfinder matches the field of view of the standard 50 mm lens.  An auxiliary viewfinder for a wide angle or a telephoto lens fits into the accessory shoe.  The rangefinder is a coincident type.  When the double image in the eyepiece merges into a single view the camera is in focus.  The range finder eyepiece magnifies about 1.5 times and has a focus adjustment for the clearest view of distant or near objects.

To use a standard cable release you need a "Leica Nipple" adapter that replaces the collar around the shutter button.  The same style adapter was used on some Yashica and Nikon cameras.  The tripod socket takes a 3/8" diameter thread.  You need a 3/8" to 1/4" adapter to use most modern tripods.

The peacetime Leica IIIc probably is the most affordable Leica as a user camera.  The wartime IIIc cameras tend to be expensive collectors' items.  Photographic technology has advanced quite a bit in the 70-80 years since the IIIc was new, and the camera is decidedly quaint.  It is definitely finely made and it still is a good picture taker.

Street signs near Nissan Stadium, Nashville, Tennessee
Kodak Portra 160, f/3.5 50 mm Elmar

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Voigtlander Bessa 66 (about 1939)

The Voigtlander Bessa 66 is a folding camera that takes 2-1/4" square (6cm x 6cm) pictures on size 120 roll film.  It was made from 1938 until 1950 with an interruption due to WWII.  This one was made probably in 1939 and was an export model because the distance scale and the depth of field calculator are in feet.  The Bessa 66 came with a range of lenses, shutters and viewfinders.  The available lenses were the Voigtar (three elements in 3 groups), the Skopar (4 elements in 3 groups) and the Heliar (5 elements in 3 groups).  [An element is a single lens.  Groups are separated by air spaces and a group consists of either a single element or multiple elements cemented together.]  The available shutters were the Gauthier Prontor II (fastest speed 1/175 second), the Deckel Compur (1/300) or the Deckel Compur-Rapid (1/500).  The available viewfinders were a folding open frame finder, a folding optical finder and an enclosed optical finder.  The cameras with enclosed viewfinders also had automatic frame counters.  The features on this Bessa 66 include an uncoated f/3.5 Voigtar lens, a Compur-Rapid shutter, an enclosed optical viewfinder and an automatic frame counter.  The shutter is not synchronized for flash and does not have a self-timer.  Anti-reflective lens coatings, flash synchronization and self-timers appeared post-WWII.

The top of the camera has the film winding knob and the frame counter window.  The bottom of the camera has the lens door button, the 3/8" tripod socket, the base support and the depth of field calculator.  The front has the lens door and the viewfinder window.  The back of the camera has the viewfinder eyepiece, the frame counter start slider, and the little red window.  The red window has a shutter that you open and close using the knob next to the window.  The film back hinge is on the left and the film back latch is on the right.

The lens is an uncoated, f/3.5-f/16, 75 mm, Voigtlander Voigtar lens with front cell focusing.  A 32 mm Series VI filter adapter fits the lens.  The Voigtar is a Cooke Triplet design.  The Cooke Triplet was invented in 1893 by Harold Dennis Taylor (1862-1943) at the Thomas Cooke and Sons optical firm in England.

The shutter is a Compur-Rapid leaf shutter with speeds of 1, 1/2, 1/5, 1/10, 1/25, 1/50, 1/100, 1/250 and 1/500 second.  The shutter release is on the lens door and is interlocked with the automatic frame counter to prevent double exposures.  The socket for a cable release is on the top of the shutter release mechanism near the lens door hinge.  The shutter is manually cocked with a lever on the side of the shutter.

When you press the lens door button the lens door pops open and you can pull the lens door down until the lens struts click into place.  To close the lens door you press the curved plate under the lens to unlatch the lens struts and push the lens door closed.

To open the door to the film compartment you turn the base support to the front, squeeze together the latches and pull open the door.  The film door latches when you close it.  Turning the base support back under the base moves a tab under the bottom latch to keep it closed.

The frame counter has to be at zero in order to load film.  If the counter needs to be reset you rotate the toothed roller near the supply chamber to the left until you hear a click, then cock and release the shutter.  Repeat until the counter is at zero and the film winding knob turns freely.  The take-up spool goes into the cradle on the left under the winding knob.  The new roll of film goes into the cradle on the right side.  Thread the backing paper into the slot on the take-up spool, close the back and wind the film until the number 1 shows through the little red window.  You push the start slider to the left and a one will appear in the frame counter window.

To take a picture you set the aperture and the shutter speed, focus the lens, cock the shutter, aim and press the shutter release lever on the lens door.  The lever then locks to prevent a double exposure.  The winding knob unlocks when you press the shutter release lever all the way down to take a picture.  You need to advance to the next frame to unlock the shutter release lever.  Turn the knob until it locks.  After you have taken 12 pictures the frame counter resets to zero and the winding knob turns freely to let you wind up the roll of film to be ready to load a fresh roll.

The focusing scale has distant and near settings for snapshots.  When the aperture is set at f/8 and the focus is set to the circle symbol (about 32 feet or 10 meters)  on the focusing scale, the depth of field extends from 16 feet or 5 meters to infinity.  When the lens is set at the triangle symbol (about 11 feet or 3.3 meters) the depth of field extends from 8 feet or 2.5 meters to 16 feet or 10 meters.  Use the depth of field calculator on the bottom to estimate the depth of field for other settings.

For long exposures you can put the camera on a stable support and use a cable release.  You can turn the base support forward to set the Bessa 66 on a level surface without tipping over.  The tripod socket takes a 3/8" screw.  You need a 1/4" to 3/8" adapter to use most modern tripods.

The Bessa 66 folds to about the size of a 35 mm camera.  The Bessa 66 and Bessa 46 (4.5cm wide x 6cm tall pictures) were known as "Baby Bessas" because they were so compact.  The camera is entirely manual.  Scale focusing takes a little getting used to.  A hand held range finder helps with focusing.  An exposure meter helps with setting the aperture and shutter.  When the camera was new, 100 speed film was "fast."  The camera settings are broad enough to use current 400 speed film on a sunny day.  The frame counter on this camera is a little cranky after 80-plus years and takes gentle handling.

Voigtlander started making scientific instruments in 1756 and made its first camera in 1840.  The factory closed in 1971.  After 1999 Cosina Co., Ltd., Japan, made products with the Voigtlander name. 

This picture was taken several years ago on ISO 100 Ultra film.  The Bessa 66 makes nice pictures.

View-Master Personal Stereo Camera (1952-1955)

You might remember looking through a View-Master viewer at a reel of scenic views or cartoon favorites on a reel of color stereo slides.  You could have made your own View-Master reels with this View-Master Personal Stereo Camera.  Sawyer's, Inc., Portland, Oregon, began producing View-Master reels and viewers in the 1930s.  As part of the 1950s stereo photography boom, Sawyer's sold a home photography View-Master system consisting of a camera and a film cutter.  The photographer would shoot a roll of 35 mm slide film, have it developed, and either send the film to Sawyer's to be mounted in View-Master reels or cut and mount the film at home using a View-Master film cutter and empty View-Master reels.  The cameras were made for Sawyer's by Stereocraft Engineering Company, also in Portland, Oregon.  Patents on the camera were filed by Gordon N. Smith and assigned to Stereocraft.  Stereocraft Engineering Company made other products for Sawyer's and eventually merged with Sawyer's.  Sawyer's merged with GAF in 1966.  GAF got out of the photography business in 1977.  View-Master viewers and commercial reels are still sold as toys.

The body of the camera is die cast metal with a small amount of chrome.  The top of the camera has the winding knob, film length indicator, exposure counter, exposure calculator/aperture setting/shutter speed setting knobs, a flash connector and a film advance indicator.  The bottom has the film loaded indicator, the tripod socket and a summary of the instructions for loading film.  The front of the camera has the front lens of the viewfinder, two windows for the paired lenses, the A/B shift knob, the cable release socket and the shutter button.  The back of the camera has the rear lens of the viewfinder.  A spirit level is visible through the viewfinder.  The film door is hinged on the left and has a latch on the right.  The camera weighs 1 lb. 7-1/2 oz. (0.67 kg) without film.  It is 6 in. wide by 3-3/4 in. high by 2 in. deep (15 cm x 95 cm x 5 cm).  The camera came in either black or, uncommonly, brown.

The lenses are matched, fixed focus, View-Master f/3.5-f/16, 25 mm, coated anastigmats with three elements in three groups.   The range of sharp focus depends on the selected aperture.  Close focus is as close as 4 ft. with the camera set to f/16, and 10 ft. with the camera set to f/3.5.  The best stereo effect is with the aperture set to f/11 or f/16 for the greatest possible depth of field.  Subjects should be no closer than 6 or 7 ft.  The lenses are spaced 2-7/16 in. (62 mm) on centers, which is about the average interpupillary distance for a natural stereo effect.  The lenses are located behind plane glass windows that protect the shutter blades.  The window mountings hold Series V drop-in filters.  The camera came with retaining rings threaded into the window mountings.  Wratten 85 color correction filters were commonly used with tungsten balanced Kodachrome A film outdoors in daylight.

The shutters are guillotine types located in front of the lenses.  They function like the shutter on the Minox camera.  Continuously variable shutter speeds run from 1/100 second to 1/10 second plus bulb.

The aperture and shutter speed knobs are coupled to an exposure setting calculator.  You set the film speed (from ASA 5 to 100) to the season (Summer or Winter) and match the weather conditions to the brightness of the subject by selecting the aperture and shutter speeds.  It is a very workable system.  Stereocraft put the same calculator on the TDC Stereo Vivid camera they made for Bell and Howell.

The film advance and rewind are unique to this camera.  Using a 36-exposure roll of 35mm color slide film, the camera makes 69 pairs of 12 mm x 14 mm pictures.  Four pictures fit in the area taken up by one full frame 35 mm picture.  34 pairs of pictures are made on the lower half of the film as it moves forward from the film cassette to the take-up spindle.   A knob on the front of the camera shifts the lenses from lower to upper, and the film transport from forward to reverse.  35 pairs of pictures are made on the upper half of the film as it moves back from the spindle into the cassette.  The wind knob turns counterclockwise for advance and clockwise for reverse.

The shifting lenses on the View-Master Personal Stereo Camera
The shutter is open on the bulb setting to show the lenses.

When the camera was new photographers would send their Kodachrome film to Eastman Kodak for processing and have the processed film returned uncut.  They then had the option of sending the film to Sawyer's or one of their dealers to be mounted on View-Master reels or cutting and mounting the slides themselves.  Sawyer's sold a film cutter and blank, View-Master personal reels.  The film cutter is a necessity for do-it-yourself mounting because it is difficult to cut the slides by hand to fit a reel.  Blank View-Master reels are no longer made, but old stock still appears on eBay.  It might be possible to cut your own reels on a cutter like the Cricut machine.  Commercial View-Master reels from a thrift store could be reused by taking out the old slides.  Some commercial reels are in demand as collectibles, making it a good idea to check prices before sacrificing one of your potentially valuable commercial reels.

The model FC-1 film cutter uses a 15 watt light bulb to illuminate the slides.  The knob on the front advances the film through the cutter.  Pressing the handle punches out the chips for one stereo pair.  To keep from mixing up the chips from different stereo pairs you should mount the slides as you go along.  To punch out the pairs of chips you feed the film from right to left with the emulsion side down.  Once you finish one row of pictures you turn the film over and cut the second row, feeding the film from left to right with the emulsion side up.  The View-Master camera has a square notch on the right film gate and a rounded notch on the left film gate so you can tell left from right, and the notches match the guides printed on blank View-Master personal reels. 

The chips can be slipped into a View-Master reel holding 7 stereo pairs.  The personal reels have spaces to write descriptions of slides if you write small.  A 36 exposure roll of color slide film makes enough pictures to nearly fill 10 View-Master reels.The same View-Master hand viewers for commercial reels work with personal reels.  Sawyer's made a 3D slide projector for viewing reels in 3D with special Polaroid glasses.  You also needed a special aluminized screen that reflected polarized light.  Sawyer's also made 2D projectors that projected only one slide of a pair.

There is a matching flasholder that is unique in having a built-in range finder.  You looked through the eyepiece at the top of the flasholder and turned the inner part of the dial to merge the double images into one.  This measured the distance to the main subject.  You then set the outer part of the dial to the guide number for the flashbulb and film you are using.  You read off the aperture to use according to the tonal value of the main subject.

There also were close-up attachments, which I don't have, that focused at 36 inches or 24 inches.

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Stereo-Tach Stereo Photography Attachment (about 1939-1951)

The Stereo-Tach (rhymes with attach) is a gadget for taking stereo pictures with just about any camera from 35 mm to 4x5 large format.  It uses four front surface mirrors to put two pictures with slightly different viewpoints side by side on the same negative.  The stereo pairs are in portrait format.  The stereo baseline is about 70 mm, which is roughly the same baseline on most stereo cameras.   To compose the picture through the camera viewfinder you have to remember that the image is only half as wide as a normal image.  The waist level viewfinder can be used to compose the picture if the Stereo-Tach blocks the camera's viewfinder.

A Series VI insert is attached.  The inner recess is for a
Series V insert.  The outer recess is for a Series VII.

The Stereo-Tach in the pictures has a Series VI insert to attach the Stereo-Tach to an adapter ring for the lens on the camera.  Series V, VI or VII inserts and adapter rings could be used for lenses ranging from 3/4" to 2" in diameter.  When an adapter was not available for the lens an adjustable mounting bracket could be used to attach the Stereo-Tach to the tripod socket on the camera body.  The Stereo-Tach needed to be level with the camera and centered on the lens to work.

A matching slide viewer was available.  The images of a stereo pair appear slide-by-slide on a standard 35mm slide.  The viewer uses four mirrors to reflect the images and get the separation needed.  The viewer could fit inside a unit with a battery powered light for illumination.  A print viewer also was available. 

Stereo-Tach ad from the July, 1939, issue
of Popular Mechanics, page 144A

The Stereo-Tach was invented by Charles D. Austin.  It was first made by the Commonwealth Manufacturing Co., Cincinnati, Ohio, and later by Advertising Displays, Inc., Covington, Kentucky.  The list price for a set containing the Stereo-Tach and the slide viewer was $22.50 plus tax in 1948.  The price was cut to $17.70 about 1950.  Sets were made for cameras using 35 mm film, roll film and Polaroid film.  The Stereo-Tach could not fit some cameras like the Kodak Bantam Special where there wasn't enough clearance around the lens for the attachment.  The Stereo-Tach stayed on the market only a few years.  
The beam-splitter principle used in the Stereo-Tach was used in stereo attachments from other manufacturers including Kodak, Leitz and Zeiss.  Pentax made one in the '70s for 35 mm SLRs.

A stereo pair made with a Stereo-Tach

The mirrors in a stereo attachment have to be precisely aligned so the images are not tilted, which would spoil the stereo effect.  The mirrors in this example are a little out of alignment.  Being part of that roughly 4% of the population without stereo vision owing to strabismus, I'm not sure how bad this one is.

Friday, December 10, 2021

Minolta 110 Zoom SLR Mark II (1981-)

Minolta released an updated version of the 110 Zoom SLR in 1981.  This model looks just like a small 35 mm SLR camera.  According to a review in the March, 1981, issue of Popular Photography, the list price was $342 (not cheap).  This example has the all lower case "minolta" on the nameplate.  Later examples have the all upper case "MINOLTA" with a barred circle logo instead of the "O".

The top of the camera has the aperture and exposure compensation dial, the hot shoe, the exposure mode dial, the shutter release and the battery check/self-timer dial.  The lens has the focusing ring, the zoom ring and the macro mode switch.

The bottom of the camera has the battery compartment, the tripod socket and the film advance lever.

The front of the camera has the battery check/self-timer LED.

The back of the camera has the eyepiece cover lever, the eyepiece diopter adjustment slider, the film door and its latch.

The left side is pretty plain, with only a strap lug.

A hand grip and strap lug are on the right side.

The lens is an f/3.5-f/16 25-67 mm zoom (equivalent to 50-135 mm on a 35 mm camera).  The zoom ring is marked at 25, 30, 40, 50 and 67 mm.  Apertures are set by a knob on the top of the camera.  Apertures are marked at f/3.5, 4, 5.6, 8, 11 and 16.  Click stops are at 1/2 stop intervals.  The mormal close focusing distance is 1.1 meters (3 ft. 7 in.).  With the macro function engaged the lens will focus from 200 mm to 890 mm (8 to 35 inches) to give 0.19x to 0.07x magnification.  The lens has 12 elements in 10 groups, plus a macro focusing element that swings in when the macro function is engaged by moving the slider on the top of the lens.

The exposure mode is set by the dial on the top right of the camera.  Functions are lock ("L"), auto ("A"), flash ("X"), and bulb ("B").  The lock setting turns off the camera and locks the shutter release.   The auto setting lets the camera automatically set the shutter speed from 1/1000 second to 1/4 second according to the light level and film speed.  The film speed is sensed by a feeler that reads a tab on the film cartridge and can be either "slow" (about 100) or "fast" (about 400).  Flash mode sets the shutter to 1/125 second to sync with electronic flash.  Bulb mode holds the shutter open for as long as the shutter button is depressed.  The shutter button is threaded for a cable release.  Pushing the BC-ST switch to the right starts the self timer.  The LED flashes while the self timer is running.  Pushing the switch to the left checks the battery.  The LED lights to show that the battery has enough power.

The viewfinder has a split image focusing aid.  Shutter speeds are displayed on the left for 1/1000, 1/500, 1/250, 1/125 and 1/60-1/4 second.  Small triangles light at the top or bottom to show over exposure or too low a shutter speed.  An eyepiece blind is provided to block stray light from coming through the eyepiece when using the self timer.  The eyepiece can be focused for -1.1 to +0.8 diopter correction by a slider above the eyepiece.  Stronger clip-in correction lenses were available in the range -4 to +3 diopters.

110 film comes in plastic drop-in cartridges.  The cartridge only fits one way.  The film advance is by the lever on the bottom left of the camera.  The film advance stops automatically at the next picture.  When the roll in finished you wind the film all the way onto the take up spool and send the cartridge the lab.

Minolta made the Auto 118X flash to work with the 110 Zoom Mk II.  The flash had one automatic range for 100 speed film and another for 400 speed film.  There also was a manual, full power, setting.  On manual the flash had a guide number of 18 meters (59 feet) with 100 speed film.  When the flash was turned on and ready to fire, an extra contact in the hot shoe received the flash ready signal to automatically switch the shutter speed to the 1/125 X-sync setting and light a flash ready LED in the viewfinder..  The manual X-sync setting on the camera was for use with flashes that did not have the dedicated flash ready signal.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Minolta 110 Zoom SLR (1976-1979)

The Minolta 110 Zoom SLR is an aperture priority auto exposure, zoom lens camera for sub miniature size 110 film.  It was made from 1976 to 1979 and was the first single lens reflex camera for 110 film.  The list price was about $200 - $250.  This was not a cheap camera.

The camera has the basic "ice cream sandwich" shape of a 110 camera with the addition of the lens barrel in front and a hump on top for the viewfinder.   The camera uses two 1.5 V silver oxide SR76 dry cells.  The top of the camera has the shutter mode selection dial, the flash shoe, the battery test button, the exposure compensation slide switch, the shutter button (threaded for a cable release) and the shutter lock.  The front of the camera has the aperture selection dial and CdS light meter cell.  The film advance lever is on the bottom.  The tripod socket is on the left side and the battery compartment is on the right.  The strap lugs are on the left and right.  The back of the camera has the film door and window.  The picture number and film cartridge label are visible through the window.

The lens is an f/4.5-f/16 25 mm-50 mm zoom macro (roughly equivalent to a 50 mm - 100 mm zoom on a 35 mm camera) with 10 elements in 10 groups.  The zoom ring on the lens is marked for 25 mm, 30 mm, 35 mm, 40 mm, 50 mm and macro.  The lens focuses as close as 1 meter in the normal focusing range.  An 11th lens element moves into place when you turn the zoom ring to the macro setting and the camera then focuses from 30.7 cm to 28.6 cm.  The lens takes 40.5 mm screw-on filters.  The aperture is manually set by a dial surrounding the CdS light sensor.

A dial sets the exposure mode to "A" (auto), "X" (flash) or "B" (bulb).  The dial has a silver latch button to prevent accidentally turning the dial.  In auto mode a feeler inside the camera engages a tab on the film cartridge to set the film speed to low (about ISO 100) or high (about ISO 400) and the shutter is electronically timed from 10 seconds to 1/1000 second.  Plus or minus 1 to 2 stops of exposure compensation is provided for unusual lighting conditions.  In flash mode the shutter is set at 1/150 second.  In bulb mode the shutter is open as long as the shutter release is pressed.  Flash mode and bulb mode will work without battery power.  In a pinch, if the battery runs out exposures can be made outdoors without an electronic flash by setting the mode to "X" and setting the aperture manually for 1/150 second shutter speed.  For example, f/11 with 100 speed film on a sunny day.

The shutter syncs with electronic flash at 1/150 second.  The camera will not work with flash bulbs.  A companion Minolta Auto 25 electronic flash unit was available.  A switch on the front of the Auto 25 can be set for manual flash or automatic flash and there is an exposure calculator dial on the back.  With flash the exposure depends on the distance to the subject, the power of the flash and the aperture of the lens.  The guide number with 100 speed film is 25 meters (82 feet) at the manual flash setting.  Guide number divided by subject distance gives the aperture setting for flash.  With automatic flash the flash power is controlled by a photocell on the flash unit.  The lens aperture is set according to the film speed, for example f/5.6  for 100 speed film or f/11 for 400 speed film.  The automatic flash range on the Auto 25 is 0.7 to 4.5 meters (2.3 to 15 feet).  The flash unit takes 2 AA dry cells.  It will work with any camera having a standard hot shoe.

The viewfinder has a microprism focusing spot in the center, a red overexposure warning light and a yellow warning light for shutter speeds longer than 1/50 second. The magnification is roughly 0.55x with the lens at 25 mm and 1.1x at 50 mm.  Because zooming the lens in the normal range does not affect the focus, you can zoom to 50 mm for critical focusing and zoom back to 25 mm or any intermediate focal length.  

Light path through the camera.

The dashed outline shows the extra macro lens element.

Negatives in 110 format are 13 mm high by 17 mm wide on 16 mm film and should be able to produce good prints at least 5" x 7".  Fresh Lomography 110 film is widely available and expired, but cold stored, Fukkatsu (Japanese for "revival") 110 film is available from the Film Photography Project.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Perfex Forty four (1939-1941)

The Candid Camera Corp. of America brought out the Perfex Forty-Four a year after the Perfex Speed Candid (  The Forty-four weighed 1 lb 8 oz without film.  It was about 5-1/2 inches wide, 3-1/4 inches tall and 2-3/4 inches deep.  The advertised list price was $47.50 (equivalent to nearly 1,000 depreciated 2021 dollars).





Interior of Back

Interior of Body

The uncoated f/2.8-f/22, 5.0 cm Scienar Perfex Anastigmat lens on this camera was made by General Scientific Corp., Chicago. Illinois.  The lens is interchangeable using a roughly 1-1/2 inch diameter screw mount.  The instruction manual for the Forty-four mentions 4-inch (102mm) and 6-inch (152mm) telephoto lenses, and extension tubes for macro photography.

The Forty-Four has a cloth focal plane shutter.  Shutter speeds were 1/1250,  1/500, 1/250, 1/100, 1/50 and 1/25 second plus “B” on the fast setting and 1/10, 1/5, 1/2 and 1 second on the slow setting.  A lever on the front of the camera switched from fast speeds to slow speeds.  On the fast speed setting the exposure was set by the gap between the first and second shutter curtains and the shutter curtains moved across the film at a constant rate. The slow speed exposures were controlled by a clockwork delay that released the second shutter curtain a split second after the first curtain had fully passed the film gate.  The shutter button was in the center of the shutter speed dial.  A threaded attachment let you use a cable release.

The range finder eyepiece is to the left of the viewing eyepiece.  A lever transfers the position of the lens to a moving mirror in the range finder.  The mirror reflects an image of the object to the bottom half of the range finder eyepiece.  The top half of the range finder shows the direct view of the object. The two halves line up when the lens is focused on the object.

The viewfinder is a reverse galilean finder with a front concave lens and a rear convex lens.  The viewfinder reduces the scene by about three times, like looking the wrong way through a spy glass.

An extinction light meter is built in.  The extinction meter has a strip of exposed and developed film with a graduated density and a calculator dial on the back of the camera.  You look at the scene through the film strip and pick out the darkest patch with a legible letter.  Using the dial you match the letter with the lens opening and the film speed with the shutter setting.  The film speeds are the Weston film speeds that were provided by the Weston Electric Instrument Corp.  ASA film speeds were not adopted until this camera was out of production.

The flash hot shoe was one of the first to be provided on a camera and took a matching Perfex flash attachment.

To load film you unlatch the two levers on the bottom of the camera and removed the back.  The fresh film cartridge goes in the left side film chamber and the film leader attaches to the removable take-up spool in the right side film chamber.  You need to keep the camera bottom up while loading so the take-up spool doesn't fall out.  The rewind-advance lever on the front of the camera needs to be set to "T" for transport.  You replace the back, advance the film three times, and set the film counter to zero.

To unload the film you set the rewind lever to "R" for rewind and turn the rewind knob until all of the film is wound back into the cassette.  You then unlatch the back and take out the film.

The Perfex line was a rival to the much more popular Argus C3, but about twice as expensive, and Perfex was ultimately unsuccessful.  Argus went on to sell more than two million C3 cameras.