Saturday, July 30, 2011

A gift from the other side of the big pond

A gift from the other side of the Pond

My friend Harry, from Tennessee, found this gem on a garage sale and decided to offer it to me. 
The picture above was taken when it arrived.

Harry hadn't opened the enclosure but, he saw the white dust in the camera inside and decided to add another Instamatic 104 to substitute the one, eventually, damaged by the batteries acid.

I made some research and found an article on Popular Mechanics, June 1969, about water tight enclosures for Instamatic cameras, where this is mentioned and depicted as being a Dacor product.
This being said, we can nail it's production on late 1960's.

So this is a Dacor waterproof enclosure for a kodak Instamatic 104, probably it'll fit other Instamatic cameras of the same vintage.
The flashcube contraption is marked Ikelite, in the Popular Mechanics article it's pictured with a bulb flash.

Next step was to make a record of the initial state, that was quite good as you can see in the next shots:


DSC_9779           DSC_9784
DSC_9782           DSC_9783


DSC_9787          DSC_9786

DSC_9788         DSC_9789


Next came the scrubbing, under the kitchen tap using dish washing liquid and a sponge. 
Polished the metal parts, and got new terminals to the flash connectors.



Then reassemble it:

DSC_9875         DSC_9877

DSC_9878        DSC_9889


DSC_9892         DSC_9893



DSC_9895     DSC_9897


Kodak Instamatic 104 in Dacor UW enclosure 

So here it is ready to use, or not yet, first I have to test it's water tightness, if it passes the test I have to hurdle some flash cubes and try one of my very, very expired Konica 126 cassettes.

Once again, thank you Harry.

Stay tuned (o;

Thursday, July 28, 2011

#28 Vest Pocket Kodak Autographic

Vest Pocket Kodak  (3)

I have already mentioned this camera in older posts but I believe it deserves a more in depth review.

The Vest Pocket Kodak Autographic
Vest Pocket Kodak  (5)
Vest Pocket Kodak Autographic by RaúlM.

  • Single meniscus lens about 75mm 1:11
  • Three blades, Kodak ball bearing shutter, 1/25, 1/50 B and T
  • Fixed focus ~1.8m to infinity
  • 8, 4x7cm, exposures on 127 film
  • Folding bellows in trellis struts
  • Autographic window and stylus 
  • Size and weight: 67x121x30mm, 316g
Pulling the lens plate all the way, about 70mm, it clicks and stays rigid and focused.
Then is time to compose the image using the bright viewfinder that can be turned 90 degrees to take landscape pictures. The viewfinder mask accommodate both formats, portrait and landscape.

Vest Pocket Kodak Autographic top view
Top view and the bright viewfinder

Vest Pocket Kodak Autographic shutter closed
Shutter closed aperture 4 = f32

The lens is behind the shutter and aperture blades. There is a choke to avoid apertures smaller than f11. This way only the central part of the lens is used, avoiding the flare, that these lenses are prone.

In Japan this is very appreciated, so there are people that remove the choke and adapt these lenses to modern cameras to take advantage of the dreamy effect produced by the huge flare, at larger apertures.

Vest Pocket Kodak Autographic shutter open
Shutter opened (T) aperture 1 = F11

The apertures are marked as 1-2-3-4.
Being 1 = f11 the others should be 16, 22 and 32.
In some models the numbers have a scene correspondence:
  1. Near view Portraits
  2. Average view
  3. Distant view
  4. Clouds Marine
In these models the shutter speeds were identified like this:
  • 1/25 Clear
  • 1/50 Brilliant

The loading of the film is made by removing the side plate and introducing simultaneously both spools.

Vest Pocket Kodak Autographic film loading
Loading 127 film 

In the back there's a removable round port, to access the back of the lens, for cleaning purposes.
In the centre of that port is the red window, used to monitor the film advance.

Vest Pocket Kodak Autographic back port removed
Back port removed

Vest Pocket Kodak Autographic using stylus
The autographic feature is the ancestor of the the quartz date backs.
After the exposure one could open the small window and, using the iron stylus, write the date, place, whatever, in the backing paper. Then expose it, for a few seconds, to direct sunlight. When the film was processed they got their "analogue EXIF" in the space between negatives.
This was possible with a type of film, introduced in 1915 alongside with this new feature, the Kodak nº A-127.

Some facts about the VPK
It was made by Eastman Kodak Company, Rochester N.Y., U.S.A., from 1912 to 1926.
They sold about 1.750.000 units.
The VPK was the first camera to use 127 film.
This name it's self explanatory, it was a camera that could be carried in a vest pocket. In fact it isn't much bigger than many of the compact digital of today.
This was the successor of the long praised collapsible large Kodak cameras.
It's success was due to the small size and price. They sold for $6.
This price was possible due to it's simpler construction, instead of  wood, metal, leather... of the older and bigger models the VPK was made of an aluminium alloy fastened with rivets. What explains why there are still so many, in very good condition, today.

The first models didn't had the autographic feature and were painted in smooth black.
The autographic model was launched in 1915 with a black crackled finish, also called Japan crystal.
There was some special models with better, some focusing, lenses, like the Rapid Rectilinear by Baush & Lomb, the Cooke triplet, Zeiss Tessar and the rare Lacour-Berthiot Olor. Also different shutters and, some of these special models, were covered in leather.

As it was a very portable camera, there was a lot of WWI soldiers who took them to the trenches, what was strictly prohibited. That gave it the nickname "Soldier's camera".

Charles Lindberg used to carry one with him in his adventurous flights.

George Mallory, maybe the first person to reach the Everest summit, had one with him when he and Andrew Irving headed to the last part of the ascent. Both died, the body of Mallory and most of the personal effects were found, Irving's body and the camera were never recovered, in it could be the proof of their feat.

My camera story
This VPK belonged to an aunt and godmother of my father, named Rosália, she was born in the early years of the XX century. I can't say if she used it much or even if she was the original owner of the camera. All I can say is that she gave it, at some point, to my father.
He liked to show it to me when I was a kid, at home it was called aunt Zália's camera.
My father used it as a young boy.
As I started collecting cameras he gave it to me along with the ICA Minimum Palmos and the Halina X35 Super, on my birthday in 2008.

I was very curious to see what it was capable of, so I got some Efke R100 127 film, from Fotoimpex, Berlin, and made a few rolls with it.
The results amazed me:

Coruña-Praia Riazor
Playa Riazor, Coruña, Galicia, Spain by RaúlM.

Ribeira, Porto, Portugal by RaúlM.

D. Luis I bridge, Porto, Portugal by RaúlM.

These are some of my favourite photos, taken with it.

I take the chance to thank my parents for having given it to me and particularly, to my father, for the "photo infection" that he gave me when I was a little boy.

Vest Pocket Kodak - Os meus pais que me deram a câmara
My parents by RaúlM.

Thank you mum and dad.

Stay tuned (o;

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

# 27 ICA Minimum Palmos

Ica Minimum Palmos
ICA Minimum Palmos by Raúlm

Some history
This camera has been in my family for, at least, three generations.
My grandfather used it in his honeymoon, he passed it to my father, that never used it, he had it only for display, my father gave it to me on my birthday in 2008.

This camera was produced by ICA A.G. between 1909 and 1926. Before that it was made by Palmos A.G. Jena, a camera company owned by Carl Zeiss Jena, since 1902.
ICA A.G. Dresden (International Camera A.G.) was formed in 1909 by the merger of several camera companies:
Palmos A.G. Jena, Wünsche Dresden, R. Hüttig & Sohn Berlin and Dr. R. Krugener Frankfurt a.M. 
A few years later G. Zulauf and Co. Zurich. merged to ICA A.G.
When Zeiss Ikon A.G. started it's operations in 1926, it was the end of ICA A.G.

Ica Minimum Palmos
ICA Minimum Palmos by Raúlm
Ica Minimum Palmos Model B (#456)
Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar f=15cm 1:4,5
Lens shift and 90º rotation
Helicoid focusing front element
Strut folding camera 
Leather bellows
Vertical cloth focal plane shutter 1/15-1/1000
9x12cm sheet film

This is a very compact camera, for a 9x12 sheet camera. It presents an impressive range of shutter speeds due to it's focal plane shutter

Ica Minimum Palmos
Top view, shutter speeds table
Shutter speed selection 
Using the table, on a brass plaque on the camera top plate, we can read, on the left column, the curtain gap size, and on the top row the number that stands for the tension of the spring. 
The shutter speeds on the table are the result of these two factors. 
Once the shutter speed is chosen we have to read the table to determine the curtain gap size and  the tension necessary to select it.
Using the big black round knob, on top, to wind the shutter and also to chose the curtain gap. 
Behind the big window, covered with an acetate, there is a gear with a series of holes, identified with the curtain gap sizes. Select it by pushing and turning the knob.
Then using the small silver coloured knob, on bottom left, and reading the number in the tiny window above it, we select the tension. It only travels clockwise.
Ica Minimum Palmos
Side view, shutter controls
To reset the tension use the smaller black knob, bottom right, marked M and Z.
The shutter release is that black protruding prong above the reset knob.

This operation must be carried out without the plate holder or with it in place but protected by the dark slide, hence the shutter it isn't self capping.

Composing and Focusing
To compose the picture we can use the magnificent ground glass or the very useful, for hand held pictures, sports finder:

Ica Minimum Palmos
Back view with ground glass assembly and raised sports finder
The ground glass is priceless for precise focusing.
With the sports finder the distance has to be guestimated.

The ground glass assembly includes a set of shades, better viewed in the following picture:

Ica Minimum Palmos

Ground glass shades on display
That folds neatly, when not in use:

Ica Minimum Palmos
Double sided plate holder and folded ground glass assembly
and displays, embossed in the magnificent leather cover, the ICA logo:

Ica Minimum Palmos
Logo displayed in ground glass cover
Plate holders
The camera as two plate holders one double sided, one plate on each side the other is for using with some kind of cartridge. I confess that I couldn't find any info about the latter.

Ica Minimum Palmos
ICA Minimum Palmos kit by RaúlM.
The double sided plate holder is on top of the one using cartridges(?) 

Ica Minimum Palmos
 lens default position
Ica Minimum Palmos
 lens rotated 90º and shifted
Shift lens
The lens that rotates ninety degrees allows, very limited, shift movements.

ICA Minimum Palmos in action
This picture of my grandparents, during their honeymoon, in July of 1929, was taken with this camera:

Help me identify the camera on the bench
My grandparents in their honeymoon, July 1929

I have only a copy of a print that, god knows when, someone partially colourized, with crayons.
On the bench next to my grandmother is a movie camera.

Thanks to Fulvue the movie camera was identified as a Pathe Motocamera from 1928, what adds up, this picture was taken in mid July 1929.

This is one picture taken by me to include in my project "I, me and my cameras".
Not a very good one, I'm afraid, but if we want we can squeeze pictures from a centennial camera, like this:

Me and ICA Minimum Palmos
Me and ICA Minimum Palmos by RaúlM.

Stay tuned (o;