Ensign Selfix

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by NormanV, Aug 1, 2008.

  1. NormanV

    NormanV Member

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    I have just processed the first film from my Ensign Selfix 820 that I have owned for nearly 2 years but have just had the shutter serviced. The negs look amazing! I have an RB67 and a Fuji GW690 and I am fearing that they may have just become obsolete. Neither of those will fit in my pocket, and I certainly don't have "deep" pockets.
     
  2. Allan Swindles

    Allan Swindles Member

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    My first 'real' camera was a 12/120 Ensign Selfix with a superb Ross Xpress lens. To this day I regret ever letting it go. Enjoy it.
     
  3. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    Unfortunately I'm old enough to remember the Haughton Ensign Selfix although I have never owned one, the Ross Xpress was indeed a very fine lens, I'm pleased to hear that someone appreciates, and is willing to spend Cash on fixing one .
     
  4. simulatordan

    simulatordan Member

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    Hello NormanV,

    I have an Ensign Selfix 820 which I bought a few years ago as a cheap entry into medium format. I was suprised to find that I could use it in 6 x 6 and 6 x 9 format with either 12 or 8 exposures to the roll; it is also possible to have 6 x 7.5 as well by adjusting the little 'blinds' before loading the film.

    My camera works very well with the exception of the shutter release llinkage which is a bit worn and sometimes fails to fire; I'v got round this be using the cable release instead.

    Enjoy it its a fine little camera.

    Regards Daniel
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 4, 2008
  5. richard littlewood

    richard littlewood Member

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    After using an 820 for a few years now, I wouldnt be without it. Mine is used on 6x9 all the time - I took out the flaps in the camera back. I've messed around with a few xpres 105 lenses and the best of them is really good, especially around f16 - there is an amazingly large centre circle of pin sharpness, although I have to say sometimes the edges can be soft a bit, and weirdly this appears at infinity in a scene and not closer to the camera. Even then it is a nit picking softness that I dont mind at all.
    A few things I've also noticed -
    A lens hood is a good idea (42mm push fit - e-*a*)
    Also 42mm push fit filters are a good idea
    I glued a rectangular piece of an old 5x4 darkslide onto the film pressure plate because I found the original plate missed the film in places - it dosnt now!
    I also added some light seal foam round the back opening so it will take Delta 3200 without worrying.
    The bellows dont like getting wet - or damp!
    The viewfinder is sometimes brilliant and sometimes a real pain
    It is though one of the few cameras from the olden days that can give negs that are really very good, although some folks will say otherwise - probably a quality control issue with lens production at Ross in the 50's I imagine.
    Glad to hear others are using and liking what has become one of my favourite cameras.
     
  6. NormanV

    NormanV Member

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    I am sorry to say but when I printed them I was disappointed with the sharpness. It won't be taking over as my number one camera but I might keep it in the car for chance shots. My Fuji will remain my first choice.
     
  7. JPD

    JPD Member

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    I had an Ensign Selfix 820 and was disappointed at first, but then I noticed that the lens/shutter assembly was loose, so I just tightened the locking ring. I really liked the built-in mask for 6x6.
     
  8. richard littlewood

    richard littlewood Member

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    Norman
    Dont be put off quite yet! I think the first thing to do is to check the lens is set up OK. The front lens element that does the focusing not only rotates in and out but it is adjustable via 3 tiny slot head grub screws round its ring. If you can, take this ring off, put a piece of ground glass over the film gate - or I sometimes use a piece off a hard CD case roughened up on one side with a pan scourer, put the camera on a tripod, then turn the front lens cell till it focuses on something at infinity - easy in the Falklands!. If you are happy that you have infinity, pop the ring back on without moving the lens element and tighten the little screws up so the rod out of the shutter is against the rod of the ring, ie the ring stops turning at infinity.
    I've noticed that if I use the red dot on the focusing things are sharp from about 20 feet to infinity at something like f16, and I have to say even with a distant landscape type pic where everything is at infinity I'll still use the red dot and stop down. Also I've found that once an accurate infinity is set, the distance numbers round the focusing ring are pretty accurate.
    When I first started using this camera a lot I had to remind myself that it was a 105mm lens, because I couldnt get a decently sharp image hand held - especially at f16, but using Delta 400 or HP5 with the camera on a monopod I can get sharp negs even using a 25th shutter speed, and it goes without saying a tripod solves all shake problems.
    Its worth also checking out the film pressure plate, as it is no hassle to stick something on it to make it actually hold the film rather than do nothing - those old folders have quite a suck on the film if opened too quick even though there is an light tight airway on the shutter mounting ring.
    I dont know if this all sounds like too much faffing! I have to say I spent possibly too long messing with my 820, but I'm glad I did as it is now a usable camera - especially if the lens is used between f11 - f22. I've done a few 28 inch wide prints from it that are dead good.
    Dont shove it in the attic yet!
     
  9. Russ Young

    Russ Young Member

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    I have TWO Ensign 6x6 (and leather case) with the superb Ross Xpres lens. I don't believe any older folder will be as sharp as the Fujinon lens but these are pretty fine. Something must be out of whack on yours. Could there be a film on the inner lens surfaces from evaporated shutter lubricant? Did you test it on a tripod to eliminate any possibility of shake? Don't despair!

    Russ Young
     
  10. NormanV

    NormanV Member

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    I have had the shutter out for repair and reset the focus but I am not absolutely certaain that it is perfect. But surely a distant shot at f11 would have something in focus? I havn't given up on it yet. I have a Ross Xpres 6" f4 lens that compares well with with sharpness but not contrast of a 150mm f4 Componon lens at 10 feet. I was hoping for something similar from my Selfix.
     
  11. richard littlewood

    richard littlewood Member

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    Camera shake?
     
  12. JPD

    JPD Member

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    The best way to adjust the focus is to first check with a ground glass on the film plane, adjust the infinity focus, and then with film, turning the focus ring in very small steps between each shot.

    I use a numbered scale with eight markings for 6x9 or twelwe markings for 6x6. After taking the test shots I develop the film and study the negatives. If shot number three is the sharpest, I turn the mark the front element so the mark I have made on the mount corresponds with number 3 on the scale, put the focusing ring on and locks it in place.

    This way you take the film bulge in to account. I developed this method when I wasn’t satisfied with the results from my Zeiss Ercona II camera. I first adjusted the focus using a ground glass on the film plane. The results were better, but not enough. So I tried with this method, and was amazed by the difference. The Ercona II is now the sharpest 6x9 camera I have.
     

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  13. Murray@uptowngallery

    Murray@uptowngallery Member

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    Apologies if I missed anyone else who said this:

    The lens is probably a 4 element design similar to a Tessar or other 4 element anastigmat. With such lenses, it's usually recommended/necessary to stop down to at least f/11, and with all 6x9 folders, it's good and oft-given advice to open the bellows BEFORE winding to the next frame. The extension of the bellows can create suction that can pull the negative away from the pressure plate (toward the lens), resulting in inconsistent focus.

    Stopping down to f/11 or further also applies to triplet folders. (To get sharpness across the entire negative)
     
  14. richard littlewood

    richard littlewood Member

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    Jpd.
    Never thought about fine tuning the focus like you have, and it also looks like you are talking about very small amounts of adjustments in focus.
    One advantage with a Selfix 820 is the double exposure prevention thingy - unless you use a cable release to fire the shutter that is. This device means its easy to first fold out the camera, then wind on the film from the previous shot, because the shutter wont fire again untill the film is wound on, and assuming the film pressure plate is doing its job, there is no reason why the film, at this stage should not be as flat as it gets.
    I suppose different films do actually have different qualities when it comes to lying flat, but for me the most important improvement in that area was to check out how effective the pressure plate was, and in my Selfix 820 it was crap! - not enough pressure, and it missed in 2 opposing corners of the frame. I couldnt see how to take it off to improve the springiness, so I made it thicker, and without being able to see what it actually does to a loaded film, I now assume it keeps the film pressed against the guides.
    I know modern gear is generally dead good, but some of these old folders, (and the folks who use them know good ones and bad) are pretty good, and cheap, though they do seem to require though a fair amount of tinkering around with.