Help With a Super Isolette

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by russljames, Sep 18, 2009.

  1. russljames

    russljames Subscriber

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    I have what might be a rather unique example of an Agfa Super Isolette, and its unusual twist poses a bit of a challenge for shooting. I’m hoping that there might be a remedy.

    The camera that I have (found at a local flea market) has a dead film counter mechanism. From everything that I’ve read, unless a working replacement can be found, once this mechanism fails your camera becomes a nice wall decoration. However, sometime in its history, this camera was modified so that that the counter mechanism got bypassed, allowing the shutter to operate perfectly. So as to then have some sort of counter, a red viewing hole was created in the camera back. But the placement of the viewing hole is what poses the challenge.

    The viewing hole was not made in the center of the camera back where the traditional placement would be for a 6x6 camera. It was made instead in the upper right part of the back, above the film pressure plate. So if I use it, I am actually seeing the frame numbers for what I think is 6x9, and much film gets wasted. My alternative has been using the arrow on the film advance knob as a guide and counting rotations as I advance film. I’m getting closer to having 12 exposures on the roll, but 10 is the average.

    I’m thinking that the placement of the viewing hole was done so as to avoid drilling through the film pressure plate, leaving jagged metal coming into contact with film passing by. So………..

    Question #1: Would it be possible to remove the existing pressure plate and replace it with a conventional-with-hole 6x6 plate? A new viewing hole could be made in the back and the existing one permanently sealed off. Or………

    Question#2: Is it possible to replace the existing camera back with another Agfa or Ansco 6x6 fold-out camera back that has the proper viewing hole? I’m thinking most answers to this question will be “no”, as the other Isollettes appear to use a different back and open/close mechanism altogether, but I’d love to be pleasantly surprised.

    Thanks in advance for any input/guidance. This is my first post to the web page and forums.
     
  2. Jeff Searust

    Jeff Searust Member

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    I have a couple isolettes, but would still have to look carefully at yours... make sure if you do a new hole that you aren't going through anything important, i.e. springs. then make a new hole--- lightproof the old hole and just don't use 220 in it..LOL
     
  3. P C Headland

    P C Headland Subscriber

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    The Iskra, a Soviet copy of the Super Isolette often has this modification done, for exactly the same reasons.

    See if you can contact an Iskra owner whose camera has been modified in this way, and get them to send some pictures.
     
  4. russljames

    russljames Subscriber

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    Thanks for the suggestion about the Iskra. I'll do some reading on it also.
     
  5. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    Another option is to do what I did with my Polaroid 6x10 conversion.

    Use a scrap film and work out how many rotations of the winder it takes to get to the start (to the nearest quarter turn).

    Then count the turns between frames.

    Make up a little label and stick it on the bottom.


    Steve.
     
  6. russljames

    russljames Subscriber

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    Thanks, Steve. I've actually done that already with some degree of success. On my camera though it seems that the number of turns needed changes as the film gets closer to the end of the roll, due perhaps to the size of the take-up spool growing as film gets added to it. If I'm out shooting a whole roll in one location keeping track of shots is manageable. Its when several weeks have gone by and I am picking up the camera in the middle of a roll that guessing and errors take over.

    So your suggestion of making a more accurate log and then taping it to the camera is a good one. I'll give it a try.
     
  7. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    Exactly right. It's not too much of a problem with a 6x10 camera which takes about seven shots but when you get to twelve it could be a long list.

    I would use the same figure for the first four then a revised figure for the next four, etc.

    You may end up with eleven and a half shots per roll this way though!


    Steve.