Sacrifice an Agfa 6x9 folder for a film back?

Discussion in 'Camera Building, Repairs & Modification' started by Murray@uptowngallery, Jun 8, 2005.

  1. Murray@uptowngallery

    Murray@uptowngallery Member

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    I have a dilemma - I have an interesting lens for 6X4.5 I want to rig up in a precise box to test the lens. It has a helical focus and flange mount. I'm going to have a friendly and cheap local machinist make a metal box with carefully parallel front & rear. I might think ahead and make the rear dimensions compatible with a Graphic back (whatever the heck the preferable one is called).

    I'm looking for an inexpensive way to put a rollfilm back on the box. Chasing various 120/220 backs on eBay hasn't netted me a deal.

    I have an Agfa Ventura 69 with a lowly Agnar 105 mm lens and 3 speed Vario shutter that doesn't close all the way (loose screws and I don't know what else from previous work) . I have two other better 6x9 folders so I wouldn't miss this one too much.

    I am considering grinding the rivets off the side of the film gate, removing the bellows and trying to get down to just the body. I don't know how hard that will be to get rid of the front folding part and whether the film gate will lose its connection when the bellows is removed.

    I also think it might be nice to have two sliding plates on the 'lens side' of the rear 'standard' to effect an adjustable mask for larger than 6x4.5. The lens might cover 6x6. I'm not sure yet.

    Has anyone else gutted one of these, want to speak up (thumbs up or down) before I violate the Ventura, or have a better idea? I know the film flatness isn't always the greatest with such a filmholding path. The goal is to run some resolution tests, and maybe have a functional camera at the end.

    I really believe the lens merits the effort. It's got some nice features.

    Murray
     
  2. athanasius80

    athanasius80 Member

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    What condition is the camera in? The Agfa you describe sounds like a pretty lowly snapshooter, and its sacrifice doesn't sound like a great loss. That being said, I do hate it when people deside to play Dr. Frankenstein with mint cameras. If your Agfa has some wear/age/damage I say Do IT!

    And good luck sir.

    Chris
     
  3. Murray@uptowngallery

    Murray@uptowngallery Member

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    I hate to do it too! I have put a lot of time into the camera. It's not totally dead, so I hesitate at the same time I am inspired to donate parts.

    I have a Moskva V and a Vollenda 620 with Schneider Xenar that has been CLA'ed. So I guess I should do it.

    I have to laugh...I just had a roll developed from the Moskva & the lab said it looked like Holga work! (I forgot my tripod adapter so I just leaned it on the tripod at dawn...some shots @ 2 seconds...this didn't work too well.

    OK, I'll go for it. It can't be any harder or less productive than any of my other crazy ideas.

    Murray
     
  4. MattCarey

    MattCarey Member

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    If you have any doubts, Fedka.com has a mockba 2 with a bad rangefinder for $28. That might make a good platform for you.

    I imagine that the rangefinder will be way off anyway with the new lens.

    Matt
     
  5. Donald Qualls

    Donald Qualls Member

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    Do an eBay search on "Speedex camera" (without the quotes) and you should find a plethora of Speedex Jr., a camera I sometimes call a "folding box camera". They're fixed focus, I and T shutter, and f/11 to f/32 aperture, with a double meniscus lens. Get one with a bad bellows and/or broken door latch, scratched lens, etc., should cost less than $5 plus shipping (please don't tear up a good one -- they're amazingly good cameras for as simple as they are). It's pretty easy to get the bellows out of these, remove the door etc. -- Google "Daryl Duckworth" to find a tutorial on how to do this (in context of converting one to pinhole, in his case).

    What I envision as a problem is film plane location -- you won't, no way no how, get the film plane to match up by putting a flange on it to fit a Graflok back. You could probably pretty easily make the box to fit the body opening of the Speedex, though, and then make an adapter to connect the Graflok compatible back, thus bringing the film plane of the Graflok accessories to the same location as that of the Speedex body.

    Folding masks should be easy to fabricate; the Speedex Jr. has pin rollers which can be used to hinge the masks, which would then hide in the film spool wells when not in use.
     
  6. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Murray, I know that you much prefer to do everything the cheap way.

    But this time you should consider getting a Speed Graphic with a Graflok back and sticking the lens in front of it. Use a genuine Graflex roll holder. Or get a Speed with a spring (Graphic) back and use an Adapt-A-Roll 620, for which you already have 620 spools. You'll find other uses for the Speed after you have it.

    Cheap has its place, but if you want to end up with a functional camera cheap isn't the best way.
     
  7. medform-norm

    medform-norm Member

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    Dan, maybe Murray doesn't have a lot of money> or at least not enough for your suggestion?

    Murray, it isn't quite clear to me if you just want to test the lens (you can do that with a bit of ground glass), or if you want to attach an actual back and 'test' the lens on film. Perhaps you can elaborate a bit on that.

    If you want the latter and you want to think ahead, pre-build your box out of cardboard, stick this box onto the body you're going to use, and stick the lens on the other side. Then you can tell something about the location of the film plane by use of a ground glass taped to the back of your box. Be sure to work neat: cutting straight lines for the cardboard box will help your visual orientation when using the ground glass :wink:

    And what kind of shutter are you going to use? You did not mention that either.

    Succes, Norm
     
  8. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Norm, I don't know what Murray's circumstances are. Do you?

    I once sold him some 620 spools that happened to have decades-old b/w film on them. I'd had them for over ten years and they were well-aged when I bought them. Unknown maker, unknown ASA rating, just generic b/w film on spools that sometimes meet a need. Murray paid $10 plus postage for six spools, which is approximately the going rate. So he's not completely penniless. He got the film because it was there.

    He shot it with serious intent. Would you do that? I wouldn't. Known good out-of-date film isn't that expensive.

    Murray does a lot of interesting tinkering. I admire his spirit and his adventurousness and sometimes even his lack of respect for the conventions. But in this case, I think he'd be better off buying the tool he needs than trying to make one.

    I don't know if you caught it, but he mentioned having a machinist make a box for him. Unless the machinist is a pal who can be paid in beer or the equivalent, that won't cost little.

    Don't worry about Murray. I've never seen him take advice, even though he solicits it often.

    Regards,

    Dan
     
  9. Murray@uptowngallery

    Murray@uptowngallery Member

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    I won't try to laugh on a keyboard - spelling is too subjective.

    Dan seems to have me in a nutshell, or nutcase, whatever the situation.

    Yeah, cheap is right. But, what unfortunately happens is in some hazy moment of insanity, I decide I need to make my own emulsion or shutter leaves or altimeter or whatever. I usually get distracted by another project. Sometimes I have money, sometimes monkeys. I try to pay for one project with another, but sometimes the $-balance is a bit 'off', and I need to sell some stuff right now...that's why I'm holding tight to the wallet. The other problem is when you have 200 projects it spreads the money thin...

    That 620 film - well, since I don't have a darkroom, I take it to a local lab who sometimes charges me, sometimes doesn't...who knows, they either admire my spirit or feel sorry for me. I know the film drives them nuts, it's curled tighter than a pig's tail. The first roll cracked, the next two didn't. Looks like it was Ferrania and Ansco.

    I have been watching some SG auctions this week...actually I have a 4x5 that needs a back. The most frustrating part of the Graflex.org site is you can't solicit to buy a part! The best place in the world to find people with too many cameras and parts and you can only rely on telepathy!?!

    The machinist will be content with beer or a photo probably. The intent with the lens is to establish its credentials, which are unavailable because it was built custom for a client who doesn't seem to have the design specs anymore (or I haven't found the right person yet), and the mfr. will never divulge it.

    My intent with this lens probably will ramble on too long (even longer. A very parallel box will allow resolution tests on the lens without dealing with a sagging and misaligned front standard.

    I think I do sometimes take advice, indirectly, or long after it's given, or without being aware of it. I might not acknowledge it because project number 201 bumped it for a year or so. I tried to think this week about how many lens/camera projects I started, and I was both frustrated that I couldn't even begin to count or find half of them.

    If you've seen the 'Cat Lady' on the Simpson's (cartoon), I guess I'd be the Camera Guy equivalent.

    I actually did finish a couple things. I shot a roll of film for WPPD a month late, and I finally got a Crown Graphic back together enough to use. The 3-years expired Polaroid film that came with it is now 5-years expired but it's there and so is a decent shape 545 back, so I shot some of that just for free learning curve.

    I do appreciate all the advice and other people's efforts. I hope to be able to show something soon for all the BW I've hogged. >oink<

    Murray
     
  10. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Murray, you could try to find a "Patent Rollex" - the slip-in rollfilm holders for old plate cameras. I have two, one for 9x12cm and one for 6.5x9cm (camera sizes, that is), both give 6x9 pictures on 120 film. The added benefit is that you wouldn't have to butcher it, so you would be ready for the day when you find yourself the owner of an old folding plate camera :D
     
  11. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Murray, you're a nut case, but then, so am I. And I do enjoy reading about the predicaments you get yourself into. These days bandwidth is cheap, hog away.

    More seriously, if you want to try the lens out to see if it works horribly, why don't you hang it in front of a 35 mm SLR? You won't be able to judge coverage that way, but you will be able to see if its central image quality justifies further fiddling.

    Go on having fun,

    Dan
     
  12. k_jupiter

    k_jupiter Member

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    I'm with Dan on this one. I am alot like Murray in that I start a lot of projects and some even get finished. But, Dan has the right idea. Get a 2 1/4 Speed and hang the next 20 projects on that basic frame. It should be in every photo-tinkers toolbox. I am convinced there is NOTHING you can't do with an old Speed Graphic. So far, the only thing I haven't been able to prove is getting a Osscillo-raptar to focus at infinity on one. I need to get a new lensboard for my 2 1/4 Crown to maybe make that work.

    My next project is taking a broken shutter assembly with a 180mm Mamiya TLR lens in it and using it on my 2 1/4 Speed.

    Goodluck Murray,

    tim in san jose
     
  13. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Tim, I'm sorry and ashamed to report that I've found a few things that can't be done with a 2x3 Speed. But a Speed Graphic is just the thing for putting barrel lenses to good use without a lot of effort or vast expense.

    Two of my impossibilities are mount and use 3"/2.0 and 6"/2.8 Elcans, both ex-F95. The lenses' barrels are too big to clear the front standard, their back focuses are too short to let them make infinity with the bellows fully compressed. The 1.75"/2.8 Elcan, also ex-F95, is another thing entirely, works just fine but covers no more -- and I'm being generous about corner sharpness -- than 6x7.

    Another is use a lens much longer than 12". Imagine being limited to lenses no longer than ~ 135 mm on a 35 mm camera. Well, that's where we are with little Graphics.

    Yeah, camera mutilation is always a possibility, but not yet for me.

    Cheers,

    Dan
     
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  15. Murray@uptowngallery

    Murray@uptowngallery Member

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    I thought I would be quiet and skulk away for awhile because I found more amputated parts that might suit me for a back, but here I am again. The Agfa has 4 screws EASILY accessible along the film gate, probably to access the bellows attachment, and I cannot get any screwdrivers to start the screws loose, just tearing the heads up worse and worse. I may have to grind them off, of course, not having a Dremel tool to get in there. A file might mess up the rest of the material too much.

    I don't have any doubts about this lens' quality or 35 mm coverage, so no need to go there. The underlying theme is to prove it covers 645 adequately, and hopefully get some proof of it's quality.

    BTW, what is ex-F95 I keep reading in Dan's posts? Is that a camera of aircraft, or neither?

    M
     
  16. k_jupiter

    k_jupiter Member

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    I believe these are Canadian made Leica lens made for the military.

    Well, to be expected from the intended use of the speed. I would think a 300mm lens would be the limit of what you could reasonably handhold doing street or sports reporting photography. As far as corner coverage, my favorite back is a 6x6 roll film back. Most lens I have used will cover this format.

    I am off to hang a 180 tack sharp Jena Tessar on my 3x4 Speed. It's an easier conversion than the Mamiya and I want it for this weekend. John sent me some Efke 25 and I suspect this is going to be a nice combination.

    tim in san jose
     
  17. Murray@uptowngallery

    Murray@uptowngallery Member

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    That's an interesting idea too. Thanks.
     
  18. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    F95?

    Vinten F95. Aircraft camera, UK made, from sometime (I think) in the mid-'50s to the early '90s, used by > 30 air forces and by commercial firms, universities, ... too. Focal plane shutter. Image motion control. Eventually with auto exposure. Numerous models, later ones took lenses with shorter back focus than the original. Originally offered with 4"/2 or 12"/4 Taylor Hobson, switched to mainly Elcan lenses in the mid-60s, also eventually offered with 38/4.5 Biogon. Alternative normal lenses included 4"/1.9 Dallmeyer Rareac, 4"/1.8 Taylor Hobson, 98/1.4 Wild Heerbrugg Falconar.

    The camera part of Wm. Vinten was spun off, the last I heard it is part of Thales Optronics, a french firm, and trades as Thales Vinten. Thales was recently in merger talks with EADS, don't know how they have progressed.

    The tripod-making part of Wm. Vinten still exists as Vintec, makes and sells Vinten tripods. Vintec owns, among others, Gitzo and Manfrotto.

    All of the ex-F95 lenses I've been able to try out have been ok or better.
     
  19. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Tim, I'm with Murray in that I, um, abuse equipment by trying to use it in ways its maker never intended.

    From my perspective, 2x3 Graphics are tools for shooting 2x3. They're more than good enough for what I do and are affordable. I bought one because I wanted to shoot 2x3, not because I wanted to do "Leica + normal lens" things in 2x3, if you see what I mean.

    Cheers,

    Dan
     
  20. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    Murray,
    you can drill the heads off the screws using the Dremel & a drill bit. All it's going to take is to go through the head itself, leaving the shaft. It should be a straight shot for you.
     
  21. Donald Qualls

    Donald Qualls Member

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    Or, since you don't *have* a Dremel, you can do the same with a regular power drill. The trick is, once the screw head is badly thrashed, trying to get the drill to start centered on the screw head. If you have a drill press, you might be able to purchase a Dremel burr bit and chuck that in the drill press, then use it to "mill" off the screw heads. Might work, might not, but be very careful in doing this sort of thing with a drill press; significant side forces can unseat the chuck from the spindle, which gets exciting if you have it spinning at the higher speeds (say, 1500 rpm) at the time...
     
  22. Murray@uptowngallery

    Murray@uptowngallery Member

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    There's gotta be someone here at work with a Dremel I can borrow. I'm not allowed to bring cameras into the building, so I only bring unrecognizeable or obviously disabled parts. I had the mystery lens and a 12" Metrogon in (to measure stuff with a digital depth gauge).

    I've been involved in some screwy drill press abuse. I worked somewhere we wound electrical coils, ground ferrite ceramic and mixed epoxy all on the same ugly drill press. Someone changed the belts/pulleys to high speed and the guy mixing epoxy came back to finish HIS job. The $200/gallon can of epoxy flew against the wall :O).

    Murray
     
  23. Murray@uptowngallery

    Murray@uptowngallery Member

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    Ahh, a neighbor had a Dremel or Sears equivalent, so I didn't buy one just to grind 4 screwheads off.

    I'll be back.
     
  24. Murray@uptowngallery

    Murray@uptowngallery Member

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    I ground the screw heads off the sides of the film gate, and nothing budges. I see three rivets on each side down in the film 'wells', but they look like they would affect the integrity of the body. There are no additional screws visible on this camera, unless they are under the decorative skin. I may try solvent on the wrap to see what's underneath. The film get looks like it's part of the top & bottom sheet metal that the film holder and roller are attached (somehow) to. Looks like more 1-time hardware.

    BTW, it's an Agfa Ventura 69.

    Murray
     
  25. Donald Qualls

    Donald Qualls Member

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    If the film gate wraps down into the film spool wells, as it does on some of my folders, it might well be one-time hardware. I was able to remove the gate, and subsequently the bellows, in my Wirgin Auta, but haven't been able to get either one out of my Speedex 4.5 (which is a close cousin of that Ventura); it seems to be secured by the tripod socket, of all things, and I haven't seen any way to move the socket; it looks as if it was cold drop forged in place! Which was most annoying, since if I could get the bellows out, I'd buy a Speedex Jr. for the better bellows to put behind this decent Agnar lens and finally get some good use out of this camera -- and then have a 6x6 film transport to put a pinhole on... :smile:
     
  26. Murray@uptowngallery

    Murray@uptowngallery Member

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    I wanted to save the bellows because it's in good shape. I'll wait before getting agressive.

    I made a piece of ground glass today about 4"x12" to cut into pieces for focus checks on a few cameras. Seeing that glass got me thinking...'Pan-o-ra-ma, Pan-o-ra-ma, Pan-o-ra-ma'.