Voigtländer Avus questions

Discussion in 'Plate Cameras and Accessories' started by kavandje, Aug 9, 2008.

  1. kavandje

    kavandje Member

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    A Voigtländer Avus in more or less salvageable condition has come into my possession in a big "please get this old camera stuff out of my garage" type consignment. This camera is a thing of beauty, and I'm fascinated by the potential offered by the movements and whatnot.

    Sadly, while the bellows, lens and the movements are OK, the shutter (dial-set self-cocking Ibsor) is not, and the ground glass/back lid has split into two.

    Questions:
    Is it possible, while I try to repair the original shutter, to fit the lens into (e.g.) a Compur or Prontor I have lying around?

    Or should I try the whole shutter/lens assembly from an old Nettar or Isolette?

    The camera came with no film or plate holders; while I forage for some, is it possible, without butchering the camera itself, to fabricate a way to use standard 4x5 film holders?

    The original shutter would obviously be preferable to a retrofitted anachronism. The mechanism (i.e., the escapements and the shutter speed selection geartrain) itself seems fine, but the external release lever seems to engage a small pushrod, which in turn moves an internal shutter release lever (This shutter's designer is basking in a Special Hell). The pushrod's connecting screw is stripped. Suggestions for repair?
     
  2. leighmarrin

    leighmarrin Member

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    I'm fairly certain it would be difficult to use modern 4x5 film holders on your Avus. The Avus uses the most common type of single-sided plate/film holders used also on the Zeiss Maximar and Kodak-Nagel Reccomar, and they are fairly easy to find on eBay or antique photo dealers. (I like the Nagel-made/Kodak-branded holders the best: they will work with cut/sheet film. Most of the others require a film sheath to fit in the slot meant for a glass plate.)

    Yours is a 9x12cm, right? If it came with a 135mm or 150mm lens, it probably is. Efke PL 100 sheet film is available in 9x12cm size from several European dealers, and Freestyle in California. The Jobo daylight tank that fits six 4x5" sheets will also work with 9x12cm sheet film.

    Can't help you on the lens/shutter questions... which lens is in the Ibsor shutter? If it's a Skopar, it's a Tessar copy, but I frankly don't know if it will fit in other shutters.

    Might be easier to fit another lens/shutter. I recently picked up for $9/US in a thrift store a well-worn 9x12cm Zeiss Donata with light-tight bellows & missing a lens, but was happy to find that it will fit both my Kodak Ektar 203mm f7.7 and 127mm f4.7 Ektar lenses with Supermatic shutters. The camera will also close totally with both lenses. (But not with a lenscap on.)

    Anyway, sorry I can't answer most of your questions, but 9x12cm plate cameras are a lot of fun to use, and far smaller than any 4x5" camera. I've also got a 9x12cm "BeeBee" camera with a Zeiss 135mm Tessar, and have got some good pictures from it.

    --Leigh in Santa Barbara, Calif.
     
  3. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    The Ibsor shutter is very like the early Prontor Press, so much so I wonder if there aren't the same. I have one with a Rodenstock lens fitted. If you search the forum you'll find there is a guy in the states who makes occasional one off conversions to enable the cameras to be used with 5x4 double sided film holders, but I think that takes the fun away from them.

    However finding 9x12 plate holders is fairly easy from Europe, and film is readily available from Ilford, EFKE, Foma etc. Try Fotoimpex.de or Fomafoto in Norway - both APUG sponsors.

    You can also get Rollex roll film backs, I have 2. GVB in BBelgium can supply a new glass screen - I'm going to fit his Lumigrid™ type screen as the original 9x12 screens are ver dim.

    Ian
     
  4. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Welcome to APUG Leigh :D

    Ian
     
  5. kavandje

    kavandje Member

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    As far as film is concerned: I would love to shoot 9x12, either film or glass, in this camera, and I do know that I can get 9x12 film fairly easily (from impex, as Ian suggests, or from monochrom.de). I like the idea that this is basically a halfway-house between a field camera and a pocket bellows folder; I anticipate some lovely photos once i get things working reliably.

    The trouble is that I'm not in Europe -- this makes things like e-bay or antique photo dealers an iffy proposition. In the long term, I'd love to get hold of the original hardware, but in the meantime, I'm wanting to 'make a plan' as they say around here: take pictures and damn the torpedoes. I'll see what I can figure out.

    As for the shutter/lens: The lens is a Vogitar f/6.3 135mm anastigmat, which seems pretty sharp, though of course it's difficult to tell for sure by just holding a 4x5 ground screen to the back of the camera...

    From a cursory examination (i.e., holding the two cameras next to each other), it has struck me that the 105mm Novar -Anastigmat/Prontor-S assembly from my Nettar looks as though it might be the same sort of size as the Vogitar/Ibsar. I intuit that this would give me a mild wide-angle effect, which might actually be kind of cool, though I wonder if the Novar has sufficient coverage for 9x12 or 4x5.

    On another theme, I see that the aperture blades seem to be made of paper, and on two of the leaves, the little brass rivets which move them have come out. Suggestions?

    I guess an afternoon's tinkering is called for; I just wish I had more junkers as donor parts; the Nettar works perfectly, and I don't really want to pull it apart...
     
  6. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    I think you'll find that the Vogitar lens was the cheapest available on the Voightlander cameras and quite basic, all the various manufacturers offered a range of 9x12 cameras with a variety of shutters and lenses.

    Your 105mm Novar might fit but it certainly won't cover 9x12. I have a modern coated 105mm Rodenstock Trinar (similar to the Novar) and I tried that on a 9x12 & 5x4 and it certainly doesn't cover either format.

    There are plenty of links to making your own glass screen, but to convert to 5x4 you need to make an adaptor which holds 5x4 darkslides, and you'd need to make a matching 5x4 focussing screen.

    I think you'd find a much better lens/shutter without to much effort or cost, and 9x12 holder try placing a wanted advert here on APUG. Look in the Plate camera sub forum I've written a page showing some of the variations of Plate/film holders I've got.

    Ian
     
  7. leighmarrin

    leighmarrin Member

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    Thanks, Ian! I've enjoyed your postings on the Plate Camera forum.

    --Leigh in Santa Barbara.
     
  8. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    The Avus was the "mid-level" Voigtländer plate camera of that time (1930), and came with either Voigtar (triplet) or Skopar (tessar-type) lenses in either Ibsor or Compur shutters. In 1925 the "cheap" shutter was named "Ibso", so yours must be newer than that. But by that time Voigtländer was already using what became the modern standard shutter sizes, so the odds of a good fit to a newer shutter are very good indeed! The rim-set Compur shutter was brand new then, so it wouldn't be much of an anachronism!

    The VAG was a cheaper camera, the Bergheil the more expensive one.

    Here's one of each of those - a 9x12 Bergheil and a 6.5x9 VAG. Note the Ibsor shutter on the VAG. It takes really nice pictures. :smile:

    [​IMG]
     
  9. kavandje

    kavandje Member

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    OK, so pending repairing the Ibsor, are you suggesting I ought to be able to set the Vogitar in a Compur? Is there a write-up on this online somewhere?

    Also, can someone provide a link to how to repair the ground glass holder (including glass proportion)?
     
  10. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    There aren't standard threads on many of the shutters. I did try my Tessar cells but they wouldn't fit my particular Ibsor, they came in a 1931 Compur and also fit a modern Copal 1.

    Sometimes pre-war 135mm & 150mm 9x12 lenses in good shutters sell for very reasonable prices $20-$30, or you can find 9x12 cameras incomplete but with a good working lens/shutter for about the same. I'll let you know if I see one.

    The ground glass holders are quite simple, about the only thing that can need repairing is the fabric or the glass. I've jus had to replace the fabric on pre Anniversary Speed Graphic. Glass is very easy to replace but again they aren't standard so you'll have to measure the old one / and the sppace it fits in.

    Grinding a new glass screen is quite quick and easy according to many people, and there are plenty of examples of how to make your own on the internet, you need to do a search of Apug as well. I have some Agfa glass plates that are ideal so I stripped off the emulsion, now they need cutting to size and grinding - I want to try for myself even though I'll buy GVB screens.

    Ian
     
  11. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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  12. JPD

    JPD Member

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    That's a very good suggestion. Old glass plates have the right thickness to fit the Voigtländer gg holder.

    Avus instruction manual:

    http://66.49.230.119/voigtlander_pdf/voigtlander_avus.pdf
     
  13. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    I have a box of old Agfa scientific plates no idea what they were for, and can't remember where I got them, I just opened the box in the end in daylight and they deteriorated bdly anyway. Tey are the perfect width for the one 9x12 which is missing a screen, I think approx 9 x 28 cm, so I could get 2 screens out of each plate. I'll make spare glass inserts for my Durst enlargers at the same time. As a penniless student in the earky 70's I made some from FP4 plates. There still perfect :D

    Not sure how different in size the focus screens are compared to 9x12 plates. I'll check next time I'm in the UK.

    Ian
     
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  15. JPD

    JPD Member

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    The Avus screen is 89,7 x 138mm and a 9x12 plate is 89 x 119.

    From the manual:

    In case the focussing screen should get broken take particular care to remove all splinters of glass from inside the camera. The screen frame is taken in both hands with the screen turned to oneself, and by means of the thumbs the broken screen is pushed away to the open side of the frame. A new focussing screen is easily inserted in a similar manner.

    the focussing screen has a smooth shiny side and a grained side (matt). This is the side which should always point to the lens. In extreme cases when no new glass can be obtained an ordinary unexposed photographic plate will serve temporarily very well for the purpose. Here the emulsion side must face the lens.

    Always see that the corners of the glass are slightly cut away to allow an escape of air out of the bellows when closing the camera.
     
  16. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    Hey, I recognise that guy!

    By "split into two", do you mean that the two frames have come apart, leaving the ground glass itself free in between?

    My Avus came with the same problem, and I haven't really been able to work out a satisfactory solution---the frame seems to have been held together with plugs of solder used like rivets. The most promising approach seems to be to drill these plugs out and use the resulting holes to wire the two halves of the frame back together, but I think the results will be dodgy at best.

    In the meantime, I've just been holding a ground glass against the back. I should try to put shims together to get it positioned a little more precisely. I'm considering sacrificing a plate holder for a long-term solution; cut out (most of) the back of the holder, leave the darkslide off, and leave a ground glass in it in place of a plate. (Actually, maybe I can make this work with one of my ninety-seven film-pack holders instead.)

    I'd try the latter. The Voigtlaender shutter can be unscrewed fairly easily; I don't know if your existing shutters will fit in its place or cover 9x12, but you might as well try, right?

    There seem to be quite a few of these old Voigtlaender cameras knocking around (in Europe, especially), many of them with Skopars. If you can score one of these with a bad bellows, it shouldn't cost much and you could switch the shutter over easily.

    I don't think so. I looked pretty hard at this possibility when I got my first plate cameras; there are springbacks around for use with 2x3 or 3x4 holders, but I haven't found a way to use 4x5. Pity, since it would greatly expand the choice of emulsions.

    Can you post a picture? (I know you don't do d*g*t*l, but maybe you can get someone to take it for you...)

    -NT
     
  17. kavandje

    kavandje Member

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    As Ntenny correctly surmised, the frame is indeed in two pieces, the solder/rivets having separated. The ground glass is 'free' in the sense that it isn't there at all...

    I've been asking around if anyone has any of these to give away / sell as a parts camera, but so far nothing.

    My girlfriend is a goldsmith, and quite an accomplished metalworker, so I'll see if we can figure something out.

    We're also, once I have a replacement shutter, going to have a look at repairing the original shutter's innards, perhaps even improving it, and we'll be documenting the process.

    But yeah: a Skopar-equipped junker with a working shutter would be the solution to the front half of my worries...
     
  18. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    I'm working on the lens/shutter. I have a possible contact for junkers, I'll email him tomorrow but there's no certainty he'll have anything at the moment. I'm a back short too, and a finder, and ultimately a lens/shutter for my 3rd 9x12, but that one's bottom of the pile. However I'll be happy to just start using my 2 good ones for now, but unfortuately there in the UK.

    Will PM if I find something.

    Ian
     
  19. kavandje

    kavandje Member

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    I'm also casting about, thus far with no luck, but with a few potential leads. There are a lot of old cameras lurking around in peoples' closets on farms and suchlike, so I will keep looking.

    It has crossed my mind to fabricate a new ground glass holder out of brass, which can be soldered. I'll take some measurements, see about finding some brass, and get busy with the snips and the dremel...
     
  20. leighmarrin

    leighmarrin Member

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    Should you find a 9x12cm FILM PACK ADAPTER, these can be easily made into ground glass backs by gluing a chunk of glass inside. As Film Packs are long obsolete, film pack adapters are often sold for even cheaper than plate/film holders.
     
  21. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    They are quite common on Ebay, I've seen a lot lately. It makes total sense to start with something thatb fits & works.

    Ian
     
  22. JPD

    JPD Member

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    I've done that, but I used plexiglass with scotch magic tape instead of glass. Easy to focus on, light weight and almost unbreakable. :smile:
     
  23. JPD

    JPD Member

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    By the way, I got two Ibsor shutters running again after a quick simple fix last week. You open the shutter from the back, by unscrewing the four screws. Remember where the shutter blades should go (they are numbered). Small drops of naptha on the speed gear axles, and then tiny amount of fine oil, was enough for my Ibsors.

    Ibsors are simpler and cheaper than Compurs, but not bad. B and T are on the same wheel as the speeds, and there's no need to cock the shutter, making it fast to work with. :smile:
     

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  24. Eugen Mezei

    Eugen Mezei Member

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    What exactly were the differences?
    I got offered a Bergheil and an Avus from two different sources.

    Eugen
     
  25. Matthew Rusbarsky

    Matthew Rusbarsky Member

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    Nice way to resurrect a 3 year old thread! The Avus has rise and shift and a double extension bellows. The Bergheil has all that and a drop bed. Plus the wire frame connects to the front standard (so it shifts and drops with the lens). Also most Bergheils had a bayonet for a few accessory lens/shutter units made for the camera. Good luck finding those unless you are rich. Could be wrong about this, but the Avus and Bergheil have a standard back (as standard as those things were at the time) so plates were interchangable between the cameras along with the Certo Bee-Bee and Nagel Recomar. Makes finding a rollfilm back much easier.
     
  26. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    This is right. The only thing I can't speak to is the Certo Bee-Bee, but I regularly interchange backs and holders among a Bergheil, an Avus, and a Recomar.

    I may be wrong, but I think only the Bergheil was available with the Heliar, which (at least in a good sample) can be one hell of a lens. (The Avus seems usually to have a Color-Skopar, which is a perfectly good Tessar type.)

    -NT