Sacrifice an Agfa 6x9 folder for a film back?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Photography has always fascinated me -- as a child, simply for the magic of capturing an image onto glossy paper with a little box, but as an adult because of the unique juxtaposition of science and art -- the physics of optics, the mechanics of the camera, the chemistry of film and developer, alongside the art in seeing, composing, exposing, processing and printing.
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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.
Dan, maybe Murray doesn't have a lot of money> or at least not enough for your suggestion?
Originally Posted by Dan Fromm
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
And what kind of shutter are you going to use? You did not mention that either.
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.
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, 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
-- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist