Voigtländer Avus questions
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.
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?
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.
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.
Welcome to APUG Leigh
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...
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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.
Thanks, Ian! I've enjoyed your postings on the Plate Camera forum.
Originally Posted by Ian Grant
--Leigh in Santa Barbara.
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.
-- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
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)?
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.