Week 59 – Ventura 66 Deluxe

George is back, and he’s hard at work trying to identify the Ventura 66

This one had me scratching my head. I found a $6 last-minute deal for a “Venture 66” on eBay a while back. It looked neat, but a quick search turned up nothing.  I bought it anyway.

When it arrived, the focus ring was seized.  I made an abortive attempt at freeing it, then the camera went on the shelf.  It is good looking.

There it sat, until I saw a post at 52 Rolls about the Franka Solida Record.  Mine isn’t a Record, but it looks similar.  With my interest peaked, I started Googling again and found out that the “Ventura 66 Deluxe” is a variant of the Agfa Isolette II. A closer look at the worn leather reveals that the ‘e’ might in fact be an ‘a.’

The Agfa Isolette II/Ventura 66 Deluxe is a 6×6 folding camera for 120 film made in West Germany (“U.S. Zone”) between 1952 and 1955.  Mine features the more common 3-element Apotar 85mm f4.5 lens in a Prontor-S 1/300 shutter.  The camera has an interlock between the film advance and the shutter mechanism to make accidental double exposures difficult. Intentional ones are still possible by manipulating the mechanism.

It seems there is a community devoted to restoring folders of this ilk.  I did some reading, and then I took pliers to it.  Stay tuned. . .

REFERENCES:

Camera Wiki

An old but informative page by Andrew Yue

Of course Mike Butkus has the manual

eBay prices seem a bit high for both, but they may worth it if they’ve been properly serviced. I wouldn’t pay that much for one in the condition of mine.

 

One comment

  1. August Kelm

    I inherited an Agfa Ventura 66 from my late Great Uncle. The focus ring on that too was seized (mine was jammed in the “10 ft” position. Could have used it as is, but I wanted more range).

    About a year ago I got up enough courage to do the repair myself and here’s what I did:

    1.) If you don’t have a set, purchase a set of precision screw drivers (I bought a set of Craftsman ones from my local Sears). Using the smallest flat head screw driver, loosen up the three retaining screws on the focus ring. DO NOT REMOVE THEM ENTIRELY!! (unless you like hunting for tiny, tiny things. Then…by all means.)

    Not only are they tiny, if I recall, they’re also aluminum with is notorious for cross threading if installed wrong.

    Since the focus ring is pretty much glued into place thanks to the degrading of the grease, grab a hair dryer and set it to full blast at the hottest setting possible and aim it right at the focus ring. Do this for a minute or two. Mine then became loose enough to be removed by hand (hot, but loose). If not, you will have to resort to the next step.

    Pad an appropriate sized pliers with a few layers of electrical tape.

    Now this is the tricky part.

    With enough pressure to grip the ring, but not enough to deform it, begin turning the ring to the left and loosen it up until you remove it entirely or until it becomes easy enough to remove by hand (which is preferred).

    2.) It’s been a while but I know the focus ring comes off and maybe one of the front element glass pieces. Make note of how they came off because it will be important to put them back on the same way. Submerge all of these pieces in Rosinal lighter fluid (this stuff is a great old camera de-greaser). Give it a few days soak, occasionally cleaning the focus ring threads with a cotton swab. Change the fluid if you need too as well.

    3.) I went for a non-traditional repair grease, one that won’t run the risk of turning into glue like the original. I bought some high-temp synthetic brake grease (usually can be bought in small tubes or one-time use tear-open packages) from a local auto parts store and applied it to the lens threading.

    Carefully, I returned everything to it’s place.

    4.) Now, you have a working focus ring but the focus will more than likely be off. If you have a ground glass, great, if not, check your kitchen. Baking parchment paper or wax paper, cut to the right size, is a great poor mans ground glass.

    Pop open the back and tape the wax paper over where the film would be. Next, switch the camera into bulb mode (B on the shutter speed dial). If you have a shutter release cable, great. This will help a lot!

    Using a yard stick, put an object three feet away from the lens. Make sure the subject is well lit, as this will aid in nailing the focus right away.

    Now, using a black (or dark colored) t-shirt or sweater as a viewing cloth (or if you actually have a viewing cloth, then use that), isolate the back of the camera from any ambient light and begin the wonderful process of trial and error focus finding.

    Once you think you nailed your focus. Tighten the screws hand tight (no need to over tighten) and run a test roll through (if possible at wide-open).

    Hope this helps you out. I’d also check the bellows for pinholes (mine had a bunch). There are a few people who make custom bellows for these, but that’s a repair that’s a bit beyond me at the moment.

    A quick fix would be to pick up some liquid electrical tape (I had to Google this stuff the first time I heard it. Thought it was some joke thing like “muffler bearings” or “blinker fluid”) and paint it over the areas where you spotted the pinholes (or just do the whole thing for good measure like I did).

    Hope this helps out if you still have this camera. Despite the $6 price tag, these are some pretty awesome cameras and there’s reason why they still have a higher price tag typically.