Tagged: folder

52 Cameras #88 – Seagull 203-i

IMG_0802.JPG  The Seagull 203-i is a Chinese folding rangefinder of indeterminate age.  I found mine on a recent trip through my local flea market on a sunny Sunday morning.  It features a 75mm/3.5 lens in a 1/300 shutter.  It is the most advanced folding camera I own, with a coupled rangefinder, a hot shoe, and a film advance lever in lieu of a knob.

I wasn’t aware of the 203-i; I didn’t feel I needed one; but once I saw it I had to add it to my collection.  A quick inspection revealed that the shutter fires and the bellows seems light tight.

The 203-i has one especially interesting feature.  A set of folding panels inside the body allow it to be set for 6×6 or 6×4.5 images on 120 film.  This must be done before loading and cannot be changed mid-roll.

My example cost $25.  It came with a ratty leather case.  The film door latch is loose, but it works if you are persistent.  The leatherette is peeling and needs to be redone. I’m looking forward to running a roll of FP4 through it soon.

Week 87 – Ansco Clipper


It’s eight degrees and there is over 2 feet of snow on my flat roof with more expected tonight.  I really should be out shoveling.  Instead I’m catching up with my blogs.

For this week’s roll, I chose the Ansco Clipper.

I don’t remember where or when I got my Clipper.  It’s a folding box camera manufactured from the 1930’s to the 1950’s.  Pre-WWII versions were marketed as Agfa-Ansco, so I know my version dates from 1945 or later.  It features a simple lens and shutter mounted on a telescoping lens board.  There are no adjustments; one aperture, one shutter speed.  It is designed to use 116 film which is no longer available, but 120 film can be adapted to fit using a simple styrofoam packing peanut.

In use, the red window is no longer an accurate measure of film advance. I guessed at proper spacing which resulted in gaps between the images on the film.  I guess this is better than overlapping them.  120 film is smaller than 116, so part of the image is cropped.  It just means you need to frame accordingly.

I enjoyed shooting my Clipper.  It is a very solid feeling camera which folds to easily fit in a coat pocket.  You can see the results over at 52 Rolls.




There are lots available on eBay right now and they are cheap.  Don’t be scared by 116 film, pick one up and shoot 120 with it!


Ventura 66 – week 59 results

After a pair of false starts, I was very happy with the final results from the Ventura 66.  The focus is still very stiff; I may need to disassemble it and clean further. The bellows seems to be light-tight after its Plasti-Dip treatment. The camera is missing its shutter button, but the lens can be easily triggered by pressing ‘just the right spot’  on the side of the mechanism with your right index finger.

In short the camera is still no mechanical gem, but it works.

I took it to the Millyard in Amesbury on a bright, sunny day. I brought along a #25 red filter to increase contrast and shot Ilford FP4 film. It was developed in Caffenol. These images are straight from the scanner with no adjustments.

I’d say I got my $6 worth.

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. . .


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.


Kodak Tourist – week 46 results

I find myself returning to the Tourist on a regular basis. Despite its fixed focus and limited settings, it is a joy to shoot. The shutter release is located on the side of the folding bed. When depressed, the mechanism can be seen through the viewfinder, removing any doubt as to whether the shutter has tripped. It’s just cool in a camera-geek-y kind of way..

The Tourist can be a bit fiddly to load, however. It requires 620 spools in both the feed and takeup positions; the tolerances are too tight to fudge a modified 120 spool in there. I’ve learned from past experience that with faster films it is vital to keep the cover over the red window closed when not winding to prevent light leaks. That did not seem to be an issue with 100ASA Ektar.

In my opnion, the results are worth the effort of dealing with the quirks. It creates beautiful 6x9cm negatives which are 6 1/4 times as large as a 35mm frame. With the large exposure latitude of modern film, it’s virtually a point and shoot camera.



Week 46 – Kodak Tourist

Introduced in 1951, the Tourist was the last of Kodak's folding models. It uses medium format 620 film to produce 8 big 6×9 cm exposures. Tourists were available with a number of different lens/shutter combinations; mine is a lower end model with a fixed-focus Kodet lens in a single speed shutter. Shutter modes include (I)nstant, (B)ulb, and (T)ime with apertures from f=12.5 to 32.

The Tourist line has a neat engineering feature. The back is held in place with a pair of latch/hinge units which enable it to be released from either side or removed completely.

I've loaded mine with a roll of respooled Ektar and carried it for most of the week.


Camera Wiki




Polaroid SX70 Model 2 – week 38 results


Shooting with the SX70 was fairly easy. The camera is held at an odd upward angle in order to keep the lens perpendicular to the ground. The split image focus was easy to work with, although it is located near the bottom of the viewfinder instead of in the center.

I soon discovered that even with the ND filter in place I had to set the exposure wheel two clicks toward darken in order to get proper exposures. Occasionally the mirror would lock up and the camera would refuse to fire, but another press of the shutter button would release it. About half of the time it would eject photos with enough violence to toss them completely out of the camera.

It won’t be an everyday shooter for me, but at 41 years old it’s entitled to a few quirks. I had fun with it.

201309_SX70_002 201309_SX70_003201309_SX70_001


Week 38 – Polaroid SX-70 Model 2

In 1972, Edwin Land and his Polaroid Corporation introduced a revolutionary camera. The SX70 was potentially the iPod of its time, a whole new way of doing things. A press of the button produced a color image with no photo lab, no timing, no cracking and peeling. The picture simply happened automatically.

It wasn't cheap, but ol' Ed made you think it was worth it. The camera was a masterpiece of industrial design, a futuristic leather and stainless steel folding wonder. When closed, it was not much larger than a paperback book. (There are reports that Mr. Land had his suits tailored with extra large breast pockets so he could whisk an SX70 from his jacket like a magician.)

The SX70 system would be the father of a series of folding cameras and lesser box cameras, many with auto focus and all with automatic exposure systems. Though its descendants would still be in production 40 years later, their immediacy would eventually be eclipsed by the digital camera.

My example is the less expensive Model 2. Introduced in 1974, this folding manual-focus SLR gave up its stainless steel in favor of white plastic and a slightly more bargain price. I bought it locally via Craigslist, and it still has its original leather case. This is a good thing, as early SX70s lacked both strap lugs and tripod sockets.

I've loaded it with Impossible PX680 Color Protection, and I've installed a neutral density filter on the pack to compensate for the faster modern film.


The Camera Wiki page is slightly outdated as regards current film alternatives, but it has a brief history and photos of the folding variants.

Mike Butkus has the manual, along with manuals for many different versions.

As of this writing, there are over 1400 of them available on eBay. If you are patient and smart, you can get a good example for short money.


Kodak Vigilant Six-20 Junior – week 31 addendum

After the original failure, I loaded a roll of FP4 and took the Vigilant to Deerfield Fair. The results were equally poor.

This was the only remotely salvageable image on the roll.

I don't really know what is going wrong. My best guess is that the bellows may not be light tight. The spaces between the images are not fogged, so it does not seem to be a general light leak in the body.

It looks good on the shelf, though.


Kodak Vigilant Six-20 Junior – week 31 results

The Six-20 is a relatively easy camera to shoot. The lens is fixed focus; there is only one effective shutter speed. The only variable is aperture. The tiny waist level finder is all but useless, however. The sport finder is slightly better but is still only vaguely accurate.

I find folders simply fun to use. I had difficulty remembering to rotate the finder prism before attempting to close the bed, but no harm was done.

Unfortunately something went drastically wrong. Most of my shots looked like this:


Only 2 of 8 were even remotely identifiable. The camera produced a lot of dust, and the film seems heavily fogged. I used a roll of Portra 160 respooled onto a 620 spool by a third party. I won't name or blame him as I've used his film before with no problems. I had guessed an effective shutter speed of 1/40-1/50s.

Today I gave the camera a good cleaning and timed the shutter with the Shutter Speed iPhone app. It turns out to be much closer to 1/20s. I hand-spooled a roll of FP4 myself, and I will try again tomorrow.

I'm not willing to call this one a failure yet, primarily because I can see no good reason for the poor results. We shall see. . .