Week Forty Seven, Double Trouble

September 29, 2017

Week 47! – Double trouble!

The Robot 2 iia

So Russell’s daughter Roma had gotten here GCSE results back and they were good! In fun we teased him that for passing her photography one he should give her a camera. Much banter later I ended up promising to shoot anything of his choice this week if he did – he did not disappoint and tried to make me suffer! Enter the little clockwork Robot. This will be short for reasons that will become clear! First I needed to do some research as it is a little different. This one is from around 1951 given that is when they started to accept standard 35mm cartridges, however it still needed a type N take up spool which was missing. I crafted one from a normal 35mm spool and it seemed workable. The 40mm Zeiss Tessar f2.8 lens looked like it had been cleaned with a Brillo pad but I have used worse! Basically there is a big knob on the top you wind up like a clockwork key which both powers the shutter that you can manually set from B to 1/500th and it auto advances what is, on this type 24mmx24mm frames. The lens houses an aperture ring, f2.8 to f16 and a guessing focus ring.

Film choice was easy as I had 3 part rolls of Ilford FP4+ left over from hand rolling sprockets. I loaded up the first one and set off on a walk. I actually found the little thing a lot of fun! My spot meter is somewhat bigger than it so I wish I had a better feel for sunny 16 rules as I think that would be perfect for it, sadly I am rubbish at this so I used basic metering. 16 frames later I knew I had passed the possible frame count and went home. Once in the changing bag I was gutted to find it hadn’t advanced at all, it had pulled the tape off the spool. I reloaded with lots of scotch tape. Round 2… A much shorter walk this time treating it as more of a test, again I enjoyed the way it worked. Its viewer is small but clear and it is nice in the hand, it is just a fun enjoyable camera. This time it stopped on 10, sure enough it had advanced! Sadly on developing it revealed lots of overlap. I have scanned these for you to see. On to roll 3 – well, this is a repeat of roll 1 as it did not advance again, this time I opted to manually add half a turn on the advance knob but in doing so I had torn the sprockets. I admitted defeat…for now!!!! Please read on…

Part 2! Rollei Magic – last minute stand in.

Several weeks ago I had willingly agreed in exchange for repairing my Kodak’s shutter to run a test roll through a repaired TLR Rollei Magic. Lyndon who services Russell’s cameras had bought and rebuilt the dropped Rollei and replaced the dead selenium meter cell, this is vital for its auto exposure system. Without it the camera is dead.  I chucked in a roll of HP5+ planning to run it at box speed with no filters then I would have a good idea on the meter performance without complicating with adjustments. I set off to shoot movement for a camera challenge, it jammed after the first 6x6 frame. I unloaded said film in the darkroom and promptly fumbled it onto the floor and scrambled around trying to find it! I rerolled it and set it aside. I waited 2 weeks to return it to Lyndon who fixed it easily and on the next 2 week cycle we gave it another go, I reloaded at his house with the same roll. I popped it into a changing bag and advanced 2 frames, I looked at the counter and it was on 2 of 16! We had left the 4 x 5.5 mask in! You get an option on this camera, I needed to use 6x6 as there was no 4x5.5 mask for the ground glass so I was just going to have to use my judgement. I will be honest I forgot several times and shot as 6x6, even when I remembered I got some slightly off. It was however, as an auto exposure system ideal to carry around along with the Robot. I found the focusing through the viewing glass as you would expect from a Rollei, impressive! Making it fun and quick to use. On developing the roll I was pretty impressed with its metering too, loads of shadow detail and never more the ½ a stop off. The Schneider lens was as I expected nice and sharp. There is a lot of dirt from my darkroom floor and I did damage a couple in the scramble but that is all on me! In hindsight I should have abandoned the Robot earlier and pushed the Magic further testing the aperture priority option.  Lyndon thinks he can sort the Robot so there is a chance it will return. I apologise for a quite scrappy week but it is what it is! I hope next week’s soviet incursion is a little less troublesome…but I doubt that.

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