For lending me the camera — Thanks Dave!
Amazing collection of Kodak catalogs at Kodakcollector.com.
A clarification: The camera could be as late as 1934. The catalog years overlap — 1932-33, 1933-34, 1934-35. The 34-35 catalog is the first one to show the “Action Front” push button bed release. The 32-33 catalog is the only one that explicitly states the camera is available in black or brown but I don’t know if later model years had the color choice. If it is from 33-34, the doublet was the low-end lens with an f/6.3 or f/4.5 anastigmat as an upgrade and a Diodak shutter option which added 1/10 second to the speeds of the Kodon.
The scalloping at the top of the next image is from re-spooling the film. I didn’t have it perfectly parallel to the 620 spool rim so the film & paper came off at an angle and wrinkled.
Taken with the tape and poster board seals. Still leaked.
That’s it for posted images taken with this camera. About the kludges follows.
Getting the cardboard between the bellows and the folding front was a challenge. Good view of the aperture setting: U.S. 8=f/11, 16=f/16, 32=f/22, 64=f/32.
The back is 6 X 9cm and the front is sized to let the Instax frame slide in.
I still got light leaks between the top and body. I tried yet more tape before giving up and shrouding the whole thing with my dark bag.
I don’t have a proper darkroom so here’s the process. I taped up the Instax film box to use as a transfer station.
- Put the film in the box.
- The box and camera go into the dark bag. Remove the film, remove one frame from the cartridge, insert it in the holder in the camera, and put the cartridge back in the box.
- Meter, carefully take the camera out of the bag, and shroud everything but the lens and shutter trigger.
- Take the shot and put the camera back in the bag.
- Take the frame out of the holder, slide it back in the Instax cartridge, and put the cartridge in the light-tight box.
- Put the Instax camera in the bag, load the cartridge, take it out, cover the lens, and shoot it to run the print through the Instax rollers.
I got turned around a couple of times and loaded the Instax frame with the image side towards the lens. I burned through most of a box of 10 prints to get two OK images but it was still a lot cheaper and faster than using negative film (re-spool, reload, process) for each iteration.
I did a bit of editing on most of the images. It’s from the film (age=grain and loss of speed) and scanner noise.
Fuji ISO 200 film of unknown vintage. Some grain in low light but not bad for being in someone’s garage. Processed and scanned by The Camera Shop of Santa Fe.
* With the old Achiever 115A flash, ISO 200 should be at f/22 at 3 feet but the Rokkor-X PF 50mm f/1.7 only stops down to f/16. Exposure compensation wouldn’t help since the exposure is based on the flash duration and the only correction the camera could do would be to double the shutter speed at -1 exposure compensation (to adjust the exposure down to ISO 100 which is on the flash table at f/16 and 3 feet). A -1 stop ND filter would work but I didn’t have one handy. I got lucky with the film’s exposure latitude (or it’s slower because it’s old) and it’s not overexposed.
I’m still trying to find my Photoshop Elements disk. It’s in a box somewhere. In the meantime, I’ve been using GIMP. The workflow is really different but it’s growing on me.
I have a few shots from disassembling the camera to clean it. I’ll combine those with photos of the 2nd tear-down to fix the shutter and post here. Hopefully followed by another roll of images.
Not much for images — the shutter still sticks. A couple of images and the disassembly/attempted repair experiment.
Information is pretty sparse for this film. I found a datasheet for “Recordak Micro-File Film Types 5455 & 7455” that seems to be the stuff.
Not knowing how to properly read a film datasheet yet, I searched around and found some info on Type 5069 and started there. If it’s similar, this film was originally rated for ~ ISO 25 (or less — specs for microfilm film are strange). Bracketing my first 24 exposure roll, this stuff is about ISO 6.
I used Kodak HC110 developer dilution ‘B’ at 68F for 6 minutes, agitating the 1st 30 seconds and then 5 seconds every 30 after that. Definitely too much agitation for this film. I got nasty over-development marks at the sprocket holes. Next time I’ll try a much weaker dilution, less agitation, and longer time. I’ve also read that highly dilute Rodinal works well and Photographer’s Formulary makes TD-3 for techpan films. I still have about 97 feet so it will be fun to experiment.
I used Canon Scan Gear for the first two and VueScan for the last one.
Once I learn what I’m doing with this film, I think it will turn out some great exposures.
Emboldened by having two ‘D’ cartridges, I decided to dissect one to see what’s what.
Somewhere, I saw a complete Rapid tab letter to film speed chart but I can’t find it (I hate it when I do that). The charts I can find skip ‘D’.
One camera had CT18 film in it and had a supply side cartridge ‘D’.
This photo shows CT18 as being ISO 50.
The chart I found (A=25, B=25, E = 64, G=100, H=125, J=200, N=400) puts ‘D’ between ISO 25 and 64.
From this, I can be reasonably confident that a ‘D’ tab is ISO 50.
Edit: Found a more complete chart: A=25, B=32, C=40, D=50 E=64, G=100, H=125, J=200, N=400
I used to think the copper fangs helped hold the cartridge together. Once I really started looking at it, I decided they would interfere with the film if that were the case. Maybe they hold the felt in place?
It took me a while of pretty close examination to figure out that the ends are crimped on over a lip on the body of the cartridge.
The film is guided by (goes inside) the springy bits and around the outside of the plastic spool. No wonder it was so hard to push in a 24 exposure roll of film.
The system seems really complex but Rapid film was designed to drop in and wind without having to insert the film leader into the take-up cartridge. The spool/springy bits system would allow the film to exit flat across the feed sprockets and roll up inside the take-up cartridge without binding.
I think I can make a workable cartridge out of plastic.
For Rapid cameras that produce 24mm X 24mm images, this film is 16 exposures. The overall length is 23 7/8″ or ~ 60cm.
That’s it for now for my mini-adventure with Rapid film.
One specification missing from the manual and most of the web is the focal length of the lens. I haven’t independently verified it but this Lomography article says it is 42.5mm.
The T-shirt is a design by my brother Mike. He did it when Catherine Coulson, best known as the log lady from Twin Peaks, died in 2015.
Since I found the second camera and have 4 Rapid cartridges, I can afford to dissect one and see if it’s practical to duplicate them.
I’m using new scanning software, Vuescan. So far, I love it. Its batch processing is kind of weak. You have to be able to give it the frame spacing beforehand and I scan too much weird stuff. Also, including spacing around the negatives throws off the exposure (see images below for the way around it). Still, it’s much better for just about everything than Canon’s software.
Telling the software that negatives are slides removes the correction for the color of the emulsion. It’s pretty easy to do it right but this was fun, learn the software time. The right way: Set it for color negatives (most B&W emulsion is pretty clear), set the crop area to the image, lock the exposure, expand the crop area to include the sprocket holes, and hit the scan button.
Update 12 July 2017: This camera found a new home on my ETSY store.
New light seals since the review. They were pretty easy to do. Felt at the hinge and thin foam strips press-fitted into the grooves.