The ROC … umm, Rochester Optical Folding Premier

I am going to deviate from my pattern of introducing a camera and then posting the servicing information … the next camera that I am going to talk about does not have any documented servicing as I have decided not to. The reason … it is a big restoration and requires a lot of thought since the camera is really more a collector’s item than a working camera.

So here is the schpeel …

Before Eastman Kodak (yes, photography did exist before roll film was invented), there was the Rochester Optical Company … hmm, now that I have have re-read this sentence I realize that many of todays generation of photographers may not know who/what Kodak is.

In 1880, William H. Walker opened a photographic camera manufacturing company in … Rochester NY. Now there is some interesting historical significance with this man, he made the a very easy to use dry-plate camera for the average person to use (it even included it’s own tripod). This was also the first camera with interchangeable parts (makes production of cameras easier)

In 1883, a Mr. Carlton bought the company and used the name of Rochester Optical Company (Mr. Walker went on to join Eastman Kodak and co-created roll film technology and a roll film holder for plate cameras).

There appears to have been some odd history with ROC during this period … sibling rivalry, multiple companies amalgamating, and market share loss to Kodak … eventually leading to a takeover (well it was probably just a purchase of an almost bankrupt company) by Eastman Kodak in 1903. Rochester Optical Company (R.O.C.) was one of the most dominant camera companies in North America prior to Kodak appearing on the market. A large number of cameras were produced, with the Premo being their most known name brand.

There is one camera that I will talk about … and that is the Folding Premier camera.

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First made in 1892, it’s a box style self-casing camera. This is a version of the Premier camera but with a fold out front bed. Four versions were made up to 1895.

The model I have may be the first version based on the descriptions that I could find. It used 5×7 dry plates (was available in a 4×5 version), but also could support celluloid plates (cut film) and even a roll film holder was available.

It has the unique mechanism in the lensboard that spring loaded the shutter release … you wind a spring and it could fire the shutter six times and it was also had interchangeable lens as the shutter was not in the lens. In 1893 they changed the camera shutter so the rapid fire shutter is no longer available.

This ROC was “rescued” from a collection of cameras being sold off. Silvano (of Silvano Colour Lab, closed in 2009) was in the photography business since 1955, and he collected many cameras over that time. When the business finally closed they family sold off everything (including lab equipment). I had a personal connection with this lab (people that worked there, including the owners) so I went to the liquidation sale. Sadly I missed out on a couple of great Alpa reflex cameras as I casually decided to go there later in the day (I was expecting the prime cameras to be taken within minutes of the sale as they posted the cameras for sale days before they opened the liquidation) … when I got there it was mostly the “unwanted” that was left.

One of these unwanted cameras was a big “dirty” brown box sitting on the counter with a bunch of Kodak folders. I figured this was the ROC  they advertised, but I thought that it would have been bought by now. Having purchased the little items that I wanted to get, we (my wife and I) decided that the ROC had to go to a good home and not swallowed up by one of the “Lomo” scavengers that were picking up anything that looked really “vintage” … some of them were even trying to bargain the price down on $15.00 Kodak folders … lucky for us that Lomo photographers aren’t heavy into large format.

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Ok, back to the camera … the Folding Premier was in poor shape, and I guessed that Silvano tried to restore it at one time but probably got distracted by other projects. The black leather covering has been affected by red rot so it is flaking off in many places, piece of wood on the front/top is broken off, the leather handle is missing, wood cover is also separating, and the ground screen is missing (a large ground glass sheet was in the back of the camera, probably to eventually be shaped down to size).

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The shutter is in perfect working condition. The spring still can fire six times (I think because the extended 4×5 model held 6 plate holders in the back, though that model never had this shutter).

The knob on the front loads up the spring, and the shutter release is the button on top.

It has the standard R.O. Co. single view #2 – 10” lens with rotating diaphragm (that moves freely), and the glass is almost perfect.

Unlike the leather body covering, the bellows look in good shape, and it came with two original wood plate holders.SONY DSC

So … what to do with it ? It is a very scarce camera, and 128 years old.

I was thinking of just keeping it in its present form, it’s magic is its age … though I keep thinking of stablizing the leather with Klucel G.

I’m seeing double …

One of the common things that needs correction with rangefinder cameras is the alignment of the image.

Most of the coupled ranged finder cameras that I have had user accessible adjustment screws or ports. It appears that these tend to be fairly similar in how the adjustments are made (as you will see below when I become repetitive).

Tools: screw drivers, pointy tweezers, and flexi-clamp.

Most of the adjustment screws require a very thin slotted screwdriver.

 

Attach a lens.

Set lens to infinity.

Locate a subject that is very very far away.

Make the adjustments. Most of the instructions that I have read usually state to adjust the horizontal first, then the vertical.

Then, if you have one, attach another lens and check again.

 

Canon 7 (and I believe the 7s and 7sZ)

canon7 The screw left of the viewfinder port covers the horizontal alignment screw.

For the vertical adjustment, access it through the small port on the top beside the shutter release button. You will need pointy tweezers to turn it off via the two pin holes. Underneath is the adjustment screw.

Canon P

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The screw left of the viewfinder port covers the horizontal alignment screw.

Unscrewing the collar, using the flexiclamp, around the rangefinder port will reveal the notched ring that you turn for vertical alignment.

Canon IIF

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The screw beside the viewfinder port covers the horizontal alignment screw.

Unscrewing the collar around the rangefinder port will reveal the notched ring that you turn for vertical alignment.

Leica IIF

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Yup … you guessed it …

The screw right of the viewfinder port covers the horizontal alignment screw.

Unscrewing the collar around the rangefinder port on the left (the right one is the viewfinder) will reveal the notched ring that you turn for vertical alignment.

Minolta-35 model II ver.A and B … and probably other earlier models

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The screw beside the viewfinder port covers the horizontal alignment screw.

Unscrewing the collar around the rangefinder port will reveal the notched ring that you turn for vertical alignment.

Yeah, there is a common theme going on here … but you will encounter some cameras that will require removal of the top cover to access the adjustment screws.

A simple shutter.

The Kodak cameras I have talked about recently both have a Jr. counterpart. These Jr. versions used a much cheaper shutter to reduce the selling price. These are simple shutters, they tend to have two shutter speeds and bulb.

Now I keep mentioning Learn Camera Repair for good reason … understanding is, well as Sun Tsu says “If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” As you go along in the courses you will have the ability to work on this type shutter.

This is a Kodak Bimat lens with a Dakon shutter.

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Like you typical folder, the shutter/lens can be removed by taking off the retaining ring screw from back.

The Kodak Bimat is a three element lens. You can unscrew rear element and put it aside.

For the front focus element you have to remove the hex stop post … you might want to mark the position of the front to align when you screw it back on.

DSC00797Unscrew front cell

The front plate is held by two screws … then it pull off.

 

 

 

Unscrew middle element.

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This plate is held by four screws … note that some are covered by levers. Before removing this, close down the aperture.

The shutter release lever is in a slot, so you will need to slide-tilt-pull the plate to get it out.

 

DSC00799Note that there are no escapements as this is a simple shutter with two speeds, B, and T … that are all controlled by a couple of levers.

The large metal retard weight on the bottom is used to smoothen out the movement of the leaf lever as it opens/closes the shutter.

The torsion spring on the right is the main spring.

DSC00800 Ok, here is a visual example of a shutter that has been flushed … yes it can, temporarily, free up gummed blades but as you can see it leaves all the crap sitting around ready to resettle on the blades again.

The aperture sits on top of the shutter blades … which is the first time I have seen this, as typically the shutter is on top.

Pull off aperture control arm … leafs are somewhat attached due to the burst hole that is punched in the diaphram blades to use as a pin. Be very careful not to pull the blades off this ring, as it will damage the metal. If you look carefully at this image you will see that the aperture hole is out of shape … which means one of the blades is not sitting properly. After I took off this ring I could see that the burst hole on one blade was squashed, so it no long fit into the hole properly. I had to peel back the metal around the burst hole (without breaking the metal) and then fit it back into the ring hole.

Just put the whole thing in an ultrasonic to clean it, so you don’t have to put pressure on the blades.

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Pull out speed setting lever

(note, in this image I had cleaned up everything and put it back together)

Open shutter blades by pushing leaf post to right.

Now you can lift this out through the back with something tapered.

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The blade operating ring has three studs … longest one is also the leaf post, and is on the bottom (which engages the leaf lever).

 

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This plate three large dimples that are used to create a space between the back cover … note when putting it back together the big slot is at 10 oclock

 

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So … diaphram control ring … then aperture blades … then the cover plate dimples down  (not shown).

 

vigilant : alertly watchful especially to avoid danger

Well, there is not need for alarm … it’s just a Kodak Vigilant Six-20 and it’s junior counterpart … Batman and Robin ?

They are just another line of folders that Kodak put out back in the 40’s, so I won’t say much about them … they resemble many of the others that Kodak pumped out during that time … these are older versions of the Tourists that I previously posted about.

The Vigilant was made with various shutters and lenses … typical of many folders, and also formats (616 and 620). The one I have are Six- 20 and has a Kodak Anastigmat 105mm f/4.5 with a No. 1 Kodamatic shutter.

The Vigilant Jr. was made with a fixed focus Kodet lens with a Dakon shutter or a 3 element (guesstamit) Bimat lens and Dakon shutter.

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Konishiroku … numero uno.

Konica … it still exists today, better known as a copier company merged with the iconic company named Minolta … but both companies have old origins … most people do not realize that Konica is one of the oldest camera companies ever! The History of Konica Minolta

Konica originated in 1873 by Rokuemon Suguira, and his son Rokusaburo. Rokuemon was a pharmacist with a drugstore in Tokyo, and Rokusaburo initiated the start of  the store into selling imported photographic materials. His is considered the very first camera company in Japan.

They opened a second shop and company name became Konishi Honten in 1878.

1882 they started producing photographic supplies and subcontracted camera manufacturing … note, in 1888 the Eastman Kodak Co. was founded in USA.

1902 founded manufacturing branch Rokuoh-sha.

1903 first photosensitive paper manufacturer in Japan

1903 Cherry Portable Camera, a simple box camera becomes Japans first brand name camera.

1907 Sakura Reflex Pano, the first Japanese SLR.

The company name changed to G.K. Konishiroku Honten in 1921.

1923 opened the first professional school of photography in Japan.

1925 Pearlette medium format folder, becomes the Japans first mass produced camera.

1929 started producing Sakura brand B&W film.

1931 first commercially available lens in Japan … Hexar, based on Carl Zeiss Tessar design. which later on became the Hexanon in 1959.

1936 another name change to K.K. Konishiroku

1940 first Japanese colour film

1943 … yes another name change … Konishiroku Shashin Kōgyō K.K.

1948 they make The Konica, which is their first 135mm format rangefinder camera.

1960 Konica F, worlds first SLR to hit 1/2000s shutter speed by creating the worlds first metal bladed shutter … it was also the first SLR to have a built in light meter.

1965 Autoreflex, first focal plane shutter 35mm SLR to feature an auto exposure system.

1968 Autoreflex T, first with auto exposure and TTL metering.

1972 … company became K.K. Yamanashi Konica

1975 C35 EF, world’s first compact 35mm camera to feature a built-in flash.

1977’s C35 AF, which was the wolds first mass produced autofocus 35mm compact camera.

1978 FS-1 … worlds first 35mm SLR to have a built-in motor drive.

1983 name change K.K. Konica Denshi

1987, finally to Konica … company name to Konica Corp. in 1987

Merged with Minolta 2003 … stopped camera production in 2006

 

Note: last 35mm film camera they made was the awesome Konica Hexar RF … for those not familiar, it has a Leica M-mount !!

Oh, I forgot … they made an AiBorg! One of the most difficult camera’s I ever had to sell. Just look Google it and you will know why.

The adventures of this guy who tries to restore and repair vintage photographic equipment … and wins (most of the time).

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