Category Archives: Cameras

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.


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.


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).


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


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


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


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


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.

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.





Leica IIIC … P … O.

Ok, so another Leica Barnack camera … I am not a collector, nor a user of these cameras … but they do feel cool in the hand … anyway … sometimes I stumble upon these cameras for a cheap price (probably because they are being sold as parts/repair) and I get to pick one up.

This is a story about my latest … the Leica IIIC … LOOHW !!

Now, like most Leica Barnacks (and other clones) it is not that easy to tell what you got … like a box of chocolates … until you closely examine them, and also get the serial number. Since I bought this as a parts camera it could easily be a number of different Leica parts put together in one sale … well maybe not.

Back to the story … the IIIC was produced between 1940 to 1951. Leica made physical improvements on this model by making the internal body as a single piece die cast part, single piece top plate, and improvements to internal mechanisms.

Ok, go look on the Web … you will find lots of docs and discussion about anything Leica.

This camera that I have in hand started as a bit of a mystery because of the paint colour … the only image that was presented showed that it has a black top and bottom plate.

During WWII many Leica devices were made for the military but there was also a shortage of materials, and they tried to reduce usage of them  … so there were Leica IIIC’s that were painted grey/black over the top and bottom brass plates due to lack of chromium, or the use of nickel plating on the knobs. Many of the cameras made for the military were painted grey (and typically are engraved).

The serial number indicates that it is a post-war model, so it is not one of those. There were some black paint models that were make for people within the company that are labeled Leitz-Eigentum (Leitz Property). There were also some special order cameras that were custom ordered black.

Once I had it in hand, I realized it is not any of the above.

Mine (sadly) is as a repaint … definitely not done by Leica. It does appear that whoever did it was knowledgeable enough to remove the chrome, and then apply the paint (which probably was baked).

Remember in Star Wars – Empire Strikes Back, when Chewie was left with a bunch of C-3PO parts that he had to put back together … well that’s what I recieved. I purchased the camera knowing the major parts were disassembled (and some small parts missing) … the below image shows it loosely fitted together.

The restoration of this one will have to wait until I get the missing parts, and replace the shutter curtains.


Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.

Tōsei Kōki Y.K. … also known as Tosei Optical Instruments. They started out in Tokyo Japan in the early 1950’s, and appeared to ended only four years later. Not a lot of info … anyway … they made mostly folders that did not deviate much in design, though the last camera they did make was a TLR … and they made their own shutters (TKS).

The Frank Six seems to have been their primary camera … they made many variants of it, I think they made five sixes. The Six is a medium format folding camera.

The camera I have is the model I version made in 1952 (stamped on back) … that was a dual format 6×6/4.5×6, sadly my camera is missing the internal mask.

Tosei TKS shutter … 80mm f/3.5 Seriter Anastigmat lens