Franka Solida Record - A West German folding box camera

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by jdm_von_weinberg, Jul 18, 2014.

  1. First, thanks to Rick van Nooij who gave me this camera last year about this time, all the way from Nederland.

    I’ve admittedly been sulking in my tent for a while awaiting the "consequences", but the nice weather a couple of days ago (“record low highs”, as my neighbor put it), got me out into the woods with film as well as digital.

    Franka Kamerawerk 1909-1966
    Oberfranken. Germany

    Franka Solida Record

    Among various inexpensive cameras made by this company were the “folding box camera”/viewfinder cameras known as the Solida, although more expensive Solidas did have a rangefinder. When Rick van Nooij offered one of these, I took him up on it, having
    1) not shot a lot of this kind of camera
    2) been curious about how this “Bundeskamera” would compare to some roughly equivalent cameras from the DDR.

    Here is the camera itself, a close relative of the Solida I.

  2. Definitely a Wessie - "from the US Zone"
  3. a front view showing the 1/50 sec and Bulb (not working on this one), as well as the scale focusing, which was rather loose, as I found out, and prone to shifting off its setting if not watched closely.

  4. The inside of the camera has a pasted-in label that indicates its use in the low countries. Not shown is the red window for film advance.
  5. I actually used a roll of Fujicolor REALA ISO 100 film that had a “process before” date of 2009-10 because this was the lowest ISO 120 film that I had in the ‘fridge’, and given the one speed and range of stops (f/8-f/16) even that was going to be stretching the latitude of the film a bit. It was the last one I had left, alas.

    So how did it work?

    I was especially careful to hold the camera steady (using Swedish foreplay technique: ”brace yourself”) and most of the pictures came out relatively ok in terms of camera movement. Unfortunately, the exposure (at f/16, 1/50) for the deeper shadows, not so well.

    Here is the first picture, with mixed shadow and sunlight of the “Stone Fort” bluff (mesa) - a Late Woodland (ca. 700 CE) blufftop enclosure. I had shaded the lens with my hand. but not quite enough, as it turned out. I think this is flare, however, although some later images show some light leaks, too.

  6. The next bunch of images moving into the trail to the stone fort, didn’t work out too well, as noted. Should have used f/8, I now figure out, but I was using this as a box camera, and taking snapshots....
  7. When the light was right, pretty OK, however
  8. Here is the eponymous stone fort —
  9. It was a swell day to get out, so no regrets.

  10. Another nice outcome in the category of unforeseen consequences--A friend to whom I was showing the Solida, said “this ought to work on it” and gave me a nice, contemporary West German EMO AG-1 flash gun!
    Now all I need is a 15v Eveready 509 battery and some AG-1 flash bulbs! Perhaps the Solida will yet ride again!
  11. Thanks again to Rick for making this excursion possible. Sorry it took so long to get to it.
    There are also a number of other posts on this camera and its relatives. Google™ the site for those.
    That's all, forks.
  12. Nice post, JDM. I don't think the Franka folders were ever considered the epitome of the genre, but they were strong and simple and their images must have filled thousands of albums. The Record must have been just about the simplest model in the large Solida line-up, and you've produced some reasonable pictures from some challenging situations. At least things appear to be in focus; I posted some stuff on the slightly more complex Solida I a couple of years ago, all dreadfully soft, (, and it was only recently that I took the camera down and collimated the lens, resulting in a vast improvement in image quality. That flash gun is a nice touch; I've recently been developing an interest in antique flash gear, dammit... Thanks for an informative and interesting post.
  13. yours seems lik a decent camera.
    my third camera 1-leaky box 2-scratchy metal and 3- baby brownie special
    was a montgomery ward rolfix 8/16 exp.
    radionar 4.5 lens and a 1/259 shutter.
    the lens housing edge was thin plastic and the pc flach connector came off.
    the repair that cost as much as the camera was not dependable.
    the 3 el;ement lens was ok. but flash was a problem. the frame vf and the small vf on the lens support left everything to be desired. even with young good eyes.
    i was less than satisfied. my seagull 203, given to me last year seems much better.
    the later eye level cameras in the 1960's were an improvement.
    now that i have a distant cousin of yours, i can again use 120 film.
    looking forward to it in fact.
  14. Obviously I didn't test it enough before shipping it to you. I would not have offered it if I had known the B setting wasn't working. Sorry about that.

    Still, the good pictures look good for a camera which such limited settings.
  15. Thanks for sharing, JDM. Looks like a tidy example of Franka Solida Record. Don't know if the 15 volt battery for the flash gun is still available. I read the warning in the instructions about leaving an unused bulb in holder with battery inserted. Not sure why unless this flashgun has a built in capacitor. IIRC, capacitors helped flash bulbs to fire even when battery was weak.
  16. Interesting results from the "folding box". The range of tones in the subject matter is probably something of an unfair test for the camera (and film) but I think its important to post results from classic cameras, whether they quite fulfill our expectations or not. Thanks for sharing.
  17. Followup: EMOLUX flash
    I found a 'replacement' 15v battery (Excell 504/220A) that might work, but at US$14.
    When you search for NEDA 220, a bunch of Eveready 504s pop up on Google, but all marked "The manufacturer stopped production of these". I put a meter to my copy but it looks to be inert.
    There seem to be a lot of AG-1 flashbulbs on eBay, however.
  18. Here's the battery that was in the EMOLUX flash:

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