Help with the use of an old camera

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by celine_bras, Nov 8, 2020.

  1. 9E15FD2C-80E6-4DBA-A464-2AFABA88420F.jpeg 85AD1DB2-F578-4260-994D-D17C90CA478B.jpeg 0DB115B9-D304-4487-B40A-CC607049BAAC.jpeg Hi everyone,

    I’ve been gifted for my birthday a vintage camera which is apparently in a working order. According to the information I could gather, this is a Rodenstock Adina with a Compur Lens and would date from the 30s. I have also been gifted rollfilms which should fit the camera. The thing is, I don’t really know how to operate it (place the film, take photos...)
    I would be willing to learn, I was thinking of a 1h online Zoom lesson or something of the like (for which I would of course pay, like for any lesson).

    Would someone be knowledgeable in that type of cameras and interested in helping me?

    Thanks in advance!
  2. I'd ask the "gifter"
    If they knew what the camera is, and knew enough to get special 127 roll film they will know more than most of us here.

    Or ask whoever advised them.

    I can't find anything that seems to be your camera in the great Kadlubeks Kamera-Katalog of 2004.

    If you are familiar with film, exposure, and such-like on more modern cameras you probably can puzzle out by analogy how to use it.

    ISO 400 may require much overexposure to "fit" the range of shutter speeds on this one.
    here are more modern recommended exposures which- you will note-call for faster shutter speeds than you have:


    Happy Birthday, by the way:)
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2020
  3. Hello everyone. I just did a quick search of Google for "Rodenstock Adina 127 camera" and a ton of pictures & text is available. Spend some time with all of it before attempting any thing "outrageous ! I would also search for a source of 127 film. Presently it is selling at 3x that of 120 film. Enjoy. Bill
  4. The Compur name refers to the shutter, not the lens.

    I wonder if you showed any interest in using a film camera before this gift was inflicted on you?

    A 1 hr Zoom lesson is hardly going to scratch the surface of using a film camera.

    How much, for example, do you know about exposure? Do you own an exposure meter, or would be confident using an exposure meter phone app?

    Can you guess distances for focussing?

    Do you have the inclination to mess about with chemicals and develop the film yourself? Because there aren't that many processors geared up to handle 127 B&W film.

    And what do you do with the negatives? You'll need to get them scanned to digital files in order to post the pictures on line.

    Basically, a whole can of worms has been gifted to you to open up.

    P.S. Has the camera been tested?
    It's quite common for shutters to jam and bellows to leak light on cameras of that age.

    In short: You've not been given an ideal introduction to film photography.
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2020
  5. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    Notwithstanding some comments, using a film camera is not particularly difficult. Average folks have taken film snapshots for decades it and still do it Depending on where you live, logistics, obtaining film and getting it processed may be a challenge. It also may prove expensive. First choice would be for the giver to quickly take you through the process of camera loading and operation. Failing that, to take it in to a camera shop if there is one near. Any old timer employee will be able to give it a quick check and show you how to load it. Pocket exposure guides can be purchased cheaply on line, as can basic light meters if you want to take it further. I would think of this as an opportunity for an excellent adventure back in time. Well worth a trip or two!
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2020
  6. Are we sure the camera takes 127 film? Given the size of a compur shutter in relation to the body, the camera looks much larger than that normally required for the 4x6 cm format of 127.

    Are there any other distinguishing markings on the body of the camera, possibly on the bed or in the film chamber?
    William Michael likes this.
  7. m42dave

    m42dave Dave E.

    My McKeown's guide states that "[Rodenstock] never made cameras, but sold mainly Welta cameras with Rodenstock lenses under their own names."

    It does not mention the Adina, but does have an illustration of a similar-looking Astra, a 6.5x9 folder.
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2020
  8. Actually the first step is to learn how to use the camera without film in it. Learn how to focus, to set exposure, and to see if he shutter works properly. Once you load it with film there is little chance for you to learn how to do all those things.
  9. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Good question.

    If the camera is an 'Adina', which it looks like (a tell being the two thumb screws to lock the bellows on the rack); then, according to my library, it takes 120 Roll Film, and makes negs. in 6x9 Format.

    Last edited: Nov 9, 2020
  10. I had out yesterday a Certo Dolly which has the same shutter, though different lens.
    It uses 127 film. The Dolly is supposed to have a mask for a 4.5x3cm frame,
    and 16 shots on 127 film. Also, two red holes. But mine has no mask and tape
    over one of the holes. The viewfinder is designed to work for both, though blocks
    a large part of the view doing that.

    One page I looked at for the Adina says 127 or 129.

    There is an Adina box camera from 1953 that uses 120 film.
    There isn't much of a scale in the shots above, though for a usual
    sized hand it looks right for 127.

    It won't take long to figure out when you open the back.
    Hopefully it has a take-up spool ready.

    As for ISO 400 film, that lens goes down to f/32.

    There was a post recently of someone with a roll of 127 film, and a 120 camera.
    William Michael likes this.
  11. Otherwise, for actual use, all the old back-loading folding cameras are about the same.
    (The front loading ones a little different.)

    For loading, you open the back (hopefully that is easy), move the previous spool from the
    supply end to the take-up end. (This will also show which spool it needs.) Put the new
    roll in the supply end. Break and remove the seal paper. Pull the end such that the
    paper goes across the film plane and the tab goes in the take-up spool. Close the back.

    Now you wind until the "1" appears in the window. There will be some other writing before
    then, usually with arrows right before the "1".

    You do need to know a little about exposure, but charts like above work well
    for most daylight outdoor shots. There are two levers on top of the shutter,
    one is the cocking lever, the other the shooting lever.
    (As with guns, cock first, then shoot.)

    Most of the Kodak folding cameras don't need to cock, but many
    other ones do.

    Many of these cameras have shutters that aren't as fast as they used to be,
    even if they were right 90 years ago. I recommend not using the 1/300, or if
    you do, assume it is slower than that.

    Set aperture and shutter speed, focus (guess the distance and set the lens),
    cock and shoot. Then wind to the next frame before you forget.

    The Adina might also have the mask for 16 shots/roll, and two red windows.
    (Show the back, and especially the inside, so we will know.)
  12. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    As you mentioned it won't take long to figure out what film size the camera takes, and indeed it might have a film mask for 127.

    Anyway, for the sake of this conversation: I did the same as you, and tried to work out a scale from the image supplied - my take was that I thought it looked pretty good for a 120/620 folding camera.

    I have relatively small hands for a bloke, from my collection, a Kodak Folding camera, 6x9 format, 620 roll film (same size as 120 Film):



    If the OP investigates the camera further, with the assistance of the responses supplied and then reports to us with more information that would be beneficial.

  13. TWO_1890.JPG

    This is the Certo Dolly which uses 127 film. (I have a roll of VP127 for it.)

    I tried to get one with my hand in it, but couldn't do it with the lens I was using.

    It has an f/3.5 lens instead of the f/4.5 of the OP.
  14. One small addition. Before opening the camera to load it with film, look at the red windows to check that the buyer wasn't so kind as to have already loaded a roll!

    Also, it looks like this is the type of folding camera where you have to slide the front standard into position yourself, as opposed to a 'self-errecting' design where it unfolds when you open the camera.

    Try squeezing the two chrome pins together under the lens and pulling. The front standard with lens and shutter should slide forward and click into place, extending the bellows. There may be several marked positions along the rails for focussing.
    za33photo likes this.
  15. Assuming you are already a photographer:

    As you've probably realised the camera is totally manual with no automatic features at all.
    The camera as shown is still partly closed up, the front standard (holding the lens) needs to be moved forward along the baseplate - there are often a couple of catches that need to be pinched to allow this.
    On folding cameras focus can sometimes be controlled by how far the lens is moved along the baseplate (I think the case here) or sometimes there's just a single outer position & focus is done via rotating the inner part of the lens (the ring directly outside the glass element). Usually in the second case there are distance markings on the lens which I can't see here, which is why I think it falls into my first class.
    There is a small lever (with triangular pointer) at the bottom edge of the lens that adjusts the aperture ranging from f/4.5 to f/32 in this case.
    The outer ring round the lens adjusts the shutter speed from 1/300s to 1s, along with B for while the shutter release is held down & T requiring one press to open the shutter & a second to close it again.
    The two levers visible on the left are the shutter release & a cocking lever. The shutter will need to be cocked before the release works.

    It looks as if your camera has two viewfinders, a prism for looking down & shooting from the waist, & a fold out sports viewer on the right of the image.
    I would recommend at least a half hour playing with the settings before loading the film.
  16. I was just trying out the shutter on the Dolly, which seems to be the same one.

    It is interesting, in that I finally figured out that you don't cock the shutter for B and T.

    My shutter works less well at slower speeds, usually many seconds,
    but I suspect I will use it only on sunny days.
  17. Indeed, but that was when film was cheap and easy to find. Also when there was at least one film processor in every small town; staffed with personnel that knew their stuff, and usually friendly enough to give free advice. Them days is long gone!

    Choosing to use a camera taking 620, 828 or 127 film these days, and relying on remote guidance, is just masochism of the sort that could put anyone off photography completely.
  18. 127 film was purchased here:


    Might be worth contacting FPP for help.
  19. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    Do not let the wet blanket types take the fun out of the experience! Some folks seem to thrive on making simple things complicated. If the camera is functional, you have or can get film and processing, nothing stands in your way. Use the exposure tables and go for it!
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2020
  20. Now what's the advantages for 620, 828 or 127 films vs 120 or 220?

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