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Well, You're a Sport - Time Travelling Compact: a 127 Format Foth Derby


This small 127 format bellows camera is a joy to use!

Also it's a gift from the gods. A fully mechanical camera still working after 80+ years. Not overwhelmingly surprising. We've experienced that before. But a cloth shutter being intact and in working condition is a humbling gift.

The cloth shutter - travelling horizontally back and forth in the film gate just in front of the film - is of the same principle as the ones in my Fed 2 rangefinder camera or my Canon FT SLR. This one has shutter times ranging from Bulb mode to 1/25th, 1/50, 1/75, 1/100, 1/200 and 1/500th of a second.

I did have to mend the shutter in a way. Not mechanically, but because there appeared to be "pinprick" holes in the cloth. Repeating a method I used recently on my Fed 3 shutter I filled in the holes with "vulk" which is a glue which turns to rubber normally used to mend bike tyres. I then filled the area with a felt-tip marker to add black pigment to the rubber. Using rubbery glue you make the shutter cloth stronger as well as keep it flexible because it is wound around a metal rod every time you use it.

The Derby compared with the size of the Minolta Hi-Matic C. The Derby bellows are collapsed, as is the lens of the C, which protrudes another bare centimeter when in action.

Another size comparison - both bellows cameras. The Derby next to my Polaroll, which is a converted Polaroid Land 210.

My first roll through the Foth is not much to write home about. (Rera Pan 400 developed in Rosemary Caffenol recipe.) All the bad stuff you see is due to the photographer's neglect. I do like the results, though, since they foreshadow what I can expect from future rolls. First lesson: Using the maximum aperture of f/3,5 it is difficult to nail focus. Once stepped up to f/4,5 or f/6,3 it's no problem. And once there - Second lesson: The lens has lovely out-of-focus rendering, giving the photos that vintage medium format look that I like so much.

Lesson three: The lens renders very strong contrast, which I like. This may of course be due to the developing method.

I will definitely return with more photos and writing on this camera in the near future.

Don't hesitate to comment here or at my Instagram. Visit the photography shop getOBphoto that I run at Etsy.


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