Fun and Games

As I noted yesterday, we’re currently enjoying an indian summer here in the UK. While I find myself at something of a loose end, I dug out the box of old plate cameras Best Beloved had acquired some 20 years ago.

The original intention was to use them for model photography. The cameras came with various back plates, mainly intended for quarter plate film, I think, but with adaptor units so you could run a 120 film through them. I do have the results of the tests done years ago, but sadly one of the films was damaged by light leakage during the developing process.

This is proper old skool photography. And I’m going to run the 120 films that have been cluttering up our fridge since the 1990s through the machines today.


First up is a Zeiss Ikon Trona 210/5 from the early 1930s. The rangefinder sight has lost its mirror, so I will be aiming blind. As it’s a sunny day, I am hoping to not worry too much about focus as the aperture will probably be quite tiny. The Zeiss is the only camera actually designed to take the film size, though the final image will be one-and-a-half frames of the normal square 120 format. This may mean there will be overlapped exposures where I haven’t wound the film on far enough. All part of the fun.


Next we have a beast of a camera, which is a Soho reflex. From what I can find out it was made some time between 1910 and 1930. It’s a half-plate box camera, but has been modified to take a 120 film back. Again, winding on the film to avoid double-exposures will be very much hit and miss. Out of a 12-frame 120 film, I will probably get three or four exposures, if I am lucky.


The Soho, at least, I can focus using the mirror to reflect what the lens sees up to the glass screen, but sadly the shutter mechanism does not function properly. This means I will be attempting to make exposures by covering and uncovering the lens, rather in the manner of the Victorian pioneers. Which will, if nothing else, be a hoot. I also have problems because it doesn’t have the original lens, and the one it is fitted with is so worn you can’t quite make out the ƒ-stops. Trial and error—what fun!

The next issue I must face is whether I can find a good local photo lab that can process the exposed film. I don’t really want to post it off anywhere, because I am impatient. Any pointers to labs in Kent I may be able to use will be gratefully received.

(I know I could process the stuff myself. While I’d love to, it’s rather too much faff at the moment.)