Monday, December 16, 2013

We are so spoiled!

We were discussing cameras, as we often do, and Laurie mentioned a Bilora Radix that he bought in the 1970s. He didn't use it long, because the film had to be removed and replaced in a darkroom, and it got expensive.
 "... it uses the Agfa Rapid (or Karat) system, in which 35mm film is loaded into a spool free cassette, and advanced by direct driving of the sprockets into another cassette." (Link)

"I still have it, though," Laurie said. He's a hoarder.

He dug it out for me. It's a little camera, 4 1/2 inches long, about the size of my little Nikon Coolpix, but much heavier. German-made, and solid. It takes a special film, producing 24 x 24 mm photos in a roll of 36. Laurie's was made in 1949 or '50; it was well used when he bought it. He shot in black and white. Colour rolls were expensive and had to be developed in a special lab.

Front view.

The lens (5.6/38, or 40mm) had very little play; turning it extended it barely 1/4 of an inch. The little round dial at the top shows the aperture, but is almost impossible to read.

There is a slider just under the lens, but not visible in this photo. I can't figure out what it does. By the time Laurie got the camera, the manual was long gone.

Top view

The toothed lever at the top right operates the shutter. It was a little sticky, after some 40 years stuck away in a drawer, but loosened up quickly. It advances the film nicely; the number of photos taken shows in the window below. 10, here, after a few trial clicks.

At the far right, on the side is a plug-in for a remote shutter cable, probably just a flexible wire operating a plunger. On the left there is another plug-in, this one probably for a flash attachment. The company added a flash shoe to the 1951 model.

The toothed lever on the lens closes or opens plates to regulate the amount of light.

The aperture setting regulates the light, as well as changing the depth of field.

Back view.

That lever at the top right advances the film. It only works once after each shot taken.

The wheel in the centre is the locking mechanism for the film cover. I took it off, and discovered a film in it, which means that I ruined about 3 frames by letting in light. I closed the back and advanced the film three spaces. Maybe, possibly, if we're lucky, we might be able to get 23 photos out of this.

That's assuming, of course that the film hasn't completely deteriorated. But another camera collector got a decent photo with 30-year-old film, so there's hope.

But then again, there's the shutter and lens:

Lens and shutter plates, badly corroded.

The blades work, but they feel gritty. And the inner lens is dusty. No wonder! 63 years; even bagged, in a dresser drawer, entropy happens.

It worked nicely, back in the 1970s, though; here's a sample.


She's Laurie's dog, taken at Ryder Lake, in the hills above Chilliwack. The photo was dusty and faded to sepia, so I cleaned it and restored it to black and white. Otherwise, it is as taken.

I have never been so grateful for my modern cameras with all their automatic settings, the instant adjustments, the load capacity (hundreds of photos without a break!); and the ability to process them all myself, and without a darkroom!

We are so spoiled!

1 comment:

  1. that's pretty amazing that laurie still has the camera. pretty neat!


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