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Thread: Newbie needs help with very old camera - can't achieve focus....of anykind

  1. #1

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    Newbie needs help with very old camera - can't achieve focus....of anykind

    Hello Forum Members,

    Please excuse my intrusion if these questions could have been answered by reading prior threads, but I wasn't able to find anything especially relevant during my search. Thanks in advance for any advice, input, coaching, etc.

    My father gave me this old camera labeled 'Ansco No. 5 Model D' a while back. I assume it's a 4x5, and since I have some film and holders thought that I would give it a whirl. I have experience with my old Toyo 45 and currently own a Technika III, so am not completely ignorant about large format photography. Admittedly, I am not terribly experienced. Just not brand new. That said, I cannot for the life of me figure out how to focus this camera! I've spent an hour trying everything I can think of and can't get anything in focus. Can't find infinity, can't focus on something 20 feet away, can't.....get anything to pop. It shows that it's getting close to infinity when I pull everything back, but I would guess it's probably an inch away and already collapsed beyond what I would guess is recommended. Any ideas? I'm hoping someone has experience with these and impart some wisdom.

    A few photos are attached for your consideration. Thanks again for taking a look.

    Cheers!

    Stu
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails IMG_4251.jpg   IMG_4250.jpg   IMG_4255.jpg   IMG_4253.jpg  

  2. #2
    Jac@stafford.net's Avatar
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    Re: Newbie needs help with very old camera - can't achieve focus....of anykind

    You cannot find infinity because the camera has a bellows extension probably intended to make close-up copies of negatives or small prints placed in the attached holder in front of the lens.

  3. #3

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    Re: Newbie needs help with very old camera - can't achieve focus....of anykind

    I thought of that too, but the little articulating thing on the front is a mirror and is not able to cover the lens unless the bellows are complete stacked. Even then the mirror, when flipped, sits directly on the front element of the lens with no space. You might be right, but looking at the configuration of that flippable mirror makes me wonder how you would accomplish anything.

    Sincere thanks for offering some knowledge.

  4. #4

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    Re: Newbie needs help with very old camera - can't achieve focus....of anykind

    I agree with Jac; the camera appears to have been custom-modified for some sort of copy work. The camera may have been intended to sit vertically, with the mirror used for repro copy work of larger items mounted on a wall. I inherited several "atypical" cameras and other photo equipment from my dad, but it's been fun to poke around and try to figure out what various things are and do.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    http://historiccamera.com/cgi-bin/li...t&app_id=3065&

  5. #5

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    Re: Newbie needs help with very old camera - can't achieve focus....of anykind

    I will defer to you guys. Too bad, as I was hoping to take it out into the wild for a few shots. I'm still terribly vexed about why there would be the option of extending the bellows. If you move the front standard out on the center rail to extend the bellows even a 1/4 inch the mirror would be useless, even at a 45. And then if you employ the secondary extension option of pushing the plate that the rail is attached to it just gets absurd. So odd.

    I really, really do appreciate the input. Thanks, Gents.

  6. #6

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    Re: Newbie needs help with very old camera - can't achieve focus....of anykind

    If you want to know what an unmodified Ansco #5 looks like, go here: http://piercevaubel.com/cam/catalogs/1910anscolp389.htm

  7. #7

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    Re: Newbie needs help with very old camera - can't achieve focus....of anykind

    Thanks, Dan! Very helpful information. Do you think the 'model D' designation on my frankencamera is something unique? I see photos of the 'No. 5 Model C' in that literature, but no mention of the 'Model D' that is on the plate of the lens that I have.

    Cheers,

    Stu

  8. #8

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    Re: Newbie needs help with very old camera - can't achieve focus....of anykind

    Gus, look closely at post #4 above. EarlJam beat me to it. The link he posted will take you to a description of the Ansco #5 Model D.

    Model D has to be very version after Model C. I suspect slight modifications.

  9. #9

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    Re: Newbie needs help with very old camera - can't achieve focus....of anykind

    Quote Originally Posted by GusMatti View Post

    That said, I cannot for the life of me figure out how to focus this camera! I've spent an hour trying everything I can think of and can't get anything in focus. Can't find infinity, can't focus on something 20 feet away, can't.....get anything to pop. It shows that it's getting close to infinity when I pull everything back, but I would guess it's probably an inch away and already collapsed beyond what I would guess is recommended. Any ideas?

    Stu
    It would sure help if you told us the focal length of the lens in your camera. That itself could give you roughly the idea where the lens should be for infinity focus and if you can get there with its focusing device.

  10. #10

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    Re: Newbie needs help with very old camera - can't achieve focus....of anykind

    Thinking more about your camera, I'm now reasonably sure it's been modified for use on a copy stand. Consider it mounted vertically, lens down:

    - the circular openings appear to provide for a piece of pipe, say 1.5" diameter, to which lights would be mounted

    - the pivoting mirror is necessary to allow the operator to view the shutter and aperture controls, and to adjust them as necessary

    - once those are set, the mirror would be removed from the optical path, prior to exposure.

    Rather than infinity focus, I think if you determine the range of focus that the bellows actually allow, that would help you to determine the size of material the camera was intended to reproduce.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Click image for larger version. 

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