View Full Version : Curt Bentzin Klapp Reflex - Shutter problem

20-Jun-2010, 15:43
Hello everyone,
This is my first post on this forum. I'm a newbie in LF photography with around a year of "field" experience. Some time ago i bought my second LF camera. It is Curt Bentzin Klapp Reflex, german 9x12cm camera probalby from the 20's of XX century. Overall shape is more than very good but the camera has one failure - the external shutter mounted in back panel is not working. It is a problem, cause in its contruction this Klapp Primar is quite original. I'm really interested in solving this problem but unfortunately i was unable to find any good material about this model. All i found is just few websites, few adverts from old press and that's it.

I joined this forum with hope to find here someone who know this type of camera and maybe will know how the original shutter looked like. All ideas, photos will be a great help ... ;)

p.s. sorry for my english, i know it could be better ...

20-Jun-2010, 15:49
Camera seems to be in a very good shape. I bought it with a leather case with 3 cassettes (1 still loaded with 2 glass plates), Agfa filters. Zeiss Tessar also is in a mint condition. Only problem is this shutter - which probably is missing - i mean this cloth/fabric part of the mechanism. Photos of course can still be done, but without using the shutter - only with moving the cap in a front of lens. It would be a pitty to not to fix this problem, cause the original shutter allowed speeds up to ... 1/1000 s (!). Really amazing as for the camera from circa 1920.

Steven Tribe
21-Jun-2010, 01:53
Welcome to the non-existant Bentzin owners club. I have the simple wood tailboard 13x18. But I also have a early Mentor 13x18 SLR with focal plane shutter as well as the Goerz ango.

The general rule for this design is that you must get the camera working first with a lens with a shutter BEFORE you attempt to fiddle with the curtains and "clockwork" mechanism! Otherwise you will become very depressed! You have the problem that you have helical focussing - so getting a shutter into the objective is dificult! The Mentor has an ordinary bellows and moveable front standard.

Are you sure the curtains have gone? These could be just rolled up? Replacing the curtains is not a difficult task as substitution materials are available. Problems with the "clockwork" is much more problematic and I very much doubt you will find any supporting written material. Perhaps from another owner who has one that actually works? It might be a good idea to read the instructions for similar focal plane shutters for other German cameras so you can work out the functions of your knobs and dials.

21-Jun-2010, 02:23
Hello Steven, i'm so glad to find this non-existing club :)
I do not have the user's manual so all is mostly my prediction.

Camera have on its right side few buttons and wheels. The first one from the top is shutter rewinding with basic shutter speeds. Next below is kind of clutch which allows you to choose variations of shutter speed. Lower there is a wheel to control the internal mirror, and finaly shutter release lever. Basicly when everything is set the shutter winding wheel is rotating just around few degrees. When i removed the back panel i can see only the internal mirror, there is no shutter present (maybe it was cut and rolled up)... and it should be over there closed all the time isn't it ? Same weird thing for me is the fact that internal mirror is moving together with second focusing screen (this one to look from the top via hood). When i am trying to move mirror/screen to uper horizontal position the wheel always stuck on 45 degrees position. Then i have to push the shutter release button to allow mirror/screen to move to horizontal position. After that i have everything opened which allows me to shoot photos only with the help of the lens cap.

Main problem for me is to find picutres of original shutter curtains to get the material for the mechanic. I know one guy who dealed with similar Mentors but he never had an experience with Bentzin Klapp Reflex. So i think he probably will handle this reconstruction, but i would like to help him with pictures of original parts.

21-Jun-2010, 05:02
I have one late Reflex Primar that is still almost working (with only a slight tendency to jam the ribbons) and a even younger working Mentor, but all my pre WWII reflexes with dual curtain mechanism needed (or are still waiting for) a full curtain rebuild.

The bad news are that there are no camera repair shops that take cameras of that type for anything more than cosmetic repairs. DIY replacement of the curtain can range from easy to near impossible, depending on the camera. I haven't taken the curtains out of my Bentzin so far, but from just cleaning it, it seems to follow the mainstream European reflex pattern. Still, chances for success are slim unless you learn and experiment on a wasted related camera or two before you mess with a camera you want to keep and revive.

Klapp-Reflexes (except for the Miroflex, whose extraordinary shutter speed and tension makes it a victim to self destruction once the curtain breaks) are not worse than fixed-body ones as far as the shutter is concerned. That your focusing screen is loose inside the mirror box and the mirror has jammed will mean that your camera has extra issues with the mirror box like worn locks or bent struts - fix that first, as it would be in the way of the shutter replacement and tests!

Forget about original curtain cloth, there are only three types available in sufficient sizes, a single side one from Micro Tools and single and double sided ones from Aki Asahi (http://aki-asahi.com/store/html/curtains/shutter-curtain.php). You'll have to make do with the closest match (usually the double sided silk one).

21-Jun-2010, 07:39
Hello Sevo,
It's a really good news to hear that You own one of them :) Reflex Primar is next generation, am i right ? Is there any chance to ask You to do some photos of Your Primar ? Don't you have anything against, if i ask a few questions about the handling of this camera? Worst thing is to damage something because of technical ignorance :)

Of course i am not planing to make with this camera anything by myself. Here in my city there is one old camera service poiont and there is also one senior guy who is really brilliant and talented. He repaired for me without any problems few old cameras like pre war Rolleicords, Contax, Voigtlander etc ... i really hope that he will handle this Bentzin. All i need to do i just provide some good source material for him to take a look before he will do anything.

Beste Grusse aus Polen ;)

23-Jun-2010, 06:45
Does anyone of you have photos of the shutter in its original shape ? :)

Steven Tribe
24-Jun-2010, 13:47
Dear Bolas! As I said in my original reply - treat the Bentzin as a SLR. Get the mirror lift mechanism working properly ( and light tight!) and use a shuttered lens with helical/friction tube focussing. The chances of getting illustrations/photos of the focal plane shutter is probably zero. I am speaking of experience with a much more frequently type, the Mentor by Goltz & Breutmann.

27-Jun-2010, 14:49
Thanks :) Well ... that's all i can do without sources. I was trying to find something on the internet - kinf of original manual or maybe some sort of catalouge. All atemps unfortunately were unsuccesful. Were they really so rare/unpopular if it is so difficult to even find a manual or catalog from circa 1920/30 ?

27-Jun-2010, 14:59
I've had the same thing for Goerz Anschütz. My opinion is that manuals didn't exist for anything pre-consumer 35mm (as in before commercial Leica & Zeiss 35mm cameras) that isn't a kodak. These kinds of cameras didn't 'need' instructions because the retailer would show the user shortly before leaving the shop.

I'm probably wrong, though.

Nice looking camera all the same!

Steven Tribe
27-Jun-2010, 15:19
I have seen/perhaps still own the Ango/Anschütz Owners manual. Not very informative - just how to work the shutter and adverts for film plack back and other extras - and, of course, photo tips for the amateur.

3-Oct-2010, 14:30
The best way to go about these repairs (in my experience), is first to remember that this camera/part/mechanism was made, so it can be re-made.
The second thing to bear in mind is you don't have to fix it in a day. Some things can be 'patched up', but with the oldies nearing their 80th,90th or 100 yr birthday, some things really need to be done right from scratch if you want them to be lasting and 'proper'.
The balance between throwing out a worn piece or rejuvenating it depends on your dedication for originality or your craftmanship.
I have a camera with a focal plane shutter that I spent many hours on, trying to retain it as an original part and its not 100% but it works ok. On the other hand, I could have replaced it with new materials and made it work very well but it wouldnt be original, so that would bug me ;) I think one day I'll replace it, but for now I use it for photos.

jan labij
4-Oct-2010, 14:35
I suggest you google up graflex. When you find the graflex-graphic site, they have all kinds of tutorials on focal plane graflex shutters (also up to 1000 speed). Perhaps by going thru their site a few times, you'll get a feel for how they work and how they are serviced. They are a single curtin shutter that uses different slit widths combined with different tensions to achieve their different speeds.

4-Feb-2011, 08:48
I finaly managed to test this camera :) So here is the first result of tests: taken with Tessar 4,5/165 mm on Fomapan 100. Developed in d76 stock, i really enjoy the way this Tessar works:


Shutter still is not operational, but it is only the matter of time and patience i believe :)