Here is a quick tip list on letters for the HELP! desk:
Please confine yourself to only one question per letter. Both postal letters and e-mails are fine, although we prefer e-mail as the most efficient form of communication. Send your e-mail queries to firstname.lastname@example.org with Help in the subject header and your return e-mail address at the end of your message. Although we make every effort, we cannot promise to answer every HELP! letter.
When sending a response or suggestion that refers to a published letter please include the month and page of the original question.
All postal letters to HELP! must be accompanied by a stamped, self-addressed envelope to be considered for reply. We will respond to e-mail queries with an e-mail.
George Schaub, Editor
Super Ricohflex Focusing
In the November 2003 HELP! department, Joel Gardner had a focusing question about his Super Ricohflex TLR. He observed that the taking lens did not change focus as the lenses were focused (they are synchronized by external gears). I, too, have this inexpensive but excellent camera with the same problem. The geared caps on the two lenses are each held in place by three tiny cone-shaped screws. As the camera ages, the lubricant in the focusing threads of this camera sometimes dries out. Eventually, one of the two lenses freeze in place. Because the metal is soft where the three screws make contact, the three screws score the frozen lens top but do not turn in. Only the lens cap and screws are turning, giving the illusion that the whole lens is turning. I doubt that the lens threads can be freed. Buying another working identical camera would be the least expensive repair. My camera with case cost $19.99 in 1958 and gave years of good service.
James Sheedy, Sr.
In his letter to us Mr. Sheedy also mentioned that he not only collects cameras, but sometimes does minor repairs on them. He also offered assistance or advice on some other reader questions, which we have passed on to the readers. Since he is personally experienced with the same type of focusing problem Mr. Gardner encountered with his identical camera, we thought this information should be included in the department to assist others owning a Super Ricohflex TLR who might have a similar focusing problem. We thank him for providing this data to assist several readers.
On page 188 in the February 2005 issue of Shutterbug Bill Bullis inquires about a source for "vulcanite." You might want to refer him to the following website after you have first looked at it yourself to ascertain that it is relevant: www.angelfire.com/biz/Leica/vulcanite.html.
Thanks for sending the website for "vulcanite." I accessed it and found detailed and illustrated information on how to re-cover older Leica camera bodies. They even have a price list for the re-covering and camera repair service (in pounds), which they offer.
Q. Fifty years ago, I had two Goerz Golden Dagor f/6.8 lenses that I used for both studio and field assignments. I no longer see this lens advertised new or used; do you know what happened to the C. P. Goerz American Optical Co. that produced it? Also, do you or someone at Shutterbug know how this lens would compare in quality, sharpness, and contrast with commercial lenses in use today?
A. I don't have any personal experience with Goerz Golden Dagor lenses, so I called a friend who specializes in large format work, primarily black and white fine art imaging. He said some of the old Goerz American Optical formulas were purchased by Rodenstock and Schneider when Goerz American Optical went out of business, and some were still being produced until about 10 years ago. Lenses produced today have much more precision grinding and assembly, thus are better for critical use, especially when the image is enlarged considerably. The older optics are still fine today but primarily for images only used for contact printing. When the image is greatly enlarged, a newer optic produces better results. In addition, most of the Goerz Golden Dagor lenses were not coated, though sometimes as they age they develop a yellowish coating that does tend to enhance the image quality. I guess his comments, boiled down, point to the fact that today's optics excel in many respects over the older optics, especially when working with color materials and making considerable enlargements from a negative/positive image.