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 email@example.com 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.
100 Year + Voigtländer
Q. Enclosed is a picture of the Voigtländer camera my father purchased at a secondhand store in London, England, in 1904. It takes 31/2x51/2" glass plates and a date inside the lens puts its manufacture date as 1896. It was last used in the late 1940s or early '50s when the glass plates were available from Kodak in England. An inspection of the camera in '76 found it to be perfectly sound in all respects. Could you please tell me if this camera has any value either commercially or as an antique?
John A. White
The Villages, FL
A. Although you did not provide the name of the model Voigtländer camera you own, the detailed photo helped when I looked through the dozen or so older Voigtländer models illustrated in my 11th Edition of McKeown's Price Guide to Antique and Classic Cameras, 2001-2002. Unfortunately, most of those illustrated were from the 1910s through the '30s and tended to have newer rim set shutter speeds instead of dial set speeds as on your camera, so I could not positively identify your camera. A few pages further in this reference book they said, "Over the years Voigtländer made many models of folding plate cameras. It would take many pages of photos to illustrate all of them. If you are unable to identify the specific model, its value is likely to fall within the normal range of $45-$60." I assume your turn of the century camera falls into this later category with a minimal value today. It sure looks nice, though, and might have some value as an antique. A Voigtländer collectors group in England can be contacted at: www.bubley.com/verein.
Q. I recently purchased, out of curiosity, a Minolta 110 SLR zoom camera at a thrift store for a few dollars. The camera seems to have an aperture priority exposure control and the zoom range is given as 25-50mm. What puzzles me greatly is how the camera is focused. There are markings on the lens barrel but nothing can be moved which relates to these markings. Is something missing? I have enclosed a couple of pictures of the camera in hope that you may be able to throw some light on the matter.
A. Your Minolta 110 Zoom SLR was introduced in 1976 and was the first SLR for 110 film. It has fully automatic aperture priority exposure and the value is $80-$120 today. A few years later a Mark II model was introduced that looks more like a conventional 35mm SLR than your rather flat, horizontal SLR. Since this predates autofocusing, the focusing of the lens should be accomplished by turning the white, front end of the lens to align the engraved foot/meter scale with the white line on the back of the lens that also indicates the focal length position of the zoom lens. I assume something jammed or froze up in the helical focusing mechanism, thus it won't turn. Thanks for providing pictures of the camera, they greatly helped me make an evaluation of your camera.
What's It Worth?
Q. I have a Polaroid 360 electronic flash in a case with all attachments and a film type 108. What would this be worth?
A. Your Polaroid Automatic 360 folding instant camera was produced from 1969-71. It was the first camera with an electronic flash that was exposure control coupled to the camera's rangefinder--a decided improvement for that era when you normally had to use a Guide Number for determining what lens aperture to use for different subject distances. The Nickel Cadmium (NiCd) battery for the flash was rechargeable with a supplied charger. The value today, according to my primary reference book, is only $15-$20. The case and accessories might boost the value slightly.