Help! Page 2
Q. I was recently given a nice, old 4x5 Speed Graphic camera with accessories. Fifteen years ago, when I briefly borrowed this camera, it was in great shape. Unfortunately, I believe the owner stored it in his basement for a while. There appears to be white mildew growing on the leather exterior of the camera. Please see the attached images. As you can imagine, my first question is, "How do I go about cleaning the mildew off of the camera?" Once clean (if possible), do I have to worry about mildew "spores" that might be lurking on the bellows, inside the camera, on the steel fittings, inside the case, on the flash gun, in the film holders? Basically, do I have to clean everything that is in the case? And if so, do I have to disassemble the camera, too? I'd like to save this camera and keep it working.
Steven D. Winter
St. Joseph, MI
A. Fortunately, I have not had this problem with either of my 4x5 cameras or any of the dozens of other older cameras I have around my home. To obtain a valid answer, I spoke to an old acquaintance, Jack Deardorff, whose family made the highly regarded Deardorff large format view cameras for many years. Jack said to use a cotton swab and plain household vinegar diluted about 1:1 with water, and swab down the mildew on your Speed Graphic. It probably would be advisable to do this on the inside of the bellows also. You can remove the lensboard for access to the inside and probably can remove the back also for a larger opening to get your hand through. Stretch the bellows out as far as possible by placing the front standard at the far end of the focusing track and then crank the track out until it stops. I would allow the dampened, swabbed area to dry for several days prior to reassembling the camera and trying to use it. I doubt that you would have problems with the case, film holders, flash, or other accessories, but if you detect any mildew there also, use the same method to clean them. Dry off any moisture left after the swabbing. Hope this enables you to get your 4x5 in operating condition again soon. By the way, Jack now runs a view camera repair business probably 100 miles southwest of you in Valparaiso, Indiana. You can contact him at (219) 464-9748 if you have further questions. He advertises in Shutterbug.
Q. I was referred to you by Kodak in the hopes that you could help me get an old 126 film processed that I came across while visiting my parents this past June. They informed me that they stopped the process back in 2002. Could you assist me or point me in the right direction?
A. I don't know who you contacted at Kodak, but a few years ago when I called them, the Kodak hotline (800-242-2424) recommended some of these firms below for processing older films such as C-22 color negative, which I believe your 126 would be. It should say the intended process on the outside of the film cartridge. I suggest contacting them first to verify the mailing address and the cost, as it might be prohibitively expensive. Generally they wait till they get enough film, and then make the runs, so it might take a few weeks. Here's a list of the firms: Pinky Processing, Little Rock, AR, (501) 375-6409; Prep Film Services Lab, 21940 Cumberland, Northville, MI 48167, (800) 793-3456, www.prepfilm.com; Vermont Color Photographic Craftsmen, PO Box 260, Bennington, VT 05201, (802) 442-6371; Film Rescue International, PO Box 44, Fortuna, ND 58844, (800) 329-8988, www.filmrescue.com; Kolor Print, Inc., 2121 Thayer St., Little Rock, AR 72202, (501) 375-5581; Rocky Mountain Film Lab, 560 Geneva St., Aurora, CO 80010, (303) 364-6444, www.rockymountainfilm.com. Hopefully, one or more of these labs can process your old 126 film. Just be aware that the latent image might have faded with age and may not produce particularly good, colorful images.
Konica Auto S3 Battery
Q. I was referred to you by Konica. They said you might be able to help me. I just inherited a Konica Auto S3. It seems to be a terrific 35mm auto rangefinder camera. The problem is the battery. It uses a 675 mercury battery that is not available in this country. Is there a substitute that I can use and where could I buy it?
A. I have a few sources for replacements for discontinued or banned batteries. Some were provided by readers. As some of these are a few years old, the area codes on the phone numbers may have changed. A reader informed me about a battery source via the Internet, www.px625.com (90 Orchard St., Boston, MA 02130); he said you could order PX625 and PX675 batteries through them. Another reader said a web source that was best for him was "www.batteries4everything.com." The company is Cell Energy, Inc. and their phone number is (800) 321-0714. Batteries.com (6024 West 79th St., Indianapolis, IN 46278; (888) 288-6500; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org) is a source for many types of batteries. You could also try Scherer Supplies (PO Box 250, Ewing, VA 24248; (276) 733-2615). Finally, your local RadioShack store is a good source for older and hard to find batteries. If they don't stock the one you need, often they can order it. I hope one or more can provide the replacement 675 size battery you seek.
Q. For many years a 4x5 "build-it-yourself" camera kit was advertised in almost all photographic magazines. (I don't remember the exact name, but Benson or Bender keeps coming to mind.) The cost was around $300, I think. Now that I have the money and time to build one I discover that it is no longer advertised. Is that kit still available, and where can it be obtained?
show two firms in my files that offered wooden view camera kits. They are: Bender
Photographic, Inc., 19691 Beaver Valley Rd., Leavenworth, WA 98826, (800) 776-3199
or (509) 763-2626, www.benderphoto.com; Fader Photo Works, Lester Fader, 1402
Bardstown Trail, Ann Arbor, MI 48105. The latter company is about 15 years old
and I don't know if they are still in business. I did call the 800 number
for Bender and got their answering machine. I built one of their 8x10 cameras
15 or so years ago and it was a quite complete kit that merely required some
deft handling of glue and assembling the many precut components to make a usable
camera. I'm not sure of the kit cost today. I hope one or both of these
help you put your money and time to good use.