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edmund j. kowalski | profile | all galleries >> Galleries >> Monster at the Zoo tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Monster at the Zoo

I enjoy building "Monster Cameras"... hybrid devices built from bits and pieces of sometimes dissimilar film cameras, plus non-camera hardware items, fused into a new creation that can and will function.
In July of 2005, this Monster A2B came into shape.
The lens/shutter assembly was found at a camera swap meet. Most probably the combo originated in some German folder design; lens and shutter would date it mid to late 1930's, I would say a 6 x 9 medium format (120 roll film camera) judging by the 10.5 cm focal length. The assemblies are not difficult to remove from a camera... open the back with the bellows folded in; the retainer ring around the rear lens is all that holds it in place.
The Argus A2B body (bakelite, 1940's vintage) I used had a bad lens/shutter assembly, the blades of the aperture diaphragm had come loose of their pins and I did not feel like tearing into it, all the small shutter parts have to be removed to access the blades on the design. So I removed the entire lens barrel assembly, removed the four screws from the front escutcheon, pulled it all out, barrel, spring, light trap ribbon. The screw holes had to then be filled, the two on the driver's right side let light into the film sprocket area, so I filled those from the back with screws. I then had a clean open cavity in the front to work with.
I played with plumbing supplies and plastic drain pipe fittings, found a piece that slipped into the camera cavity nicely, and a screw-together slip joint style connection that holds the shutter assembly nicely; the lens is now easily removable by unscrewing the drain pipe collar. Using another slip joint connection I was able to adjust the length of the barrel to achieve the correct length for the lens to focus sharply onto a "ground glass" at the film plane. The front lens element allows focusing from 3.5 feet to infinity. The white plastic of the drain pipes seeps light so I had to deal with that. After the barrel was pieced together I spray painted the inside of the "barrel" with flat black enamel, then made a lining of thin black foam material for the front portion of the inside, not too far back because I did not want further vignetting. The rear threaded portion of the barrel got a healthy application of contact cement before final insertion into the body cavity, then set in place 24 hours. I used black tape on the outside of the barrel to help lock the portions together, to give it a soft covering for looks and feel, and to help complete lightproofing.
For the finder, I cut little masks of black material and made openings about half the width and heighth of the front and back lenses, since the original finder is designed for 50 mm lens. The little masks are installed between finder glass and retainer clips. Finder seems reasonably accurate now for 105 mm use.
Sunday, July 17, 2005, I made a film test. Location was the St.Louis (Missouri) Zoo. Conditions were mostly sunny and very hot and humid. Film was a roll of Konica/Minolta ASA 200 for color prints. Here are a few digital shots of the completed camera itself, and images from the film test. All images here are 2005 E.J.Kowalski
MonsterA2B1.JPG
MonsterA2B1.JPG
MonsterA2B2.JPG
MonsterA2B2.JPG
MonsterA2B3.JPG
MonsterA2B3.JPG
Birdhouse.JPG
Birdhouse.JPG
Details.JPG
Details.JPG
Indian.JPG
Indian.JPG
Railing.JPG
Railing.JPG
Seal Lions.JPG
Seal Lions.JPG
Tortoises.JPG
Tortoises.JPG
Botanical1.JPG
Botanical1.JPG
TigerLilies1.JPG
TigerLilies1.JPG
TigerLilies2.JPG
TigerLilies2.JPG