Lens Fungus

A wide variety of fungal species can infect camera lenses; these include the families Phycomycetes, Ascomycetes and fungi imperfecti (see Gordon Stalker, “Fungus and Cameras”).  The potential for fungi to permanently damage lenses depends on the species.  Some species secrete acids and other substances that will etch coatings or the glass itself.  While some of these secretions are waste by-products, others are related to the fungus’ mechanisms for collecting nutrients.  It has also been suggested that some presumed etching may actually represent insoluble deposits left behind by the hyphae (see “ESWAT: Fungus and Camera Lenses”). Fungi are the primary decomposers of organic material and can break down most organic compounds.  However, they derive little nutrition from the glass or its…Continue Reading

Restoring Vintage Cameras V: The 3A Ansco- Restoration, Step By Step

Restoration, like cutlery at a formal banquet, proceeds from the outside in.  The leather needs to be restored and reattached before interior work can be done.  However, before restoring the leather, the numerous copper oxide blisters need to be repaired: Step 1:  Copper Oxide Blisters:  These are most effectively dealt with by gently removing the leather and scraping off the green oxide mound with a miniature chisel.  The corres- ponding mound of oxide adhering to the under surface of the leather should also be scraped clean.  Since the rivets are frequently hollow, copper oxide accumulates within the rivet, and this cheesy deposit needs to be dug out with a dentist’s pick after chiseling off the surface oxide.  If the leather…Continue Reading

Restoring Vintage Cameras IV: The Model 3A Folding Ansco- The Camera and Its Story

Restore a vintage camera and post it as an online serial?  Why not!  For $12 I purchased an elegant old lady of photography, a Model 3A Folding Ansco, and will restore it online, posting the process to illustrate each step.  This post will describe the camera and explore its story; Part V will describe the restoration. The 3A Ansco is an elegant camera, with a wooden body covered with lovely pebble-grained Moroccan leather, and metal parts that gleam (or once gleamed, as they are sadly tarnished) with nickel plating.  The front standard supports a big, round, black shutter atop a gleaming collection of struts, levers and extendable feet. The Ansco’s proportions are generous, measuring 9 1/2 x 4 3/4 x…Continue Reading

Restoring Vintage Cameras III: Techniques

This posting will cover some of the basic techniques that I use in camera restoration:  leather restoration, bellows repair, and maintenance of camera interiors.  There may, of course, be a few digressions… Leather Restoration: The three most common camera coverings are leather of the “Morocco” variety, typically found on the older, pre-1925 roll film cameras and large format cameras; harder black leather encountered on post-1925 roll film cameras; and leatherette and other artificial coverings found on prewar to modern cameras. It is worth noting that true Moroccan leather is made from goatskin; the French make an imitation from sheepskin, which is also known as saffian.  The Household Cyclopedia of General Knowledge‘s account from 1881 of the preparation of Moroccan leather…Continue Reading

Restoring Vintage Cameras II: Tools

Basic camera restoration can be accomplished using a fairly simple collection of tools.  Despite my considerable collection of tools, paints and solvents, with the exception of my beloved Dremel, my nucleus of essential tools and materials fits in a purse-sized bag that I often take on my travels. Finding Tools My tools have been assembled from various sources.  Many can be purchased in any hardware store, while a number of others have been modified from other tools or made from scratch.  A specialty hardware store, if you can find one, is a tremendous benefit.  Seattle is blessed by Hardwick’s Hardware – an ancient establishment, with narrow, dusty aisles, racks of exotic pliers, cabinets of knives and Japanese woodworking tools, a…Continue Reading