Friday, 19 February 2016

Ferrania Ibis 127 film camera

This is a very non-standard camera. Firstly, it is Italian which means a distinct design philosophy that is very different to the German.  Secondly, it has one control - shutter speed: either B or I (Instantaneous).


Ferrania Ibis closed (C) John Margetts

lens: Primar
focal length:  75 mm (ish)
apertures: fixed
focus range: fixed
lens fitting: fixed
shutter: Ferrania own
speeds:  two: B and I
flash: PC socket
film size: 127

The camera measures 120 mm by 70 mm high and 55 mm deep (closed) or 80 mm (open). It is a small camera and fits entirely in my hand. It also fits comfortably in my jacket pocket so is an eminently usable travel camera. The only down-side is the size of the viewfinder eyepiece which is unusably small while wearing spectacles. It is made entirely from a cast light metal (aluminium?). As far as I can see, there is a single casting for the body and a second casting for the back.
Ferrania Ibis open (C) John Margetts
The lens is held on the front of a chrome tube that slides into the body when not in use. The lens seems to be a single element lens - that is, a meniscus lens and is coated (it has a blueish tint). The shutter is also in the chrome tube and is a simple, everset type. It has two speeds only - Instantaneous or Bulb. the aperture is behind the shutter. the front of the housing is marked 1:9 which I take to be the aperture (but more later). Measuring the distance from the approximate centre of the lens to the film 'plane' gives me a focal length of 75 mm which would be 'normal' for 127 film. If that is right, the aperture of 4 mm diameter would give a fixed aperture of f/19 in which case the 1:9 on the lens fascia is not the aperture.  Also on the collapsible chrome tube is a PC socket for flash - no accessory shoe is provided so the flashgun will require a bracket to hold it onto the tripod boss (the standard 1/4 inch Whitworth or UNC thread).

Ferrania Ibis - rear view
The film gate measures 55 by 42 mm so a 'normal lens' would have a focal length of 70 mm so the lens provided is 'normal' - equivalent to 43 mm on a 35 mm camera or 28 mm on a APS-C digital camera. The top of the camera has the shutter release to the right of centre and fairly forward. The viewfinder is pretty much central and to the left is the film advance knob. Being a film camera, there is no need for a rewind knob. On top of the viewfinder is a plate with details of ferrania films of the day.
Inside and the detached back
The back of the camera is held in place at each end by sliding strap lugs. There is a central red window for seeing the frame numbers on the film backing paper.

Inside is redolent  of cheap film cameras. To offset the aberrations inherent in a meniscus lens, the film 'plane' is curved (so not strictly a plane). The new film goes at the right and the take-up spool is on the left. Both spools are held in place by a single spring steel strip.

Inside showing the curved film 'plane'

The outside of the camera is painted grey with dark grey leatherette patches. Compared to what Zeiss Ikon and Voigtlander were doing in Germany at the same time; it is a very crude, cheap looking camera but it is not without charm. The camera comes in a purpose made and rather nice leather case. As this camera uses 127 film which, while still available, is rather expensive I shall not be trying this camera with film.

Empty case

Case with camera

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Cosina C1 35 mm film SLR

I got interested in Cosina cameras  while reading about the cameras they make for Big Name companies - companies like Canon, Nikon and Olympus. I started, many years ago, with the impression that Cosina only made cheap, low-spec cameras. That impression is now updated. My first Cosina was a CT1 (article coming) which is (still) sold by Nikon as their FM10 and was sold by Canon as their T60 and Olympus as their OM2000.
Cosina C1 - (C) John Margetts

lens: Cosina 35-70 mm zoom
focal length: 35-70 mm
apertures: f/3.5 to f/22 (nominally)
focus range: 0.5 metres to infinity
lens fitting: Pentax K-mount
shutter: Cosina metal focal plane
speeds: 1 second to 1/2000 seconds
flash: hot shoe, X synch
film size: 35 mm

This camera, the C1, is a much later camera.  The outside is plastic and so is (as far as I can tell) the chassis. This makes it feel to hold much like a modern DSLR. That is not a criticism of the cameras as a photographic device but as a collector of old cameras, the tactile component is important to me.

Once manufacturers turned to plastic mouldings, shape restrictions were removed. With this camera, while the internal chassis seems to still be rectangular (cuboid?) the outside has flowing curves. This is partially aesthetic and partially ergonomic. The camera is clearly designed to be held right-handed. There is a curved. raised portion on the front to give the middle two fingers a good grip and a second raised portion on the back to give a secure grip for the thumb. This leaves the index finger to comfortably sit  on the shutter release button. The curves continue around the pentaprism hump and in the junction between the body and the lens mount. my personal preference is for more classically designed cameras.

Cosina C1, top plate (C) John Margetts
The top plate has the standard layout - film advance lever, shutter release button and shutter speed selector on the right of the pentaprism hump and the rewind crank/door latch on the left. This camera has a standard hot-shoe accessory shoe (and no PC connector). The film advance lever acts as a shutter lock and light meter switch when the lever is flush with the body.

The front of the camera is unadorned apart from the Pentax K-mount lens mount and the name C1. This is the plain vanilla mount with no electrical contacts or autofocus screw. The rear of the camera is similarly unadorned - there is the viewfinder eyepiece and a window to allow the user to see part of the film cassette: ideal for those of us with virtually no memory.

Inside, the camera has no surprises. The shutter is a vertical travel metal shutter which is, I think, Cosina's own make. This offers speeds from 1 second to 1/2000 seconds and is synchronised for flash at 1/125 - marked in red on the speed selector dial. The speeds on the selector dial go anti-clockwise from 1 to 1/2000 seconds (the opposite way to the Cosina CT1).

Cosina shutter
The plastic back fits without light seals. the technique of moulding the plastic allows for sufficient light baffles without the use of foam. there are two exceptions: a small piece of foam by the hinge and a larger piece around the window to the film cassette. These are in good condition and the camera should still be usable without replacing them.

This camera comes with a TTL (Through The lens) light meter. It is powered by two LR44 batteries which are still available. On this camera, the meter does not work.

The lens that came with the camera is, I assume, the kit lens that Cosina provided with the camera when new. It is Cosina's own 35 - 70 mm zoom lens. It has an aperture range of f/3.5 to f/22 at 35 mm and f/4.8 to f/22+ at 70 mm. It is multi-coated and claims macro ability. This macro ability gives an image:subject ratio of 1:5 rather than the 1:1 ratio that is usually thought of as true macro. Focusing is from just under 0.5 metres (1.5 feet) and the focus scale is marked in both metres and feet.

The aperture scale is rather confusing. The aperture ring sets the size of the aperture (as you might expect) but the f-number is a ratio between focal length and aperture diameter. This means that the marked f/ stop depends on the zoom setting. For setting the aperture at 35 mm focal length there is a red dot for the aperture ring and at 70 mm focal length there is a green line (on the zoom scale, 35 mm is in red and 70 mm is in green). For zoom settings between 35 mm and 70 mm, neither mark will be quite right and you could be up to 1/2 stop out on your exposure, depending on whether you use the red dot or green line. in use, 1/2 stop + or - is neither here nor there. marked f/ stops are from f/3.5 to f/22 but this is clearly the case with  zoom setting of 35 mm. At 70 mm, the widest aperture is f/4.8 and the smallest is significantly less than f/22 - I would guess f/32.

The lens mount is Pentax's K mount. It is the plain vanilla mount as introduced in 1975. There are no electrical contacts or auto-focus screw so the lens is fully manual. Any K-mount lens will work with this camera so long as the lens has an aperture ring, and this lens will work on any K-mount camera - but only manually.

The lens is entirely plastic and does feel rather 'plasticky' but the adjustments are all very smooth and the lens looks to be well made.