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Franka Solida.

In mid December 2003 I found myself in an antique shop in Brisbane looking through an assortment of old folding cameras.

Old Agfas, Kodaks, Minoltas, etc...

I had been looking at one in the shop for a few months.  It was still there.  It was a Franka Solida.  I was unfamiliar with the company, but the camera said "Made in German" so I figured the build quality should be reasonable.

Compared to the others the Solida seemed to be better equipped with a brighter lens (1:2.9/75).  I decided to buy it and try it out.

After buying it I found some material on the web that suggested the Compur shutters were better than Pronto shutters.
The Solida I purchased sports a Compur-Rapid shutter (speeds from 1 sec to 1/400 plus B) and a relatively clean Schneider-Kreuznach Radionar f/2.8 75mm lens.

It is quite a funky camera to use.  Previous to loading it with film I opened the back and put a frosted glass plate on the film plane to see what the image looked like.  Not too bad at all.  I couldn't see any light leaks, but running a film through would be the only real test. 

This camera has a "guessomatic" focusing system.  That is, the distances are written in feet on the lens and you focus it accordingly.
For the first image on the film I decided to use the close end of the lens and focused it on a flower (see photo) using the glass plate.
Next, I loaded the film (Velvia 50).  Then I advanced the film.  The camera back has a small red window with a shutter that allows you to "see" the film in the camera.  120 film has a paper backing so the actual film sheet is not seen through the window, just the paper backing.
I didn't know what to expect when loading the film as my other 120 cameras are SLRs and have levers to advance the film to the next frame.  I wound the film advance knob and saw a horizontal line appear in the window.  I fired the shutter and wound on.  Next a dot appeared.  I fired again and wound on.  Then a "1" appeared.  Oops!  "This is probably were I should have started" - I fired the shutter realizing that I would have a triple exposure on the first image, then wound on to "2".

The Results
Image 1
Click for larger photo
The flower on the right is the first proper exposure I took with the Solida.  It was taken at f/11 for 1/200 sec and it is a bit over exposed and shows vignetting at the edges.  The next exposure (on the left) is the one I prefer.  It was taken at f/16 for 1/200, it may be a fraction too dark, but is much sharper.

Image 2 Click for larger photo
I'm quite pleased with the rest of the film.  Exposures are clean with no light leaks.  Quite a surprise.
The exposure on the right was taken at f/22 for 1/50 sec.
The exposure on the left was taken at f/16 for 1/100 sec.
Next time I will use a tripod - This was just a test film to see if the shutter/iris was accurate and check for light leaks.

Not a bad camera.  The lens seems a bit soft at the edges, but for its age it is a ripper.  So compact.
I haven't cleaned up the camera since I bought it - Just cleaned the lens.

Maybe it now deserves a make over.

This page was created on Tuesday 23rd December 2003