Sunday, October 27, 2013

Refinished Burke & James View Camera


Refinished Burke & James View Camera.

During the limited time that I am not working on the NS Industrial Project (see previous posts), you'll find me cooking, watching movies and lately, restoring old cameras.

The little Futura S w/ 50mm f2.0.
It began when I came across an old Futura S rangefinder from the fifties that needed a bit of love. A quick inspection led to the discovery of a sticky Syncro-Compur shutter—they often get that way, especially the slow speeds—and some spider mould in the lens. Otherwise it was in fairly promising shape, and is currently loaded with some Ilford  HP-5 to give it a "test run," so to speak. More on my conclusions later.

The camera I am most excited about is a Burke & James 4x5 view camera, also from the 1950s. It has been in my possession for a few years now, but age had gotten the better of it long before it was in my hands. The original grey paint was cracking and the hardware had rusted over its (neglected) lifetime, amongst some other issues. Not to mention, the original lens had been swapped for an old enlarging lens, which was filled with dust and mildew as well. However, I decided that due to the simplicity of the camera and the quality wood construction, it would be worthwhile restoring. The lens was easy enough to rebuild as well, but I'm currently hunting for a suitable replacement outfitted with an oh-so-necessary shutter mechanism. The following photographs show the B&J before, during, but mostly after refinishing—because let's be honest, that's what you want to look at anyways!

Left: The camera components before refinishing.  Right: Cleaned, lacquered and ready for assembly.
Completely refinished Burke & James view camera, demonstrating full movements. 

Left: Original nameplate, made in Chicago, USA.  Right: Detail of wood, hardware and the front standard. 

Folded and ready for travel; front and rear views. It's actually quite compact. 

Left: Re-drawn grid lines, new light seal foam, and new paint.  Right: The B&J in its 'standard' position.

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