I’ve had the best results yet in developing black-and-white film. But all’s not perfect.
This time I shot my last roll of original Fujifilm Neopan 100 Acros in my Yashica-12 and developed it in Rodinal 1+50 for 10:30 at 23° (as that’s the temperature of my bathroom). I used the Massive Dev App and, thanks to a tip from a commenter, removed the Hypo Clear step that I don’t use. I agitated by twisting the agitator rod. As you can see from these phone photos I made of the negatives, one edge was washed out.
I think I know what happened. I didn’t push the reel to the bottom of the core I’m using, which is longer than the reel. 500ml of Rodinal solution in the tank was therefore not enough to cover the whole negative.
The well-developed part of each negative looks really good to me — neither dense nor thin. But my scanner tried to compensate for the washed-out edge of the film and I had to play with the exposure, highlights, and dehaze sliders in Photoshop to fix that. I also had to crop out the washed-out area. But all twelve photographs are usable.
I took this camera with me to Plymouth, Indiana, for a board meeting of the Historic Michigan Road Association. I made photographs on the way home, in Plymouth and Logansport, at Sycamore Row near Deer Creek, and in Burlington and Kirklin.
Old folding cameras are so elemental. You get a lens and a shutter, but everything else is up to you. Plus, even the most straightforwardly styled of them look elegant. It’s like having a beautiful but difficult girlfriend. Especially when something’s wrong in the relationship and she leaves it entirely up to you to fix it. That’s how it has gone for me with this Certo Super Sport Dolly.
Certo was a German company, headquartered in Dresden. It produced a wide range of Super Sport Dollys (Dollies?) from about 1934 to about 1942. Mine is a Model A, the most common version by far. It takes 120 film. SSDs could be had with a dizzying array of lenses and shutters, but mine happens to feature the most common lens, the capable 75mm f/2.9 Meyer Görlitz Trioplan, set in the most comon shutter, a Compur, which operates from 1 to 1/250 second.
Certo also offered the Model B, which adds the ability to use plate film, and the Model C, which adds to the Model B the ability to rewind rollfilm. Most SSDs have a pop-up viewfinder, but the Models A and C could be had with rangefinders. And some SSDs focus by twisting the front lens element, and others focus by moving the entire lens board.
But back to my Model A. Notice the three frame-counter windows on the back, behind a door that covers them. Masks that clip on inside the camera let the SSD create either portrait 4.5×6-cm or square 6×6-cm negatives. The top and bottom windows count 4.5×6 frames and the center window counts 6×6 frames. My SSD came with only the 6×6 mask. New SSDs shipped with an exposure calculator card inside the door. As you can see, my SSD’s original owner replaced that card with some personal exposure notes.
My SSD shows signs of heavy use and rough service. But the lens is clear and focuses smoothly. And the shutter snaps with square-jawed, steely-eyed authority. It sounds like it means business. It’s the Charles Bronson of shutters.
If you like folding cameras like this one, also see my reviews of the Voigtländer Bessa (here), the Kodak Monitor Six-20 (here), the Kodak Tourist (here), the Ansco B2 Speedex (here)
But before I could use this Certo Super Sport Dolly, I had to repair it. The focusing mechanism was broken. I outlined the repair here. Once fixed, it behaved beautifully.
I shot a roll of Kodak Ektar 100 at Crown Hill Cemetery on an overcast day late last autumn. Just look at the great sharpness that Trioplan lens delivered. The bokeh is middling, though.
I found it hard to frame in the tiny viewfinder. I worried that close shots would be misframed, and I was right. My framing of landscape shots turned out fine, though. I shot a lot of landscapes to check the SSD’s infinity focus. A complete repair of the focusing system would have included properly collimating the lens. That sounded like a hassle so I set infinity focus quickly and dirtily. It turned out okay.
Oh bother, a light leak. See it there, on the right, about 4/5 of the way down? There really isn’t much to go wrong with a simple camera like this, but bellows pinholes is one of the most common problems. My cursory initial check of the camera didn’t find any pinholes, but I suppose that’s the problem with cursory checks.
This throwaway shot of cars in my driveway shows the leak at its leakiest.
I took the SSD into a dark room and shone a bright flashlight into the bellows. The corners lit up with pinholes. I dabbed fabric paint onto them all as a quick fix, let it dry, and tried the camera again. The film this time was Kodak Tri-X 400.
I took the SSD out on a short trip up the Michigan Road. I stopped in Kirklin first for a few photos.
Then I moved north along the road to Burlington for a few more photos. As you can see, the fabric paint cured the light leak. At least it did for now; who knows how permanent a fix that stuff is.
Once again I discovered that the SSD is best at medium distances and beyond. Anything too close, and you can’t be sure of the viewfinder’s framing. This is my only real gripe with the camera.