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MF Folding Camera Restoration
Old 12-07-2005   #1
cbass
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MF Folding Camera Restoration

Hello,

I've got an old Agfa Jsolette that has the trifecta of Agfa problems: frozen focus, slow shutter and suspect bellows. But aside from those common maladies the Jsolette is ummarked. It also has the nicer Apotar 85/4.5 lens and a full range of shutter speeds.

I'm thinking of sending the Jsolette off to Jurgen Kreckel for refurbishing. Have any RFF members used his services? His website is tremendously informative and he seems to have a real love for restoration work. However, I'd like to get some opinions before I commit to the job.

Also, is it even worth restoring a (non-RF) folder like the Jsolette or should I save up the funds for something like a used Fuji GA 645? I'd like to continue to explore MF photography without breaking the bank. Of course, there's always a Holga...

Thanks in advance for any suggestions and advice. May all of you enjoy a happy and peaceful holiday season.
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Old 12-07-2005   #2
DougK
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I've thought about doing something like this myself, although I'm not 100% comfortable with my distance guesstimation skills. However, the only photos I've shot worth printing larger than 8x10 came from a scale-focus Trip 35, so if you're comfortable with the idea of scale focusing, go for it.

I guess it comes down to how much the restoration will cost you. It'll almost certainly be less than buying a GA645 and maybe you can pick up a shoe-mountable RF at some point.
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Old 12-07-2005   #3
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I was restoring old folders until my supply of N.O.S. bellow dried up a couple of years ago.

The Jsolette that you have is really an Isolette. In the old German script a capital I looks like a J.

With regards to sending it to Juergan, it won't be cost effective on this one. For the same amount of money you could have an Iskra, which is a Cadillac in comparison.

So you know what you have, here is a LINK to my Isolette web page.
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35mm Gear Bessa R, Leica II, - IIIg, - M2
Just for fun 35mm Gear a Kodak Retina IIa, a Rollei 35 S, plus an Oly 35RD and a Voigtlander Vito II
Modern Medium Format Fuji GW 690III
Vintage MF Folders a Voigtländer Perkeo II and Bessa II, 2 of them - a ZI Mess Ikonta 524/2 - plus an Agfa Super Isolette & a Record III
Digital a D300 and a D700 with some primes - still going over a decade later

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Old 12-08-2005   #4
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Gentlemen, thank you for your input and thanks for pointing out my spelling mistake -- "Isolette".

Andrew, your site very helpful. I'll also research the Iskra. What I'm looking for is a simple, durable and compact MF camera for travel, landscapes and static subjects. I'm comfortable with scale focusing so the RF isn't a requirement. I figured for the money spent restoring the Agfa I'd have a decent camera that would be ready for another 40 years of use.
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Old 12-08-2005   #5
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Did I mention that the Iskra is a Soviet clone of the Agfa Super Isolette?
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- Andrew in Austin, Texas -

35mm Gear Bessa R, Leica II, - IIIg, - M2
Just for fun 35mm Gear a Kodak Retina IIa, a Rollei 35 S, plus an Oly 35RD and a Voigtlander Vito II
Modern Medium Format Fuji GW 690III
Vintage MF Folders a Voigtländer Perkeo II and Bessa II, 2 of them - a ZI Mess Ikonta 524/2 - plus an Agfa Super Isolette & a Record III
Digital a D300 and a D700 with some primes - still going over a decade later

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Old 12-08-2005   #6
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I was fixing these up a couple years ago, must have found about ten of them. If you take your time you can fix the shutter and the frozen focus but you will need to buy a new bellows. everyone I had needed it, some worse than others. Jurgen was selling bellows for something like $40. I have a tip in the repair section here of loosening the lens elements.
I would send only one of the nicer Solinar rangefinder equiped cameras to him for repair if I was you as the plain Isolettes are pretty cheap even restored.
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Old 12-09-2005   #7
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Re: Jurgen Kreckel -check out "Medium Format In Your Pocket!" by Darrell Young at http://www.cleanimages.com/articles/...et/folders.htm nice.
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Old 01-02-2006   #8
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It may be that you can purchase multiple Isolettes for the cost of a Jeurgen CLA, but I have purchased several Isolettes from auction sellers and always find problems with them that render them basically unusable. I took the best of them (an Agfa/Ansco Speedex 4.5 Special) and sent it to Jeurgen for a CLA and new bellows and got it back a few days ago... I should have done this 2 years ago when this Speedex came into my posession in the first place! If you didn't know it was a 50-year old camera, you would not be able to tell by looking at it now (style and technology aside...) - - it looks like it just came out of the box. He did a fantastic job.

Just like Chris said above, I now feel like a have a shooter in good condition that I can use for another 40 years.
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Old 01-02-2006   #9
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No, this is the entry level model. I don't think it's worth the cost of restoration. I would go for a better camera -- a plain Ikonta 521/16 with a Tessar will cost you only a little bit more but will be a much better camera in the long run.
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Old 01-10-2006   #10
Mike Kovacs
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Its bellows that are the real killer in terms of restoration cost. Either you learn to make them yourself or stay away from Agfa/Ansco cameras with bellows problems IMO. (or pay big bucks to have them replaced)

I am with Zeissfan that the Zeiss Ikonta is a much nicer camera than the Agfa. Build quality is head and shoulders highter.
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