Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Grandpa's World War II Agfa Viking

I thought I had written about this a few years back, but it seems I forgot to post it.
Back in December of 2010, my Grandfather gave me his Agfa Viking camera. He picked it up during World War II, during which he was stationed in Japan and the Phillipines. He seems to remember trading a 35mm Japanese camera for it. Who knows what that may have been?
Anyway, once I got it, I saw that the shutter seemed to be working fine, and the lens turned to allow focusing (it's very common for the cell to get locked in place over so many years). Then I found the aspect that threatened to prevent me from using this old jewel - it is designed for 616 film, which is no longer available.
Grandpa's Agfa Viking
Undaunted, I hand-fabricated a thin plastic mask that allows 120 film (not as wide as 616) to ride in the correct film plane in the camera. I then modified some 120 spools to fit into the Viking. It's not perfect, and sometimes the spools slip during film transport. I measured out which exposure numbers on the 120 film backing would indicate sufficient travel. I can now use the red window on the back to make sure I've wound the film on far enough to avoid overlapping images.
This configuration results in a panoramic aspect ratio. Here are two shots I made in Washington, DC with the Viking:
As I said, it's a little fiddly to use, and frankly I have enough medium format folders that were designed for 120 film that I haven't gone back and used the Viking since that maiden voyage. But, it was great fun challenging myself to be able to shoot it at all. Pretty impressive images, if you ask me.
That said, I hope that someday the Film Photography Project (FPP), or someone else, will reintroduce 616 film for us niche camera owners. Probably hoping against hope. I'm not sure how many cameras were sold that used this particular format film. But then again, who would have guessed that FPP would be marketing 620 film? They are!
(Click Here) to check out FPP.