Those of you camera lovers/geeks that follow the blog may remember my vintage bellows camera that I rediscovered last year. For those who have no idea what I’m on about, you can read the previous installments here and here. Unfortunately, on taking pictures at good friend Carl de Souza’s wedding, I discovered that the lovely light leak that had added interest to the pictures was now simply adding light. It seems the shoddy workmanship resulted in the leather bellows only surviving 73 years before letting in light. Try as I could, I couldn’t find the receipt in my late Grandfather’s possessions so I accepted the challenge of finding someone to get it up and running again.
After putting out a distress call on Twitter, I received a number of tips including Mr. Cad in South London. Seeing that the store specialises in vintage gear, I sent it to them for an estimate. Two days later, I received a rather disheartening call. Apparently, the engineer there couldn’t remove the bellows as it was glued into place. In removing it, he’d destroy the bellows making it impossible to create a new one. In his words, the camera was not economically viable to repair and was now simply a nice looking paperweight. When I pointed out to him that money wasn’t really an issue as it had real sentimental value to me, he repeated that it would be too expensive and not possible to work on.
Being confident/stubborn, I continued my search, eventually stumbling across the blog of US photographer Mike Connealy. On his site, he devotes a number of pages to his beloved Super Sport so I dropped him a line. Being a gent, he got back in touch to let me know that he’d since passed his Dolly on to a vintage photographer specialist back in the UK. I was sensing a light at the end of the tunnel and, this time, it was wanted.
Ten days later, the Dolly was back in my hands and looking absolutely incredible. Not only had Sandeha done an astounding job but his final bill was less than he’d originally quoted which was already staggeringly cheap. He had managed to get the camera to optimal quality without losing any of the feel of the years of use that it’s had. It’s such a fine balance to strip and clean something so thoroughly while managing to respect the natural age of an item. This man deserves a knighthood (or at the very least, your custom if you need any restoration work doing…)
So, enough back-story. Here are a few of my shots on the re-incarnated Dolly. Here’s to another 73 years…