Automat K4/50 in action…

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Automat K4/50 in action...

Took my son to the Daniel Boone Homestead this weekend. Had the Automat loaded with 400 Tri-X. Side note – I HATE 400 films! Haven’t found one yet that I’m happy with in HC-110, and I’m not switching developers any time soon.

Anyway, this was a real-life test of the Automat, in the field. I found I do not like the waxed screen. It was suggested on APUG that the wax was applied too heavily, though I’m not sure how I’d apply it any more sparingly than I did. Moral of the story – I’m stripping the wax off. I’d rather go with the stock screen, cleaned with a clean mirror and viewing lens, than deal with the hot spot created by the wax.

Otherwise, this camera is a gem to use. Cranking is smooth and solid, shutter is good, and it lives up to its Rolleiflex heritage. New leather is ordered. This one will be finished soon.

Automat K4/50 – Test results…

A few nights ago I set up the Rolleiflex on a tripod, put it close to the bottom baluster on the stairs, and shot.

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This is a crop of the full frame. Shot at minimum focus distance, wide open at f/3.5. The focus looks good, the lens sharp. I’m pleased with this camera now. To finish the roll, my daughter hammed it up.

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Now, I’m still undecided about the screen. It’s wicked sharp, but the wax creates a horrible hot sopt on the ground glass. Easier to focus, harder to compose. Not sure I like the compromise. I may be putting an RB67 screen in this camera yet.

Automat K4/50 – More tweaking (shutter release and viewing screen)…

While I was pleased overall with the test shots posted yesterday, there was enough motion blur in all the shots that I figured something was up. While I may just be unable to consistently hand-hold at slow speeds anymore (doubt it), the shutter release button was stiff, and tended to stick on use. I needed to improve that. So, last night, I took the lensboard off the camera again and cleaned the button shaft. Some xylene on a cotton swab worked fine.

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I added some Teflon lube to the tip of another swab and lightly coated the shaft. The button slides effortlessly now.

Next, on a tip from Patrick at APUG, I decided I’d try to improve the focusing screen with a coat of paste wax. I’d heard of this before, but honestly never tried it, and completely forgot it until Patrick mentioned it. Skeptical, I removed the screen. There are two small tabbed springs holding the screen in place.

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The springs are pressed down against the glass and twisted slightly to pop them out. They’re a little tricky to remove, but go in much easier.

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When the springs are off, the screen lifts out.

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Be very careful with the screen – it’s very thin, and very fragile. I cleaned the screen with Windex before applying wax.
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I applied wax to half the screen to see if there was any noticeable improvement first. Let the past dry a few minutes, gently buff, and see the results:

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The results are dramatic, but pose yet another compromise: The detail and brightness are vastly improved, and focus is very quick now. But there’s a distinct hot spot in the middle of the screen, which may yet hamper focusing. I stripped the wax off the screen with xylene (applying another coat would result in uneven transmission of light between the two sides), Windexed again, and applied a light coat of wax. I’ll shoot with it for a while before I make a final decision.