Brownie's seemingly never-ending saga

Brownie

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SE Michigan
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Tim
I've posted the Model AA and a-four repairs and cleaning. There have been many others that have gone undocumented for no particular reason other than laziness.

I had purchased this beautiful late '47/early '48 Argus 21 Markfinder a few months ago and set it aside. This camera intrigued me because of the viewfinder, which was the result of optics research during WWII. Like most manufacturer's Argus was tapped to make sights for tanks and artillery, bomb sights, spotting scopes, etc. for the war effort. They also made cameras for military reconnaissance and provided cameras for soldiers to buy at the PX. An awful lot of photos brought home were made on Argus cameras. This was their first new camera when they returned to consumer manufacturing after the war.

The Markfinder isn't a rangefinder camera, but it's more than a point-n-shoot. You can focus based on estimated or measured distance, set the aperture, and shutter speed. The viewfinder is unique. Rather than try and explain, here are couple of pages from the owners manual. Credit to orphancameras.com for the manual.

Mark 1.JPG
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Mark 2.JPG
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Kind of convoluted but also pretty cool. I started with this camera doing the typical stuff. Remove and clean the lens, clean up the outside, clean the shutter blades. The leatherette covering was starting to peel at the corners so it was re-glued and the leather treated. So after all of that it looked good and functioned well, but the viewfinder was dark and dirty. Cleaning the outside of the viewfinders and the ground glass for the mark projection didn't help at all, the dirt was inside. If you look at the diagram there are three lens/mirror surfaces accessible without disassembly, and eight that you can't get to. That's a lot of surface for dirt to collect on. After the success of the a-four, I decided to dive deeper than ever before. Armed with a diagram, some advice, and a few cautions from members at the Argus collector's group, I removed everything needed to get access to the mirrors and lenses.

Mark Parts.jpg
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Mark open.jpg
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The bezels that trim out the viewfinder and markfinder lens fell out and had to be glued back in place. The double lenses at the front were held in with a clip of sorts, and almost fell out. Lastly, the coating on the semi-silvered mirror is delicate. Too much rubbing and what was a translucent mirror becomes a piece of glass.

Putting it back together was pretty easy with the exception of that little black switch on the top. It allows you to choose different settings for flash sync. It is trapped in place between the body and the cover and is spring loaded. Took at least 45 minutes and a half dozen tries, with the spring shooting across the room twice and the switch lever once. There may have been some colorful language involved, I don't recall for sure. Still, it was eventually reassembled and the viewfinder is now bright and clear. Another one ready for film.

Mark Back.jpg
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Mark front.jpg
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Joined
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Jan Steinman
I've long been fascinated with partial-light viewfinders.

Olympus even put one in a digital. (E-1? E-10? Can't remember, but I had one!) Canon had the "Pellix."

Of course, the flip side of stealing light from the lens path is that less light strikes the film or sensor. I seem to recall the Olympus non-mirror digital was rated ISO 64, when other contemporaneous digitals were ISO 100.

But the other flip side is that the viewfinder NEVER goes dark, even during long exposures, and there is NEVER any mirror-slap vibration.
 

Brownie

Mu-43 Hall of Famer
Joined
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SE Michigan
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Tim
I've long been fascinated with partial-light viewfinders.

Olympus even put one in a digital. (E-1? E-10? Can't remember, but I had one!) Canon had the "Pellix."

Of course, the flip side of stealing light from the lens path is that less light strikes the film or sensor. I seem to recall the Olympus non-mirror digital was rated ISO 64, when other contemporaneous digitals were ISO 100.

But the other flip side is that the viewfinder NEVER goes dark, even during long exposures, and there is NEVER any mirror-slap vibration.
Sony did something similar with their STL line.
 

Brownie

Mu-43 Hall of Famer
Joined
Sep 3, 2018
Messages
3,547
Location
SE Michigan
Real Name
Tim
Up next is this 1942 A3. I received it for free from a guy who had bought it in a lot of cameras and didn't want it. Someone had removed the front covering and used some kind of contact paper with a skull motif. Lots of crud and dirt. The Exposure calculator on the back wouldn't turn at all and the adjustment rings on the lens for focus and aperture were stiff.

By the time this first photo was taken the top had been removed, all of the internal glass and extinction meter cleaned and the top replaced. The lens was removed and all of the glass taken out and cleaned along with the shutter and aperture blades.

51135441111_5d9cccb3f8_b.jpg
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P1062090 (2) by telecast, on Flickr

I used paper and spray adhesive to make templates for the covering. They were cut slightly oversized then applied with contact cement. An Exacto knife did the final trim in-situ.

51136548700_19a212a7fe_b.jpg
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P1062094 (2) by telecast, on Flickr

51136547660_b62878b4e9_b.jpg
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P1062096 (2) by telecast, on Flickr

Turned out pretty good. I should look so good when I'm closing in on 80! This is a sexy camera. I love the lines on it, very futuristic for 1942.

51136217344_e9434597fc_b.jpg
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P1062105 (2) by telecast, on Flickr
 

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