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120 RF Folders 120/220 Format Folding Rangefinders, including the various classic Zeiss Ikontas, Voigtlander Bessas, and their Ruskie copies.

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Changing lenses ?
Old 05-05-2012   #1
gliderbee
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Changing lenses ?

In general, the lens of a 120 folder is quite easy to remove: just turn the ring at the back loose and the lens "falls out".

Is it possible to put another lens in it if size fits (circumference of the back of the lens) ? E.g. I have a Zeiss Ikon Nettar with a Novar lens; not a bad lens, but could I put a Solinar lens in it, if it has the same external dimensions and the same focal length ? Would it also work with a coupled rangefinder ? Or could I interchange on the Apotar on a Agfa Isolette with a Solinar of same focal length ?

Thanks,

Stefan.
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Old 05-06-2012   #2
graywolf
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If the lens is the same focal length, actual not marked as the marked focal length is a nominal value, then if you can set it to focus on infinity the markings for distance and the rangefinder should work fine. Setting the infinity focus (indexing the lens) is the critical thing. If the lens is not the same focal length, say one is marked 75mm but is actually 72mm, and the other is marked 75mm but is actually 76.5mm, then the only focus that would be correct is infinity.

Now, some cameras can be adjusted, others depend on the lens focal length being within specification. Infinity can usually be adjusted with shims, but the rest takes some knowledge and equipment to do correctly.

That is a long winded way of saying, "maybe".

There is a repair forum here on RFF, you may be able to get more detailed and specific answers on it.
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Old 08-07-2012   #3
Tessar.
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I did this successfully with a 515 nettar. It had a Novar (f4.5) lens and I changed it for a tessar in compur rapid shutter. The only thing to note was that there is less room to collapse the lens in the nettar so I had to bend the shutter release lever a bit to engage with the body release of the nettar that the donor 520 ikonta body didn't have. The reason for doing this was that the 520 had a split in the bellows and it was easier to find another body to mount the lens on than replace the bellows. I used the compressed paper shims behind the lens from the ikonta and everything seemed to be ok for focus accuracy on the films I shot with it.
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Old 08-07-2012   #4
Tessar.
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Just one other thing, don't forget to extend the lens when inscrewing it as if you try with the camera folded the wrench will tear up the delicate lining of the bellows. With the lens extended, the lens wrench set from microtools is long enough to undo the lens even on the 6x9 ikontas.
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Old 08-08-2012   #5
chippy
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all the above replies are correct. I'd just add to that it can be relatively simple thing to do, on occasion! no one should buy a folder with the idea of swapping out the lens with another unless they have that experience of knowing what fits and what doesnt, 99%of the time it will be money down the drain...


in addition to taking in actual focal lengths as mentioned by GW, there is the shutter specifications to consider, diameter (inner), thickness and thread , their not all the same, even on all, say 6x6 folders

obviously swapping lenses between the same model camera is the easiest option (not always, e.g even agfa isolettes can be difficult, some have 75mm lens other models of different years have 85mm, the lens standard is in a different position and doesnt allow swapping easy at all!), then between cameras of same design but different countries, e.g russian or Japanese copies of german cameras, then between cameras of the same make and similar build is usually easiest. sometimes cameras of different makes (e.g welta and balda and many others, some generic/distributor brands) swap quite easy but you have to know or get lucky with the lens and shutter combos

also the bezel on the front of the lens (that might have a scale on it- for scale focus lenses) doesnt always want to fit into a different shutter (some shutters have built up front panels) or if it does it might hinder the closing of the camera (some bezels can be quite large).

in some instances you find it easier to swap the lens and shutter together (assuming its the right size shutter-not all 6x6 or 6x9 use the same size shutter comparative to their size) but then you may well have a problem with shutter lever being the same or in the same place as the original, even if the shutter (and its markings) are exactly the same model that might be the single difference, you would then have to dismantle the shutter and replace the shutter actuation lever (easier said than done).

some lenses and or shutter combos can be swapped with TLR cameras of similar years, even some TLR's lenses and or shutters from later years will fit folders with good results (some have wider coverage which equates to sharper images, less fall off to the edges) but the same caveats apply. swapping lenses can give you an interesting combination, Heliar into a Welta Weltur is an expensive option but is easy with a good result, quite a few others are good too, but it is a s l i p p e r y slope to want to swap lenses ..

i dont avocate it, better to keep it original, buy another identical would work out cheaper in most instances...it might sound like i do it all the time but thats just because i mucked around with heaps of them, you get to know whats fits what and sometimes i like to compare lenses so i swap them around and then put them back, usually its easier to put them into a folding plate camera to test comparisons

cheers
chippy
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