Realigning Raskolnikov

I’ve owned my Ukrainian super-ultra-wide film camera, my Krasnogorsk ФT-2 that I’ve nicknamed “Raskolnikov,” for approximately five years.  I don’t use the camera as often as I want to, but when I use it, I like what it does.

So I’m preparing for this big November photo shoot in which I’ll use as many of my cameras as I can assemble, and Raskolnikov’s going to be one of those cameras.  Even though I haven’t used the beast in two years.

So I opened the camera up and checked its insides.

And it looks like I have to do some age repair on this thing.

These Soviet swing lens cameras have one f-stop setting – F/5, which is fine if you’re shooting with super-slow ISO 25 Svema film.  But not when you’re shooting modern American film, which is set for a higher ISO.  To countermand this, I placed black electrical tape over most of the internal aperture of this camera, only allowing a tiny open slit on the mechanism.

But in the past two years of this camera’s inactivity … the black electrical tape fell off.  If I didn’t check this camera prior, I would have taken it out to this major November shoot – and would have received rolls of over-exposed, clear-film-and-nothing-else images for my efforts.  Not acceptable.

So … it’s time to do some work.

Find the black electrical tape.

Re-apply it to the internal swing mechanism.

And test out the unit once again.

I loaded it with some Ektachrome Dyna 100 that I had laying around the house, and drove up to Gansevoort to photograph a railroad overpass.

The camera has only one aperture, but it does contain four shutter speeds, all controlled by internal braking wheels.  I tested all four shutter speeds – ISO 400 (no brakes), ISO 200 (right brake), ISO 100 (left brake), and ISO 50 (both brakes).  The slower speeds showed levels of banding – slight wobbles when the camera’s swing lens and the internal brakes weren’t completely synched.  I can’t have wobbles in this photo shoot.

Luckily, the ISO 400 image – the camera’s fastest, with no brakes needed – gave me a decent shot.

And for the first time in two years … Raskolnikov is back in action.

Gansevoort Bridge. Krasnogorsk ФT-2 camera, Kodak Ektachrome Dyna 100 film. Photo (c) Chuck Miller, all rights reserved.

This is a “down and dirty” photo, it’s not competition-worthy.  But it is an attempt to make damn sure that when this November photo shoot kicks in, Raskolnikov will be as ready as necessary.

Let’s see.  Nikon Df camera is ready, my Nikon EM dual-image experiment is ready, Raskolnikov is ready … all I have to do now is dust my Kodak Medalist II (“Kodak Red”) out of mothballs, give my Rolleiflex and my Leica M3 (“Leica Green”) a run-through, maybe just maybe find a way to get my AGFA Clipper Special f/6.3 in the mix, and …

I’ll be ready.