After the recent purchase of the Foth Derby, another Foth, the mid 1930's Foth-Flex, complete with case from Ebay.
The Foth was unusual for a TLR, it has the same type focal plane shutter as the Foth Derby, and was one of the very few TLR's to have one. It took B type films, but 120 is the equivalent to them, so film can still be purchased unlike the 127 film for the Derby. Shutter is said to work, but may need attention, the TLR version lasted better than the Derby shutter. The Mechanism is a good design, but the cloth is rubberised and perishes. The Foth own branded lens were rated as good for the period. This is not quite the earliest version, it does retain the focus knob on the side, but appears to have a sports finder.
Last Edit: Aug 19, 2014 16:41:59 GMT -5 by Stephen
Camera arrived, in generally good condition, lenses look reasonable state, the mechanics work.
But, as often on the Foth Derby, the shutter has issues. At first it would not wind up, due to the cloth sticking, where repairs done long ago had stuck the cloth into a firm roll. The paint used was there to stop up holes in the cloth.
This jam has now cleared and the Foth focal plane shutter runs, but is not to the rated speeds.
The cloth and tapes are complete, and can be used as a template to make new blinds.
The camera works on everything else, delayed action, focus, and the auto frame spacing.
It has a dial and frame release, on the side that does the frame spacing after setting the window to the first number.
In front of the shutter unit is a lever release, or a cable release can be used. ! The film size is 6x6 B11 Zeiss or 120 roll film.
It has internal focusing, the lens panel does not move, as the knob is rotated the lens moves in and out, with the focusing one rotating and moving in and out. The mechanism is entirely hidden.m
The whole lower lens is twisted to set apertures.
The windows for the film numbers are covered with screw on nickel plated caps.The back hinges open to show a straight forward film track, with an extra roller to provide the frame spacer.
It is very substantial die-cast construction, and relatively heavy, far more than the Rolleicord. The parts are well made with nickel plate finish.
The flip up top is arranged the same as most TLR's,, with a magnifying glass to work with the screen. It does not have a sports finder on this example. The top has a depth of field and exposure table.
Needs a full clean and strip, along with the shutter serviced, I would think the lenses are OK, but need a good clean. Foth used better quality lenses than most makers. They are uncoated three element lenses.
The heavy duty leather case is original, and was made in the UK for Foth. It is top quality leather. Many German makers supplied British leather cases.
Definetly new blinds are needed, the old ones are very poor, along with the tapes, the shutter now runs though, and it is about accurate, but the cloth is dotted with marks and holes. There was an attempt to repair the second blind, but the black paint used had gummed up the second blind roll. The bearings and springs are OK, well made and now oiled etc. The delayed action works fine. I have not tested the automatic frame spacer as yet, as the rear window can be used instead, but there seems no reason it should not work.
But the blind cloth is past being patched, although I may try once, to be able to test out the camera, before further restoration work.
Generally the camera seems a better engineered job than the Rollei, a very great pity that Foth never developed it further.
It is not as easy as the Foth Derby, which is straightforward, it is the same design though, just stretched to cover 6x6. I have not taken it apart yet, but it appears to come out as a unit, with the side control panel. It is a conventional design, on sprung shafts, with second blind delay controlled by the mechanism in a similar way to Leica, but less complex. It is cocked and fired on it's own, the spacer release is operated after firing, it is not interconnected as far as I can see.
Apparently part of the objection to the focal plane shutter was the image distortion on moving objects, which did not happen with Rollei. The vertical movement made the distortion,(leaning shear), more noticeable than with the horizontal Leica, which squashes or stretches moving objects.
Foth adverts made a lot of the sports capabilities of the speed range, but the shutter did cause the skewing distortion that photographers complained about. Modern Focal plane shutters still have the issue, but the blinds move faster to minimise the effect, and few photographers notice the issue.
The 1936 Olympics brought the issue to the fore, the best sports shots were on leaf shutters generally, with focal planes blamed for distortion. Also motor sport shots were a real issue, a moving car was severely skewed by early focal planes, as the subject is in motion as the slit exposes the film, rather like a short series of shots on one frame. The result can look awful! Leica did not get much flack on the problem, as the blinds move faster, but 6x6 size or above were slow, with narrower effective slits.