I have always liked the Robot cameras from O.Bering in Germany, oddities in so many ways, and still hanker for a Robot Royal full frame camera. In the meantime I have a couple of Vollautomats in pretty worn out condition, bought cheap at a close out sale of a shop. One has a complete lens, a Xenar 3.5 in tatty condition and the other a 2.8 Xenar five element, that has a missing front element!.
Both the bodies work OK and lenses fit via adaptors. The Vollautomat was meant to be an improved design and better made, but the earlier types always seemed OK. Robots in general are very well made, stainless steel body etc.
So I have just bought a Robot Junior body only on ebay, cheaper than usual, so must check out carefully. The Junior came in the early 1950's, and was a stripped down standard, simpler viewfinder etc, but took standard Kodak cassettes.
The real reason the Junior and early Robots were dropped and the Vollautomat done was the dropping of the maker of the spring drive, and Bering having to make the shutter themselves. The Robot was an example of several makers products assembled by the camera maker to create the product.
So now after a decent standard lens, and the prices are nasty these days, with clean examples very pricy, as they fit Micro 4/3 adaptors, and are perfect for digital coverage. In the meantime I have a Paxette fit Xenar F2.8 that fits via adaptor on the Vollautomats, so should fit the Robot Junior.
I've never owned a Robot, although a Robot is certainly on my wish-list. I did have Tessar one time, or maybe it was a Xenar, for a Robot, but I never found a body to go with it. I traded that away long ago for something I must have needed more at the time.
You have to allow for the quirks like loading the film into the robot cassettes, then recovering the film for slides to go to processors...and then they complain about 24x24 format, as do the printers....and allow for the strange looks as you take three or four shots at a go, and get odd looks as you wind up the clockwork....put up with vignetting with longer focal length lenses, and find only expensive retrofocus wide angles fit.....but there are advantages like being able to take a lot of lenses via adaptors...it even takes a mini Viso like reflex. Most of the oddities vanished with the Robot Royal 24x36, but have you seen the prices recently?
Post by belgiumreporter on Dec 4, 2014 8:29:45 GMT -5
NEVER buy a robot, leica or alpa without a lens. What may seem like a bargain, may become very expensive if you want a lens that fits. With four thirds and lots of adapters around everybody's out to buy classic lenses, while the bodys are being disposed off. Just have a look at leica lens prices, the only ones still within reason are the "useless" longer focal lenghts, there's no way you'll find a reasonably priced 50, 35 or shorter focal lenght. This goes for robot and alpa as well. Only recently i have been offered a robot body for a silly low price (i bought some other stuff from the seller) when we came to the subject of the robot he told me in all honesty he was selling it because he had it for years, hoping he would find a lens for it. turned out he was cheaper off buying a complete body and lens assembly, wich was what he did. I am Lucky all my leicas have lenses on them, sadly my alpa has not. I've found a adapter for the alpa to match it to some cheapo lens so at least the body is closed now, but i can't say i'm happy with it and i'm still waiting for a nice alpa mount killfit 50macro to come along wich hasen't happened for the last 30 years and i suppose will never happen either.
Just for reference, and good advice from Belgiumreporter.....
But the situation is not too bad with Robot, many decent lenses fit via adaptors, all M42 for a start, most reflex's lens with bayonets, Leica 39 screw, M, and Zenit 39, Paxette 39.
Oddly the one that has difficulty is Alpa to Robot, as the Alpa has a thin body and close film to flange register. They have to be two part adapters, the screw supports a thin ring that has the Alpa bayonet on it. The reason is the fouling between the speed dial and the extended release on Alpa.
The adaptors are difficult to source commercially these days, but can be made by using the appropriate M4/3 adaptor, machine off the m4/3 bayonet and add the robot screw. Strictly for engineers, but easy to make. Pentax screw to Robot screw are made commercially.
The 24x24 format is not a nuisance in the darkroom, and I have stored there a Meopta 24x24 enlarger, which has a 30mm lens, and adaptors for half frame, Minox and 16mm. Bought for a quid in a sale, it is smaller than the Russian suitcase model! In the period after the war Meopta developed several odd formats for sub miniature cameras.
A quick look through ebay Germany shows several standard lenses, and some from a shop in Berlin I have bought from before, and the price for the Xenar standard lens is not too bad. Mind you, also several Robot Royals at four figure prices! Stephen
Found the old Xenar Robot standard lens for the Robot Vollautomat bodies, it looks as if it still works, but has a cleaning marked front element. The Robot name bezel and the flat front have been painted with matt black paint.
When purchased the pair were said to be ex security and observation cameras, and the painted out front ties in with this, bank cameras had a disc added to the front to help hide the lens.
One of the Vollautomat's has had a failure of the main spring, and it is modified to operate as an ordinary camera, normal wind on each frame. It also came with a robot to 42mm adaptor.
The Robot camera arrived today in the post, and poses a small mystery.
It was listed on Ebay as a Robot Junior, introduced in 1954, which was a simplified Robot ll, dropping the dual viewfinder and adding a flash shoe(accessory shoe).
However the Robot that has come clearly has a Junior badge on the front, but has the top of a Robot ll fitted. It has the dual right angle finder, with lever on the top, and no accessory shoe, which cannot be fitted due to the dual finder. The general condition is indicative of a 1950's camera, and is excellent throughout. But the features make it a bit earlier and I suspect it was a bit of a special, O.Bering, the makers, were notorious for never making two camera exactly alike, and would always supply features to order if requested.
A lot of robot cameras were sold for ultra specialist use or in laboratory use, or to enthusiasts for wild life photos and sports use.
It has a genuine Robot leather case with it, and two Robot film cassettes inside. I will check further, but it seems to take Kodak cassettes on the delivery side, the same as the Type ll, but has no rewind system, which matches the Junior specification.
The quality of construction is superb throughout, with stainless steel parts, compact but heavy construction, quiet operation from the shutter, and reasonably quiet wind on! It winds up to 25 frames or half a film.
I have transferred the Xenar 2.8 standard lens from the Vollautomat Robot to the Junior, and I will test the lens out carefully.
Last Edit: Dec 11, 2014 14:36:28 GMT -5 by Stephen
On the face of it this camera is simply miss badged by Robot or an owner.
There's little reason for an owner to down grade a Robot ll to the slightly simpler Robot Junior.
The Robot ll was the standard model throughout the war, the Robot lla was a modified model to take Kodak cassettes, but without rewinding.
This model I have does not take Kodak, it uses the special pair of cassette, delivery and takeup. Also it has the single flash contact of the Robot ll.
It also has the adjustable twin viewfinder, a feature dropped on the Junior.
So we have a 1939 to 1954 Robot ll, with no accessory shoe.
The badge remains a mystery, it is clearly glued on, but this was common with Robot. As it is a Robot ll, it is in excellent condition! There is barely any wear or tear on the body at all, and the leather is in perfect condition.
It is not worth removing the Robot Junior badge, it may be bolted on through the leather as well as glued, and would leave a mark or hole behind!
So we have the more expensive version, albeit with the cassette restrictions, and having to load film in a changing bag. Hardly a major problem, as it will not be in daily use!
Read all the stuff on the net about Robot, including the German sites via Google translation, and the camera is very definitely the better model Robot II, and normally more expensive than a Junior! Equivalents sell for about £200 on Ebay, so why, Oh, why, is there a Robot Junior name plate on the camera? For a Robot II it is in very good condition indeed.