Author Topic: DMR "Congrès" view camera  (Read 835 times)

Airy

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DMR "Congrès" view camera
« on: August 25, 2020, 21:54:22 »
Dear friends, I'd like to introduce to you the first camera we had in our family. My great-grandpa (1868-1968, so we had the pleasure to meet on earth) had a bookstore, printshop, and also printed postcards he shot himself. His postcards from the WWI battlefields around Verdun are widespread: he apparently produced 1/3rd of these, and they were sent around for decades, since "war tourism" attracted lots of visitors to Verdun, as still is the case today...

His first postcards date back to 1904. In his very long career, he had several cameras, and it seems that the first one he used is now in my possession.

The DMR (De Maria) "Congrès" was built from 1904 to 1908, so he probably bought an early copy. It traversed two world wars, complete with bag, shutter, plates, and two objectives. One of the objective mounting plates seems to be missing, as well as the tripod. However the bellows are in a good condition, and the cloth shutter too (while certainly needing calibration).

I guess there should be a special frame with ground glass for setting the focus : seems to be missing too. I plan to put the camera back into service with no modifications of course, and using photo paper instead of glass plates, thus getting direct paper negatives that I could scan and invert. That would be my nod to the pioneering Mr. Jean Édouard Martin-Colardelle.

About the two objectives : the longer one (FL around 25cm) is simplest, with an internal thread probably to mount plates pierced with holes of variable diameters (see 5th photo; front doublet removed), and a shorter one (FL around 20cm maybe) with a "modern" diaph, f/8 to f/64, and no clicks. The longer one shows some signs of cement alteration, making the lens edges look like something is broken inside, but should still be usable. The shorter one is pretty clean.

For reference, my ancestor's print shop was destroyed twice: in 1916 (German shells - that was in Verdun!) and again in the 2nd World War (not sure about where the bombs came from - probably those US flying fortresses scattering their stuff from high altitude, and hoping to hit the train station...). He rebuilt it twice, and formally retired around 1953, so one of his younger sons, then already 47, could finally take the business over...
Airy Magnien

Airy

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Re: DMR "Congrès" view camera
« Reply #1 on: August 25, 2020, 22:03:16 »
Small addition - the Mackenstein objective may well be a Petzval (with two doublets and a central aperture stop) used for portraits.
Airy Magnien

Ashlandish

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Re: DMR "Congrès" view camera
« Reply #2 on: August 26, 2020, 00:36:47 »
Wonderful you can hold that very tangible personal history, wonderful project--looking forward to the images you create...
Tim Becraft

Hugh_3170

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Re: DMR "Congrès" view camera
« Reply #3 on: August 26, 2020, 01:42:51 »
Airy, Alan Lesheim in Tasmania is having great success with using printing paper in lieu of glass or film negatives.  He has resurrected a number of older large format cameras.  PM me if you are interested and I can put you in touch with him.
Hugh Gunn

Erik Lund

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Re: DMR "Congrès" view camera
« Reply #4 on: August 26, 2020, 08:55:01 »
Thank you for sharing this historical family story! What a blessing to have the camera and lenses still in the family, good luck with the job of reentering it into service again, sounds like a perfect option to use photo paper!We have a small but very active camera shop here in Copenhagen that restore, use and sell similar old cameras, they are always very helpful, let me know if you need any assistance locally!
Oneofmanycameras.com
I would like to see some of his and your work in the future!
Erik Lund

Airy

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Re: DMR "Congrès" view camera
« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2020, 09:55:28 »
Thanks all for your support and suggestions. Unfortunately (fortunately, actually, given the troubled times) I have resumed my professional activities, so the photographic ones may suffer some delay, but they will take place for sure.

Yesterday I cleaned the optics. Many arrangements and checks will have to take place before I make the first shot, e.g. I need to set up a small dark room in my cellar, find screws to mount the smaller (Tessar ? Aplanat) lens, check the bellows, replace the missing knob that keeps the rear plate in place after focussing, find some sort of replacement for the ground glass plate, find a tight lens cap that will act the shutter...
Airy Magnien

Jacques Pochoy

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Re: DMR "Congrès" view camera
« Reply #6 on: August 26, 2020, 18:59:53 »
Great family story and historical artifact  :)
My own family view cameras are alas in another part of the family but apparently nicely stored (usual breakdown in heritages after a few generations)! The two wars, especially in that region, makes one wonder how we still find wonders in our old attics  :o

For the ground glass, I did find a practical replacement (when younger) by using a frame with a polyester tracing paper (architectural and artist shops). polyester doesn't wrinkle with hygrometry and makes an effective ground glass (much lighter)...

I hope you'll be able to share your progress in time... Passionnant 8)
“A photograph is a moral decision taken in one eighth of a second. ” ― Salman Rushdie, The Ground Beneath Her Feet.

Airy

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Re: DMR "Congrès" view camera
« Reply #7 on: August 26, 2020, 21:54:15 »
Thanks Jacques ; as a matter of fact, I already considered "calque" as a possibility, but was not aware of those modern polyester versions. I'll ask my daughter to get me some in the course of her next shopping spree. By the way I suggested her to become an architect, but she went another way ;)

The camera survived WWI because my great grandpa took it with him as a refugee in Domats (Yonne). Proof is, I got some family shots from that time, including his nine children (and, towards the end of the war, with two of them wearing the grey/blue uniform. Fortunately, they were not hurt - just lost everything they left back in Verdun).
Airy Magnien

Airy

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Re: DMR "Congrès" view camera
« Reply #8 on: August 26, 2020, 21:59:31 »
Look not in my eyes, for fear   
  Thy mirror true the sight I see,   
And there you find your face too clear   
  And love it and be lost like me.   
One the long nights through must lie
  Spent in star-defeated sighs,   
But why should you as well as I   
  Perish? gaze not in my eyes.   
 
A Grecian lad, as I hear tell,   
  One that many loved in vain,
Looked into a forest well   
  And never looked away again.   
There, when the turf in springtime flowers,   
  With downward eye and gazes sad,   
Stands amid the glancing showers
  A jonquil, not a Grecian lad.   

... one of those wonderfully sad poems by A.E. Housman.

I could not help thinking about it when shooting the iris of the old Tessar Aplanat. Df, Nikkor 55/2.8 @f/16.
Airy Magnien

Airy

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Re: DMR "Congrès" view camera
« Reply #9 on: August 28, 2020, 07:18:17 »
Having done some web searches (no serious optical measurement so far), it looks like the lenses:
1) are both Aplanats (symmetrically arranged doublets),
2) the small one having a FL around 28 cm, which makes it a slightly wide lens in relation with 18*24cm plates.

I could however not find any documentation specific to the two samples so far. By the way, I found a photo of a similar objective with "rectilinear" engraved on its barrel though, and "rapid rectilinear" was another designation for "aplanat".

There is no EN Wikipedia page for "aplanat", but you will find pages in FR and DE, among others. In EN, the page is under "rapid rectilinear".
Airy Magnien

Airy

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Re: DMR "Congrès" view camera
« Reply #10 on: August 28, 2020, 22:30:36 »
There it is, assembled and operational (but for the shutter). The bellow is in a perfect condition, and the front plate shift and rear plate translation mechanisms are fine, nothing got warped.

I put a sheet of tracing paper, following Jacques Pochoy's tip, instead of the missing ground glass plate.

The shot is our dining room. I simply shot the tracing paper using the Df + 55/2.8, thereby making ends meet - my great-grandpa's 116 years old camera and his grandson's favourite DSLR. Feels good.
Airy Magnien

Jacques Pochoy

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Re: DMR "Congrès" view camera
« Reply #11 on: August 29, 2020, 01:38:44 »
Bravo... ;D
“A photograph is a moral decision taken in one eighth of a second. ” ― Salman Rushdie, The Ground Beneath Her Feet.

John Geerts

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Re: DMR "Congrès" view camera
« Reply #12 on: August 29, 2020, 07:07:29 »
Great story, Airy.  And a successful experiment !

Fons Baerken

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Re: DMR "Congrès" view camera
« Reply #13 on: August 29, 2020, 09:05:24 »

Akira

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Re: DMR "Congrès" view camera
« Reply #14 on: August 29, 2020, 10:31:33 »
There it is, assembled and operational (but for the shutter). The bellow is in a perfect condition, and the front plate shift and rear plate translation mechanisms are fine, nothing got warped.

I put a sheet of tracing paper, following Jacques Pochoy's tip, instead of the missing ground glass plate.

The shot is our dining room. I simply shot the tracing paper using the Df + 55/2.8, thereby making ends meet - my great-grandpa's 116 years old camera and his grandson's favourite DSLR. Feels good.

How nice!  This is literally the camera obscura of digital age.  Love the image, too!
"The eye is blind if the mind is absent." - Confucius

"Limitation is inspiration." - Akira