Vintage and Classic Cameras
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Foth Derby, 127 roll film folding camera, c1930

This Foth Derby is a delightful little German 127 roll film camera, that might be described as half frame, as it takes images across the film, 36 x 24 mm, the same size as a 135 or 35mm frame. Foth gave the name "Derby" to much of its range, but only the first Derby has this half frame size. The earliest appear to have folding viewfinders with a lens in the front and a back sight, changing to the folding tube seen on this example. The camera has a collapsing lens panel with small bellows behind, the folding mechanism is of the scissor strut type, ensuring the lens panel remains parallel to the film plane. The focal plane shutter, consists of two horizontally running cloth curtains controlled by a mechanism so advanced for its time that it would look familiar up to the 1990s. The shutter release is very light and smooth, via a button on the front. The cable release is unusual in that it needs to pass through the lensboard Shutter cocking and film advance are two separate operations and the shutter setting dial only indicates the correct speed when the shutter is cocked. Frame numbers are identified via the classic red window, except that each frame number is used twice, once in the first window, then again in the second. The camera is of mixed construction, an aluminium decorative lens panel is mounted on a pressed steel base onto which the scissor struts are mounted, the body consists of a composite aluminium shell, over pressed steel chassis, on top of which is attached the shutter mechanism mainly of brass, in turn protected by a tightly fitting spring steel cover. The manufacturing tolerances are quite fine throughout. Later versions (Derby I) took the the format out to conventional 127 3x4cm and added a self timer. Foth themselves died out but the design was adapted and lived on in France as the Gallus Derby Lux.

This particular camera was acquired using the adverts fund in March 2013, and was in poor and heavily used condition. In fact it has seen so much use the wear has been conserved as part of its charm. The camera was given a deep clean which entailed totally stripping it, to remove all traces of the disintegrating shutter curtain coating. The shutter curtains were beyond saving, and were just about good enough to allow patterns to be drawn up and new curtains made. Apart from that and a thorough clean, the camera was kept as it arrived. It's highly unlikely that many of these early rubberized cloth shutters remain serviceable today.

Foth Derby Vintage 127 Camera, c1930

Body No. No serial found
Shutter, Focal Plane, horizontal cloth curtain.
Lens, Foth Anastigmat, 50mm f/3.5
Condition, 6F

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