Vintage and Classic Cameras
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Project 13, fettling the finickity Finettas.
Finetta IV 35mm camera

Okay, I confess, it was an excuse for a slightly contrived alliterated title. All the serviceable cameras are exercised periodically without a film in to keep things moving. The process had been neglected in recent times due to various moves but in January 2022, every camera managed to receive a test cycle. This revealed several that had seized. This Finetta IV's shutter would open lazily and refuse to close, being a simple thing it bounced to the head of the queue. It's also a camera that currently hasn't had a results gallery published for it, so really ought to be serviced for that attempt. In truth it has had a film through it previously, but was a failure.

Dismantled Finetta IV

The Finetta IV is delightfully simple to take apart, exhibiting some nice touches. Here the camera is completely stripped down to sub assemblies. The camera is based around a Bakelite thermosetting plastic body which whilst not unheard of for cameras is fairly unusual. It's all quite basic, even the lens mount thread being cast with the front panel. The shutter is a complete sub assembly that mounts onto the main body, the two shutter leaves are kept in place by the front panel. The Finetta's issue was just being gummed up, a good clean had it working nicely again. Care is required, not to be overly vigorous, as many of the parts are copper and easily bent. I just blew solvent through it to remove the old dried grease and dust.

The rear hatch that wraps right around to the front panel is not shown.

Finetta IV Shutter The Finetta IV shutter mechanism. All the pivots need to be clean and free running, blowing solvent under pressure sorted this one out, happily as it is mostly riveted together. The shutter is self energized, the action of depressing the release tensions the main spring. After sufficient travel the mechanism releases powered by the main spring giving the leaf mechanism a brief kick. The speed of the kick being determined by the degree of pre tension applied by the speed setting cam. This basic approach restricts the mechanism to three instant speeds of 25th, 50th and 100th sec. A separate closure spring returns the shutter leaves and the pivot is susceptible to dirt causing the shutter leaves to hesitate.
Fibetta IV Shutter in situ

After cleaning, the shutter sits back where it belongs. The shutter plunger needs to align with the shutter's activating lever correctly. The trigger point can be adjusted using a screw within the plunger.

Finetta IV viewfinder optics

A surprising little detail hidden within the Finettas IV's top housing are the viewfinder optics, isolated from shocks and sealed from dirt in a rubber mount shown here. There was barely a spec of dust to remove from inside. The rear element needs to be treated very carefully to prise it free though, it's delicate and likely easily broken.

Bakelite Body.

The main body and shutter mechanism cover/lens mount are made from a thermosetting plastic, often known under a trade name of Bakelite. Unlike thermoplastics that melt when reheated, thermosetting plastics do not. Well, within reason... if you throw a Finetta IV into a fire, whilst it won't combust and melt into a pool, it will burn to powder.

But its a decent material choice, it's dimensionally stable over a wide temperature range, moulds nicely to produce parts that require little or no finishing, can be machined or tapped, available pre coloured in black and is lightweight, all good attributes for a camera. On the bad side, it's brittle and prone to cracking if dropped and is shiny which can lead to unwanted reflections. Finetta Werk resolved these last two by wrapping the metal rear hatch around the sides, so that no Bakelite parts were likely to be hit directly and used a separate matt black insert to control reflections between the lens and film plane. Even the shutter cover received a metal surround to protect the corners.

Finetta ** shutter in situ

Out of pure academic interest, the Finetta 88 is shown here. The Finetta 88 is totally different, with a cast alloy body, but using a dimensionally identical planform. The shutter adopts the same mechanism but strengthened to permit speeds up to 250th sec. Our Finetta 88's shutter was exhibiting the same reluctance to close after release, a good clean also sorting it out. The trigger point was also adjusted making it much nicer to use than previously.

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