Using an OLD box camera?


No longer a newbie, moving up!
Oct 26, 2003
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Brisbane, Australia
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Here's one for the grey bearded folks out there :).

I have gotten an Eho Box-180 Linse camera to work specifically this one:

EHO-Box 180 "Linse"

Manufactured by Altissa before they were called Altissa (before even the war). The question is now how do I use it? The camera takes 120 film, has a fixed shutter and fixed aperture. Well doesn't have an aperture at all really it has a rear meniscus lens. Everything seems to be in working condition, but I have no clue about what kind of film speed this thing expects. Now I will assume it was made for taking photos outside. Altissa wasn't exactly a high end manufacturer, trying to sell cheap box cameras to the people.

Even if you don't know anything about this exact camera, can anyone point me to what kind of film speeds, shutter speeds, apertures or any other useful information exists about using cameras made in the 1930s? I really wouldn't mind putting a roll of film though this.
You can start with a roll of Plus X. Shoot in full sunlight, develop normally and then go from there. You'll probably be over-exposing a stop or two. Assume 1/50 and about f11 is a start.

It's easy to rig a yellow or orange filter to cut the exposure if need be. Or shoot on overcast days.
Or 3 or 4 stops. The only 120 roll I had was HP5 at ISO400 so I'll rig up a ND filter to cut that down a couple of stops.

Thanks for the assumed starting point, you may just have saved an entire roll of film :D
With cameras that don't allow much exposure control I like C41 BW. Although it's rated ISO 400 it'll make decent prints from ISO 100 to 1600 with standard C41 processing.
Cheers, but unfortunately I don't have the facilities to process C41 at home, and half the fun of film for me is the developing so I will probably steer clear of that one. I should be able to pull HP5 down to 200 without too many problems, and I may save this film.

By my reasoning, f/11 @ 1/50th is 4 stops under the sunny 16 rule for outdoor shooting. If I pull one stop in processing, and use a red filter I should end up pretty close to the right exposure. If it's all good I will probably load some Illford Delta 100 and pull that one stop next time around.
If it works like my Kodak Brownie. There are three steps involved to using it once your film's loaded.

1. Aim
2. Press button
3. Wind to next frame

I shot 400 speed (HP5+) for my first roll in my brownie and only one shot came out. The exposure was horribly wrong. Next roll was 125 speed (Ilford FP4) and the shots worked.
Thanks for the assumed starting point, you may just have saved an entire roll of film :D

I got quite a few full-sun shots on Tri-X 320 in New Mexico last August with an Ansco Shur-Shot Jr that's probably pretty similar in terms of exposure. I did pull them a bit, (1 stop, IIRC) and tweak things somewhat when I scanned them in, but everything was salvageable.

Not exactly an artistic masterpiece, but enough for a proof of concept:
I am not familiar with this particular box camera. but usually there is a small pull tab that will interpose a smaller apeture in front of the shutter. I see a pull tab similar to one on my brownie on the side just below the shutter lever on yours. Any B_W film under about ASA 100 should work.
Judge Sharpe
Ahhh so that's what that tab is for. Any idea roughly how many stops smaller the new aperture is?
The tab on the side is not for aperture. It is the bulb time thingy. Best to use iso 50 film if you want to shoot on bright sunny days. Otherwise iso 100 wil do nicely.
Shuttertime is about 1/30 of a second.
Great stuff to shoot with. Compsition is the only thing you have control over for the rest deal with what you get.



Ps sorry for a late respons.
The Eho Box has an aperture of f11 and it shoots 6x9 on 120 film.
My experience has been that the older cameras like slow film. You have to take into consideration, that at the time of the cameras manufacture, fast film didn't really exist. ISO100 would have been the hottest film money could buy.

That said, in my experience, stick to the slower films. Better films are also much more forgiving to proper exposure than cheap film as well. I recently exposed a roll of Portra 400 with a classic Zeiss. Exposure meter was telling me for example, f16 and 1/500. I exposed at f16 and 1/50th and still got a good exposure. Why did I overexpose like this? Well, because the shutter can't move any faster! Great color, detail, and VERY fine grain in every shot. We'll there was the one double exposure I made, but it doesn't count.

I prefer Kodak films, and use Portra 400 and Ektar 100 in all of my classic cameras. The slower speeds are more suited to the slower shutters of my vintage gear. Other manufacturers have similar offerings that work just as well.
Garbz, Don't own an Eho, but I am wondering from looking at a couple of photos of the same camera. Are you sure it takes 120 film spools or 620 film spools? From the pictures I looked at looked like it to me like it took 620 but like I said, I don't know. There are tons of 620 film spools on ebay for reloading 120 film onto if you find you need them.

For my old box cameras I like to shoot Ilford Pan F 120. ASA 50/DIN 18 film for sunny days.

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