Saturday, March 24, 2012

Fujipet Maintenance

In my ongoing effort to republish my now defunct Fujipet site, here are the pulling apart and putting back together pages! Well, mostly pulling apart, but just read it backwards to put the camera back together.

So you finally found a Pet, and you're aching to use it. But, wow, is it dirty! These cameras are old and probably haven't been used for quite awhile. The first task at hand is to give it a good cleaning, inside and out. To clean the grime on the outside surface, I just use window cleaner and a Q-tip, and some paper towels for wiping up. You can clean the outside without pulling the camera apart, but you will find quite a few places where dust and dirt likes to hide that you can't reach otherwise. Canned air is also useful, but you are really going to give everything the once over manually. The canned air can be used later to keep the dust to a minimum.
One of the nice things about the original 120 Fujipet is that it is very easy to break down for cleaning and maintenance. Many toy cameras are all plastic and glued together. The Pet is a whole of its parts, and almost every part can be removed and put back together again. And, most parts can be swapped between Pets. The red Fujipet that I now use most often is made up from the best parts of two different cameras. I was a bit nervous the first time I pulled one apart, but it ended up being very simple. There are a few parts in the shutter that I don't want to mess with, but I will show you as much as possible and what to do with it all.
You need few tools to break a Pet down. A Fujipet is, of course, a necessity. A set of small screwdrivers is all you really need. I picked up my set of screwdrivers at a hobby store. This is the lucky Pet that is undergoing surgery. I am using my "extra" Pet, just in case. Not to scare you or anything.
The first step is to remove the back, which is as easy as unscrewing the bottom mount. Turn towards O to open. I assume C stands for close.

Inside, you can see the prongs on the bottom and the metal flaps for holding the roll film in place. These do not come out. They have little welded bits holding them in. The big screw for the tripod mount does not come off either.

The viewfinder is held by two screws on the underside of the top. These two screws can be accessed by sticking a long screwdriver through the hole in the screw at the bottom of the camera. Or you can use a small screwdriver and work at them from an angle. They shouldn't be very tight.
Be extra careful not to push on the clear plastic piece on the small end of the viewfinder, as it may push inward. If you do happen to push in the little plastic window, you need to try to glue it back in place through the screw holes in the viewfinder, which sounds extremely difficult and frustrating. The front chrome piece does come off, but you stand a very good chance of breaking it trying to do so.

Next off is the winder knob, which is held with a single screw, as you see above. It turns counterclockwise, the opposite direction of the arrow on the knob. You will find much dirt under these pieces. This is all that is holding the top cap on. This is all that can be removed from the body of the camera, except for the lens barrel.

The flash mount and the winding knob bolt do not come off. You also cannot remove the strap bolts on the side, though I'm told they have a tendency to pop off during use.
If you look closely, you can see a date stamp on the underside of the cap. Both of my cameras have one, and they are different enough that I can't decipher them for sure. I think this one was made in 1961. There is another stamp on the bottom of the camera under the plastic.
You can put these back together before preceding, but I like to keep them off so I don't scratch anything or push in the viewfinder by mistake.

The barrel is held in place by three screws (four on first generation Pets).
Be careful when lifting the barrel from the body, as it has parts that aren't attached by screws and such. The body is now naked and nothing else can be removed from it. This is the best time to give it a good cleaning. If the colored plastic on the body has peeled back in places, a little glue will hold it. I use rubber cement as it's easier to clean up and less likely to cause damage.

Here is the aperture shutter at its widest setting (11) and smallest setting (22).
The silver ring is attached to the aperture lever, which is hooked onto the inner mechanism makes this work. The aperture shutter is in a part of the camera I currently don't want to take apart, underneath the shutter, which we will see soon. The copper colored rings control the shutter.

If you feel the need to pull this apart, just remember that the ring for 2 sits below the ring for 1, looking at it as seen below. There is a little spring that hooks the two together. When together, they really only fit into the barrel one way, with the shutter levers fitting into notches, so you can't really put it back wrong. It may not work until you actually screw it back to the barrel, because the parts don't sit flush when out in the open like this, so don't worry if you can't make the shutter or aperture move. You probably won't ever need to pull these out, unless the camera doesn't work. Removing the barrel does make it easier to clean the front of the camera and the levers.

Next we want to remove the front lens piece. I suggest reattaching the barrel to the body. There are small parts on both sides, and if you have both ends of the barrel open, something is bound to fall out.
Removing the front may be the most difficult job. You need to turn the inside ring with your thumbs counterclockwise. It may be very sticky the first time this is done. I found that it wasn't so much the pressure you put on it (like opening a jar) as getting the proper angle of pressure. The first one I removed wouldn't budge, and then it just gave way, smooth as silk, when I found the sweet spot.

Unscrewing this ring allows you to remove the hood.

The lens piece lifts straight up and out of the barrel. It only fits one way, so it's easy to replace. The silver ring on the front of the lens plate is glued on.

A close-up of the inner workings of the shutter. Here you can see the shutter in it's resting (post snapshot) mode, and charged, or cocked, in the right shot. Note the plug for the flash at the lower left of the barrel.

To get the shutter plate out, lift from the side away from the flash sync plug. Early Pets have a small brass screw holding the plate in place.

The shutter plate. You shouldn't need to go this far unless something doesn't work or there is lots of gunk inside.

The lens plate is made up of a few parts. The lens is encased in a plastic ring, with another plastic ring that screws in place to hold the lens in place. You may want to remove this to clean the lens. The lens is probably supposed to come out, but mine was in pretty tight. The bulb switch just pulls out, but there isn't really any reason to do so.

The lens ring is supposed to unscrew, but may just pull straight out.

Did you happen to notice I said the lens is SUPPOSED to unscrew from the front mount? Well, I don't see how it could have ever fit on this camera. The lens piece on this Pet is quite a bit smaller than the part it's supposed to screw into. So small that it just falls right through with space to breathe. I'm not sure if this is from swapping lenses with another Pet that may have been designed differently, or whatever, but it certainly doesn't screw into place. I'm told this is not uncommon. The only way to get the lens to stay in place is to get some electrical tape, cut it into a thin enough strip and wrap it around the lens once or twice, depending on how much space you need to fill. Then you just wedge it into the opening from the back until it looks straight.
This also offers an opportunity to mess with the focal length a bit. I think that if you keep the lens back further than it is supposed to be (which is pretty much flush with the front), you can increase your blur at the edges of your photos. You have about a quarter of an inch to play with. If you have more than one Pet, you can swap lenses that offer different results. I haven't tried it yet, but you can even give it an angle, which would probably give a blur to one side.

When putting the front back together, you just line up the bulb setting at the bottom. It only fits on one way. You can test to make sure the bulb setting is operational before screwing the ring back on. And don't forget to replace the hood!
It's easy to put back together at this point. You only have five screws to keep track of. Of course, the reason for doing all this was to clean each part. You may need some WD-40 or oil to lubricate the shutter mechanism. They get old and gunky and tend to stick. Just coat liberally with your preferred lubricant and wipe the excess off. Put her back together and go take some pictures!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

It's a Fuji Fotorama! FP-1 style.

Sorry I haven't been posting much this year, just dealing with writing weekly papers for a master's program. Makes it tough to want to write something else! But, here, now, I am. Previously I chatted up the Konica Instant Press, one of the few professional alternatives to the Polaroid 180/185/190/195 (I can't believe that was over a year ago). I have since sold the Konica, as I found it a bit too finicky and somewhat fragile for my tastes. There is one other camera to offer some competition for these cameras...the Fuji Fotorama FP-1 Professional. This camera has more information on the front of the camera than any other camera I've seen, I think. Throughout this article, I will occasionally compare the FP-1 to the Konica, as they are the two main alternatives to the Polaroid cameras, and more similar to each other than other instant cameras. And many who are looking for a somewhat rare alternative to a 180 or 195 will most likely look at these two cameras. There is also an excellent review of the FP-1 on

The Konica is from the 1980s, while the FP-1 was made around 1995. It was probably created as a proofing tool for professional photographers, and I believe that Fuji was not even making peel-apart film at that time (or maybe that had just started), so it would have had to use Polaroid peel-apart. This camera uses Polaroid Type 100 films, such as 664, 669, ID-UV, etc., as well as Fuji FP-100C, FP-100B, and FP-3000B. A couple more shots of the unopened camera, which is adequately compact...

One interesting thing about the design is the nice grip and handle on the side....but if you wanted to use a neck or shoulder strap, the camera would hang sideways. There are no other spots on the camera to clip anything other than on that side. So that would be a bit awkward. On the back we see that it is similar to the Konica in that it is basically a camera with an instant back stuck onto it, the instant backs you can get for other cameras. A Polaroid on the back of the Konica, a Fuji back on the FP-1. This is the same back that is used for the Fuji "Holgaroid" backs. Still, the Fuji backs are nice and allow for easy pull of all peel-apart films (Polaroid cameras do not like Fuji peel-apart sometimes).
The camera is opened from a button on the top.

When you open the camera, the lens doesn't come forward automatically.

Instead, there are clips on the bottom you press together to pull the lens and bellows out from the body.

The lens is 105mm, while the Konica is 110mm, and accepts a 40.5mm filter. The aperture is from 5.6 to 64, which is not as wide as the Konica, which goes from 4 to 64, while the 195 is 3.8. So it is probably less useful in low light, unless you are using a flash or 3000 speed film. Times are from B to 500. The Konica has a B and T setting. Cocking the shutter is done on the lens, same as the Konica, though the shutter button is on top of the camera and much more manageable than the Konica's button that is on the front cover. The Konica wins hands down for focus distance, with a built in macro of 0.6 meters, but the FP-1 is close at 0.8 meters, both much closer than the Polaroid 195's 1.2 meters.

The one thing that I found kind of odd on the FP-1 is the focusing method, which is a dial on the top back of the camera.

I thought that this would be a pain, but after reminding myself where to focus the first few uses, it became second nature, and is actually very precise. The Polaroid 180/195 uses the same focus method as every folding Polaroid camera, and it works but I've always found it to be a bit loose and not particularly precise.
When looking through the viewfinder, you see guidelines, one for infinity and one for the closest setting.

This do not move. When you focus with the Konica, the guidelines actually move in the finder so you always know where your edges are. So that's another nifty advantage of the Konica. Focusing is done in the small circle inside the finder, same as most cameras.
As far as size goes, it isn't small, but no peel-apart camera is.

Comparing it to the 190 and the Mamiya Universal, you can see that it is fairly large.

But since the FP-1 is mostly plastic, it is much lighter than the 190, and certainly a million times lighter than the all metal Mamiya body.
So the Konica does have some advantages over the Fuji, but which do I prefer after using both? I'd have to say the FP-1. It has a more solid feel than the Konica. The Konica bellows were paper thin, and while no bellows are free from the risk of leaks (I actually am pretty sure there is a leak somewhere in the FP-1 bellows), the Konica bellows were particularly weak. And I never really felt like I was enjoying using the was always doing something weird and it was awkward to shoot. The FP-1 feels natural in my hands, and has very comfortable grips on both sides of the camera. I was worried about the focusing dial, but it's really quite easy to use. I shot more packs through the FP-1 in one day than I did the entire year I owned the Konica. Price is similar, expect to pay anywhere from $700 to $1500 for either camera. The Fuji FP-1 is a bit easier to find than the Konica. It is newer and there were probably more of them made. You can find an FP-1 in like new condition, as I did, with very little trouble.
So, after all that, how does it shoot? I ran three kinds of film through it. First I did three packs of 664. Because I wasn't using a filter on it, I didn't want to waste my ID-UV and 669, so I wanted films that work well without the ND filter and were easy to control exposure-wise. I love 664 and it shot very well in the camera with its low contrast ways. Sharp yet soft at the same time. This was around 250 and f11.

In this shot, you see that even at 250 and f11, it still has decent depth of field.

Then I ran a pack of 100 Sepia, which is ISO 1500. I believe I shot these at 500 and 5.6. Odd film and sometimes difficult to work with, but still very sharp and did well in the camera.

Since I didn't want to use my ID-UV but wanted color in the camera, I ran a couple packs of Type 108, expired January 2000. This film is always very blue and is sometimes limited in its uses because of this (and the fact that it overexposes super easy), but it worked surprisingly well in the FP-1. I always look out for reds because it is about the only color that shows up, with everything else being blue. The shots came out nice and sharp and seem to work much better than in the 190. Which is good because I have a couple cases of 108! So now I have a camera that I like to use that produces decent results with the finicky film. Overall, I think the FP-1 produces sharper images than the 180 and 195, though not as sharp as the Mamiya Universal with the 50mm lens.

So, there is is, the Fuji Fotorama FP-1! I like this camera and plan on using it as my alternate instant peel-apart camera when I go out and shoot. I am running out of Polaroid cameras to talk about! I guess I will have to move to some of the cheaper cameras at some point. Still going to talk about the Bronica S2 series soon. Until then!