Newton New-Vue 5×4 Camera Restoration
When you buy a new camera, or even a used one, there’s normally a list of things that you’d like it to have or do. Do you want a film or digital camera, do you want it to have autofocus? Do you want it to do all the work for you and you just point it in the general direction of your subject and trust that everything will be ok? I took none of that into account when I bought this camera and relied purely on sentimentality.
For quite a while now, I’ve wanted to get a large format sheet film camera. Something to play with and spend real time taking photographs that have been planned meticulously rather than the current “something just happened – do it again when I’ve got my phone out” trend. The issue being that 5×4 cameras are not cheap, especially when it’s something that I may only get the time to use 3 or 4 times a year. For those not familiar with Large Format photography, the cameras use sheet film rather than on a roll. You take one shot at a time, reloading it between shots. They take an age to focus. They are unwieldy at best and heavy to carry around and you need a calculator to work out the exposure sometimes – not many come with any form of metering – certainly not the ones in my price range anyway!
So, why use one?
Because, on the occasions where you’re in the right place, at the right time, you get it set up and you get the exposure right, the results are just amazing. The quality that you can get from them is outstanding, but there’s more. It’s the thought that you did it all, every part of the process. It’s like the difference between buying a coffee table from Ikea and buying a load of wood and making a fantastic coffee table yourself. It’s more about the satisfaction for me.
So, on a recent trip to West Yorkshire Cameras in Leeds, I saw this camera. Sat on a shelf looking like it’d really had a life, I didn’t think too many people would be that interested in it and to be fair, at the moment, it’s not much to look at. I felt sorry for it. I bought a camera because no one else would and I felt sorry for it. On the way home, for some reason, I decided to call it Norah and the plans are already turning in my head for a full restoration project for Norah, to bring her back to her (just) post WW2 beauty.
Over the next couple of weeks I’m going to shoot a couple of shots to make sure the lens is good and sharp and that the timings are roughly about right and then over the winter, the restoration will begin in earnest. I’ll post updates as I go and hopefully by next summer, I’ll have a fully functioning AND beautiful to look at 5×4 camera.
The Newton New-Vue VC2 was manufactured in Los Angeles, USA, in 1947.