Jan 31, 2009

Corfield WA 67 - Photo Gear (3)


Tonight I wish to talk about, and show you, my beloved "Cory".

My last post was entirely shot with this "little lady", and a little research on the Internet will quickly show you that they are not so much common.

Beeing a relatively unknown brand nowadays, at least outside of United Kingdom, I think that it justifies that I try to make a short introduction about Corfield. The experts and collectors will certainly excuse any possible incorrection on my part.

As far as I can say, it was a camera created by Sir Kenneth Corfield. Sir Corfield started his photographic business with his wife Betty and his brother John. They first began by producing an enlarger exposure meter, called the Lumimeter, wich sold 5.000 units during the year 1949. With the success of the Lumimeters, thoughts naturally turned to further products. So they brought out a precision rangefinder, the Telemeter, for focusing still and cine cameras.
Some more products soon followed, like a new version of the Lumimeter, the Optical Exposure Meter, the Corfield Masking Frame, the Corfield 5x4 inches Contact Printer, and, in 1952, the Corfield 2x2 slide projector.

No, I am not so old that I can remember all this stuff. I just looked it up on this site, and found it appealing to put some additional information here. I suggest that you read the whole story on the link I provide. Very good reading if you care about camera development history.

The part that I find most relevant for this post, is that Sir Kenneth Corfield also started developing his own line of cameras, the Periflex, first introduced to the public in the January 28th,1953 edition of Amateur Photographer.
Other models followed, and 1960 saw the appearance of the Corfield 66, making twelve exposures in 120 film.

Then one day Sir Corfield designed a camera called the Architect, that subsequently must have led to the model I am talking about here: the Corfield Wide-Angle 67 Perspective-Control.

I ordered this apparatus in 1995, together with a Gandolfi Precision 8x10 inches. By that time Sir Corfield was also associated with Gandolfi Cameras. The two brothers Gandolfi had decided to retire, and sold the company to Mr. Brian Gould.

Sadly, Mr. Gould is deceased some years ago. He was a very kind and helpful person having the patience of sending me countless faxes elucidating all my inquiries and trying to fulfill all my wishes.
A really nice and competent gentleman. I was lucky to meet him one day at Photokina. May he rest in peace.

Corfield WA 67 + 47mm f5.6 Schneider Super Angulon

As you can see on this side view, this camera is kind of a multinational tool: a german lens, a british shift-body, and a 6x7 japanese revolving back from Mamiya, with the Mamiya 67 Pro S roll-film holder giving ten exposures per 120 roll. Actually the same back and magazine you find in the Mamiya RB cameras.

Please notice that the optical system is not interchangeable! In these photographs, the lens is fitted with a center-filter, for the correction of physical light fall-off in the corners of the image.

That somewhat strange device on top of the camera, is an optical finder, to help you compose the image. This finder sits in a shoe which is coupled to the lens movement by an internal cam mechanism. It follows the lens movement by tilting to show the field of view covered by the lens.

In this position (image above) the camera is "looking straight", no perspective control movement of the lens is applied.

(By the way: the camera is not yet ready to shoot, as I didn't remove the dark slide...)

Now imagine that I am in Paris, and I want to photograph the entire Eiffel Tower from not very far away.

What I must do? Right: keep the camera leveled, with the film plane absolut parallel to the vertical axis of the construction. And I shift the lens upwards, so that I can include the top of the tower in my photograph, of course.

Just as simple as that!

The lockable knob you see protruding from the camera front, just below the lens, controls the raising and lowering of the lens by 19mm (0,75in) each way. While keeping the film plane parallel with the subject, one avoids converging verticals. Eiffel Tower won't be looking like the Leaning Tower of Pisa!

(That is, if I don't forget that dark slide...)

In the meantime, I got to the top of Eiffel Tower and want to make a panoramic view of Paris.

Do I point the camera down and shoot away? No!

No, if I brought along my trustful Corfield, and if I want to keep the surrounding buildings and constructions straight.

I just shift the lens down, so that I can include more foreground in my field of view and put the horizon line somewhere in the third upper part of my image. Half of Paris is at my feet now...

Observe that I have rotated the back to landscape format.

(And this time I didn't forget to pull the dark slide...)

Normaly I don't use the finder and use the ground-glass focusing screen instead. Using a focusing loup, it better allows me to control composition, depth-of-field at a given aperture and possible vignetting caused by the decentring of the lens.

The 6x7 format is covered even at full aperture, but if you employ movements, depending on how much you rise or lower the lens, you have to use smaller apertures, increasing the coverage progressively until a circle of 123mm is covered at f22. The rising and falling scales on the camera show clearly the recommended maximum aperture when a given displacement is used.

This is the scale that you see on the first image of this post. In that situation, the scale shows that you would have to close the aperture to f11, if you wanted to use that lens displacement. Otherweise you would have dark corners on the upper top of the image.
I find the scale to be very accurate and useful.

If you rise or lower the lens to the maximum, you need to close the aperture to f22. I think that in this case lens diffration is still very tolerable and doesn't affect yet lens sharpness very much.
I feel that somewhere between f11 and f16, you attain optimal optical perfomance. That's the apertures I prefer to use if I don't need a lot of displacement.

The 47mm Schneider Super Angulon consists of eight elements in four groups. It is multicoated and is almost symmetrical in construction and is free from distortion, even in close ups.
The lens is mounted in a smooth and engraved focusing mount with depth-of-field scale. Shortest focusing distance is 0,5m (1,6ft).

When focused on 3m (10ft) the depth of field extends from 1,5m (5ft) to infinity at f11.

(Pretty that Tesa Film...)

The beauty also looks good from the inside... Here you can better observe the british design: simple and very efficient.

No frills but lots of thrills!!!

The Corfield WA 67 was commonly fitted with a Prontor-Press shutter. I prefered to ask Mr. Brian Gould to equip my model with a Copal shutter.
I am very used to work with Copal shutters, as the majority of my large format lenses have such a shutter, and I find them to be very reliable.
In this way, I also have a better workflow when I use simultaneously the Corfield and a large format camera. That situation can happen very often, for example doing architectural work: I will use the large format camera for the exterior shots and the WA 67 for interiors.

I also asked Mr. Brian Gould to mount the Super Angulon with both scales on both sides of the camera, and not on top and below as it is common. In this way I don't have to climb over my Rimowa case, or crawl under the camera, to be able to see the scale. In a camera where you have to set everything manually, I find that it helps a lot on your comfort to do things the easy way.

For the very same reason, I would never mount that bubble level on top of the camera, but on the base. At least I would put a second one there, where I can see it easily.

In the 90's I was very intensively doing Architectural Photography. Mostly in 9x12 / 4x5". We did all the E-6 development in our studio, so It had to come to the point were I thought that I needed to simplify matters. E-6 development (color transparency) is not funny thing. It requires lots of care and accuracy. Minimal temperature deviations can cause catastrophic results. We used the relatively simple CPP2 Jobo processor, which involves lots of manual labour and attention. The amount of work didn't justify to acquire a more expensive, more automated machine. On the other hand, I didn't like to bring the transparencies to a professional lab, as we could better adapt the development times to my shooting style and necessities. We could just give some more or some less seconds on the first developer to compensate, we could just fine-tune it to our tastes...

Interior photography requires lots of bracketing, what drove the costs of sheet film very high sometimes. Very often I would do the same series of exposures with different filters to pick up the most pleasant results. Shots in dark places can become a nightmare with large format stuff. It also takes much longer to accomplish.

All that and some other reasons made me think that I should start to shift part of our production from large format to high quality medium format equipment.

I must confess that I first thought about buying a Hasselblad SWC/M equiped with the superb Carl Zeiss Biogon 38mm. As I had already other Hasselblad equipment, I could use the same magazines, and accessories. But it really bothered me that I could not use any lens movements with that camera, no matter how fine the lens, no matter how good the build quality.

For Architectural Photography, I find it of primordial importance to have the possibility of using lens movements!

So I kept looking for another solution. I don't even recall how I first knew about the WA 67, but I know that I quickly realized that it could very well solve my problems and meet my highest expectations.

After thousands of images I shot with the Corfield WA 67, I never regretted the choice I made.
Frequently it is the only camera I take along with me.

That's how much I trust my beautiful "Cory"!...



  1. Olá, td bem?
    Já tens mts rolos para revelar?
    Se um dia quiseres passar por cá, podes fazer uma sessão de revelação aqui no estúdio
    (Se eu o conseguir manter... A coisa não está fácil...).
    Abraço e boas fotografias

  2. I have one of these beautiful cameras which I may be interested in selling. 2 6x7 backs. Also a motorised 6x8 back & polaroid back. Anyone interested ?

  3. I used one of these a lot in the '90s, for all sorts of architectural/building photography. Wonderful camera! I used to hire it. Would love to find one to buy now

    1. I have a Corfield for sale, am based in West of Ireland. Please reply if interested

  4. Thank you for the nice review. I recently bought one of theses beauties and am still studying how to use it. Can not find any user manual on the net, pdf or print, at least not yet.