120folder.com          Certo Super Sport Dolly

The  Certo Super Sport Dolly is a 120 film folding camera, a part of the series has a coupled rangefinder, 6x6 and 4,5x6 format, built from about 1934 to 1944  by Certo Kamera-Werk in Großzschachwitz near Dresden.

The Certo Super Sport Dolly shown has a coupled rangfinder, most probably built in 1937 and it's a C series model as it has a rewind knob. I bought a second one with a 4.5 x 6 film mask. It's an A model, you will find some pictures at the very bottom of the page.

Size (mm): 148 x 101 x 46
Weight:  775 g
Lens: Schneider Xenar 2.8/75, closest focus 1,2 m
Shutter: Compur, B T 1 - 1/250, F 2.8 - 16
Finder: coupled rangefinder, separate viewfinder
Film advance: semi-automatic, first frame via red window

Here are some photos of the camera. There is a short introduction to the use of it and how it feels at the bottom of the page.

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Camera front closed. Top: viewfinder window, rangefinder window, rangefinder viewing window. Bottom: film advance knob,
opening button and film rewind knob.

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Seen from the back. On top: rangefinder viewer and viewfinder viewer. In the middle: depth-of-the-field table on flap.

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Flap open: 2 red windows for 4,5x6 format (in the old days film only had numbers for 6x9 and 6x6, so you had to advance the number for 6x9 to the first and then to the second) and one for 6x6. White plastic sheet to take notes with a pencil, erasable.

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Camera front open, it opens sideways. Speed setting ring above around the lens, aperture setting below. to the left: up: shutter cocking lever, down: shutter release lever. under the lens: setting lever for film and single sheet. Setting is "F" for film.

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Seen from above (rangefinder housing), camera open. 


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Right side, camera open. From front (lens): shutter cocking lever, self timer, focusing lever, lens/shutter unit release lever. Top: film advance knob.

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Seen from the bottom, camera open.
Around lens: cable release socket, flash socket. Camera body, from top: film advance, opening button, tripod socket film rewind knob.

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Lens/shutter unit released. There was a Plaubel tele lens available and an extension tube for macro photography.


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Lens/shutter unit rear view.

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Camera back open.

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Film chamber. The film plane is changed as a whole unit, including the little rollers, for changing the format.

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Sheet film accessories in their original box: 3 sheet film holders, numbered 1 to 3, ground glass with hood.

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Back flap unit deposed.

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Ground glass installed, hood closed.

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Focusing hood open.

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Magnifying glass for ground glass swiveled. As you can see, it helps a lot.

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Single sheet holder installed.

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Lever under the lens in "P" position, for single sheet (=Planfilm), to compensate film plane position.

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Viewfilder has markings for 4,5x6 format.

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Film advance, simple, but efficient. Having advanced the film via the red window to "1", you lift the advance knob and put the number "1" at the index mark. After each photo you make one full term plus the way to the next number (except 11 and 12, where it's less than a full term, the roll being thicker). Works like a charm.

Handling a Certo Super Sport Dolly is easy, it's like other folding rangefinders. Loading film is as usual. The upper pegs are held by springs, so you can push them easily. Open the camera back, retract the winding knob and put the take-up spool into place. Same procedure for the film spool. 
Check whether the rewinding mecanism isn't engaged, lift and turn a bit clockwise to disengage. Insert the film paper backing into the take-up spool and advance it using the knob until it's well engaged. Close the camera back. Open the red window and advance the film via the advance knob until the red window shows "1". Lift the advance knob and put the number "1" at the index mark. After each photo you make one full term plus the way to the next number (except 11 and 12, where it's less than a full term, the roll being thicker). It's that simple. I don't know why other camera makers didn't use the same system.

Open the camera.
Cock the shutter, set speed and aperture. Set focus via the focusing lever. Turning the lever to closer distance moves the lens out. Action the shutter release lever. That's it. To close the camera, set focus back to infinity, press the hinges of the struts as usual, it will fold easily. Turn the film advance to the next number.

This camera even has a device to rewind film if you change mind in the middle of the roll. Lift the film advance knob and turn it a small amount counter-clockwise. It will stay disengaged. Turn the rewind knob in the direction of the arrow to respool the film. The notepad in the back flap is handy to note the number to which th film has to be advanced again, when reinserted.

For single sheet photographs take off the usual back flap, there is little spring-held lever which releases it. Put the grond glass instead. Open the camera, set the lens unit to "P". Focus on the ground glass. Swap the ground glass against the single sheet holder. Don't forget to retract the dark slide. Take your Photo. Put back the dark slide.

The lens/shutter unit can be retracted from the camera via a lever. There was a Plaubel tele lens with shutter for the camera. There was also an extension tube for makro photography on sheet film (ground glass focusing necessary)

The Certo Super Sport Dolly is a very nice and very sturdy camera, easy to use with roll film, with a good lens and shutter.
Its capability to use sheet film without a different back and to change the lens is quite unique for such a small camera (look at the Makinas, how big and heavy they are). It has well-thought details like the notepad and the lever to change focus between roll film and single sheets. Later models even had an extinction meter in the rangefinder housing. The camera must have been a photographer's dream in those days. To my opinion it is well under-estimated from a collector's point of view. I simply love it.

Ground glass repair:

The ground glass unit comes as a kit with 3 sheet film holders in a little box. The glass can easily break if you make a mistake when folding the hood, the space is very tight. So my camera came without ground glass. The ground glass is very thin, you may fit 1.5mm if you pay attention to the slit being well redressed. A ground glass of
a bit less than 1.5mm would be better. The size is 49 x 64mm on my camera. It was difficult to find someone to make it, but finally, on apug.org, I found Ian Grant, who has a small stock of old ground glass. He was so kind to make a new one for me, slightly thinner than 1.5mm, so it slid into its place easily. Thank you, Ian Grant.

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The holder with its new ground glass. Nothing to unscrew, you only have to slide the little lever to open the frame. You can see the tight space: the hood and the magnifying glass are squeezed against the glass.

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Frame open.

And finally, some photos of a A model:

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The A model has a folding viewfinder...

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...and no rewind device. The wind knob lacks the film advance numbers, a very handy device (see further above). It has however the nice back flap which can be replaced by the single sheet device.

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The rest is nearly identical, same lens, same shutter. The fucusing lever is a simle one, the shutter lever goes aroud the lens. You can press from both sides.

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4.5 x 6 cm film mask.

Certo Su.Sport Dolly775148 x 101 x 46CSemiAuto, RWSchneider Xenar 2.8/75 | 1,2Compur, B T 1 - 1/250 | 16g.glass, s.sheet, notepad, 4,5x6, 2nd lens

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