Koroll S in shiny aluminium

5 Frames with a Bencini Koroll S and KosmoFoto 100 – By Jeff Hicks

Many, many years ago, I shot film. I think I had a Zenit EM. There is a photo of me with it around my neck, but it’s too grainy to definitively see the make. After that camera was in stolen the mid eighties I never bought a replacement.

In the early noughties my late step-father left me his Nikon D100 and my passion for photography was reignited. Since then I have progressed to a D200, D700 and now the D850. I had forgotten about film, and all that process of waiting for weeks to get photos back from TruPrint and then wondering where the hell the photos were taken.

That was until last year when I was furloughed for a few months and bought the dream camera from my childhood, an Olympus OM1. Since then I’ve made up for lost time and bought quite a few 35mm and 120 cameras…

The latest one, and perhaps the oldest I now own is a 1950s Bencini Koroll S. It’s a lump of Italian aluminium that takes 120 film and it only cost a tenner.

It’s very basic, load the film, pull out the lens tube, guess the focus distance (6ft – ∞), click the shutter and wind on. It has an f/11 fixed aperture and the spring shutter is 1/50th second. You can pull out a little lever that allows bulb function but that involves guesstimating the exposure time.

The 6ft minimum distance is no good for selfies.

Self Portrait
Not suitable for selfies.

One quirk with the camera is that you can insert ‘baffles’ that change the 6 x 6 format to 6 x 4.5. Mine however, didn’t come with these, so cardboard, scalpel and steel rule later, I made my own baffles. Here it is with and without my homemade baffles:

Inside a Koroll S
Nice square format.
Inside the Koroll S
The Koroll S with homemade ‘baffles’

16 shots later and I can see I’m not going to be taking award winning photos with this camera. Being wholly reliant on the available light is pretty tricky, but here are five taken on KosmoFoto 100 120 film and developed in Rodinal 1+50 for nine minutes.

I might be able to get sharper pictures but the following photos show that the lens might not be the sharpest in the world – it does make the photos look as if they were taken 70 years ago though.

Photos from the Koroll S


the beer store

I intend to ask a friend of mine with a 3D printer to see if he can ‘print’ the baffles. In the meantime, I’m going to leave them out because, last week, some 120 to 35mm adapters arrived. I fancy trying some 35mm film in it and seeing if I can make some ‘panoramic’ pictures with sprocket holes in them.

The Bencini Koroll S is an odd, fun camera… I doubt it’ll replace my Nikons…

Thank you for looking.

I have two websites in production, filling them is slow as most of my spare time is taken up as I am a volunteer coastguard. One is for new photographers to get a little help www.j3ff.co.uk and the other is a showcase for my work www.lightsauce.co.uk

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6 thoughts on “5 Frames with a Bencini Koroll S and KosmoFoto 100 – By Jeff Hicks”

  1. It may do quite nicely with the 35mm film, as the film travel is L-R… this means that the writing on the edges of the film will be the right way up. I quite like to use cheap film for 35mm pans in medium format cameras, as they tend to have less writing on the sprockets (film type and frame numbers can look quite good, but barcodes are sometimes a little out of place).

  2. Given their extremely basic specs, I’m guessing Comet models sold on their looks. Certainly Bencini applied some Italian flair to their design and which makes the models popular for display purposes today. The Aluminium polishes up beautifully. No harsh abrasive, just something like jewller’s rouge. The “best” model of the lot in this respect is, IMO, the Comet III, a most unusal shape for a 127 film camera. It could be mistaken for many an 8mm cine camera of the era. I managed to bag one some years ago when prices were a lot lower. I’ve never put a film through it, though.
    Even in view of the basic spec of your S, I’m still very surprised at the overall lack of any contrast in your images posted here, despite the exterior views being in sunshine. Have you examined the lens to see how clear it is, as it may have accrued a fair amount of surface dust over the years?

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