Picture of the GB Kershaw 630 camera
5 frames with...

5 Frames with a GB Kershaw 630 from a Car Boot Sale – By Amy Gotto

December 23, 2020

Not only did I find this GB Kershaw 630 camera at a car boot sale, I found it on the floor. I arrived with the hope of finding someone getting rid of 35mm cameras, not expecting to find a medium format camera that looks suspiciously like an Agfa Isolette. No one else seemed to notice what was innocently resting on the ground, and I lost any hopes of playing it cool by gasping aloud when I saw the GB Kershaw 630. I ended up buying 4 cameras and a yellow filter for £25.

Heath land with light grass foreground, a dark hill and fluffy clouds

First shot of the roll

I cleaned up the camera, made some heavy handed repairs on the bellows, and ordered some Ilford Delta 400. I went out for a walk on my local heath, excited to shoot a test roll and see what I could come up with, then disaster struck. The GB Kershaw 630 is a folding camera, and when I opened the bellows for the first time that day, some of my repairs had stuck together. I could only assume this had revealed some pinholes and ruined the film. I walked around this beautiful heath muttering to myself, ‘stupid bellows, this is why people hate bellows, I thought the repair would work… wasted film…’ etc. I kept walking and decided if the film was ruined I might as well shoot it, see what the damage was and repair the bellows later.

A grass path leading to the top of a hill with fluffy clouds

Taken shortly after the angry muttering started

It was a sunny day with big, fluffy, fast moving clouds, which made for some interesting shadows on the open land. There are a few limitations with this camera that I had to get used to, it has no light meter, no rangefinder, and there are a grand total of 4 shutter speeds (200, 75, 25, B). Armed with a light meter app on my phone, I was happy enough and snapped whatever caught my eye. I got home and developed them myself in Ilfotec DD-X, standard dev, shot at box speed. When I scanned & converted them, I couldn’t quite believe what I was seeing. The level of detail in the 6×6 negative, the range of midtones in Delta 400, the character of the lens, the way this camera, film and yellow filter combination captures clouds! They look slightly surreal to me. I never go out with the intention of strictly documenting reality so this works for what I want.

Grassland leading to a hill with large shadows from the clouds

My favourite from the roll

In all honesty I haven’t shot with a lot of different film stocks, and I picked Delta 400 on a whim but I’m really happy with it. There’s so much detail, the grain is there but not overpowering, great sharpness, and then there is the midtones – smooth midtones for days! It doesn’t have that classic black and white feel that HP5+ has, but rather a cleaner perhaps more modern look. But that’s mostly subjective and I get the feeling I would like these images just the same had I shot them with another film stock.

A grass plain, with an angled horizon, with fluffy clouds

Midtones and detail everywhere

As for pin holes and light leaks, the last 3 shots had them, but I had been standing around with the camera open for a long time waiting for the light. Luckily the first 9 shots were not affected, all that muttering to myself for nothing.

Grassland and a hill with a prominent light leak in the bottom of the frame

Light leak!

I’m in love with this camera and its 4 shutter speeds, despite a slight sense of fear that I’ll never take images I like this much again. But I’ll keep wandering and snapping anyway. Next step, new bellows. Thanks for reading and if you would like to see more of my images you can find me here: @amygottophoto

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43 Comments

  • Reply
    Scott Edwards
    December 23, 2020 at 4:04 pm

    These are fabulous. What a find! You have me at “midtowns and detail everywhere.” 🙂 But what, exactly, is a car boot sale?

  • Reply
    Scott Edwards
    December 23, 2020 at 4:06 pm

    …sorry, “midtones” not midtowns.

    • Reply
      Amy Gotto
      December 24, 2020 at 2:39 pm

      I knew what you meant! Yes Delta 400 is just gorgeous. I’m from the UK, so I guess there are different names for a car boot sale elsewhere. Its basically a 2nd hand sale where you go to a car park/field on a weekend, and people are selling off stuff they don’t want – sometimes literally out the back of their car. Some people are just selling their old stuff, some people have proper stalls, like collectibles, or fruit & veg stalls. Sometimes you get people who do house clearance selling things. Its a hoarder’s dream!

  • Reply
    Yul Vazquez
    December 23, 2020 at 4:28 pm

    Outsanding work

    • Reply
      Amy Gotto
      December 24, 2020 at 2:39 pm

      Thank you very much, I really appreciate it!

  • Reply
    Anthony Vidler
    December 23, 2020 at 4:56 pm

    The GB Kershaw was my first camera at age fifteen — I won it from J Arthur Rank that had taken over the Kershaw works and were giving them away in exchange for Kelloggs Cornflake box tops. A lot of cornflakes later I took the camera through Italy on a school trip – I still have the negatives – they are wonderful as you have noted. As a young architect they gave me all the detail I wanted. Loved this camera that I gave away in favor of the OM1 when it came out.

    • Reply
      Amy Gotto
      December 24, 2020 at 2:45 pm

      Wow, Kelloggs Cornflake box tops! That’s a good trade! Do you have the images from Italy online anywhere? I would love to see them. The Kershaw is such a brilliant camera for travel, so compact. I didn’t know anything about the company until I found the camera, nice to have a British made folder, although they look very similar to the early Agfa Isolettes so maybe there is a crossover with parts.

  • Reply
    Steve
    December 23, 2020 at 5:07 pm

    Wow! These photos are fantastic!!!

    • Reply
      Amy Gotto
      December 24, 2020 at 2:46 pm

      Thanks so much Steve!

    • Reply
      Martin Gavin
      February 7, 2021 at 5:43 am

      Beautiful shots..
      I’ve just acquired one, not knowing anything about it other than its a small medium format camera. Having now read your review has got me all fired up.
      Thank you kindly for your post
      Martin Gavin

      • Reply
        Amy Gotto
        February 7, 2021 at 1:40 pm

        Thanks so much Martin! That’s awesome, good luck with your new found gear! Yes its size is definitely helpful, no trouble to carry around at all.

  • Reply
    kate
    December 23, 2020 at 5:44 pm

    Beautiful Landscapes. And you can;t beat 22-pounds. At that price would you be interested in joining the Frugal Film Project? Info Here: https://rr1photography.com/

    We will be moving to FaceBook for 2021…..

    Think about it.

    Kate

    • Reply
      Amy Gotto
      December 24, 2020 at 3:24 pm

      Thank you very much! Ooo sounds interesting, I will take a look and get back to you!

  • Reply
    Rock
    December 23, 2020 at 6:20 pm

    Love these bellows cameras. Your fab photos highlight exactly how they can be used for great effect with amazing monochrome landscapes. Beautiful. And a useful reminder to use a yellow filter. Good luck with changing the bello ws!

    • Reply
      Amy Gotto
      December 24, 2020 at 2:50 pm

      Yes the yellow filter is brilliant, I had no intention of buying one but there it was. Thank you very much for the kind words, and hopefully the new bellows won’t betray me!

  • Reply
    CJS
    December 23, 2020 at 6:34 pm

    I never found that any of the internet “fixes” for bellows (glue mixed with lampblack, various paints, silicone gasket material, and so on) worked at all; replacement is really the only option.

    • Reply
      Amy Gotto
      December 24, 2020 at 2:52 pm

      Yes I suspect you are 100% correct on that! At least with a replacement I can pick an awesome colour.

  • Reply
    Michael
    December 23, 2020 at 6:36 pm

    Stunning! And four cameras for£25! Wow! These mid-50s folders are so unrated, and your pics show what they are capable of.

    • Reply
      Amy Gotto
      December 24, 2020 at 2:56 pm

      Thank you Michael! Yes I think if you are willing to get them serviced/bellows replaced they are absolutely brilliant (I always had my eye on an Isolette). So stripped down in terms of functionality but you just can’t beat that size.

  • Reply
    Huss
    December 23, 2020 at 6:39 pm

    Super photos! Really, you couldn’t be happier with those results!

    • Reply
      Amy Gotto
      December 24, 2020 at 3:00 pm

      Thank you so much! I was really quite shocked when I saw them, that camera definitely has its own magic with how it takes a picture.

  • Reply
    Alexandre Camargo Pontes
    December 23, 2020 at 7:41 pm

    I really like this article and the beauty of shooting with and old bellows camera.

    • Reply
      Amy Gotto
      December 24, 2020 at 3:02 pm

      Thank you very much Alexandre, yes this camera is very special to me now. It made my 2020 a lot better, that’s for sure!

  • Reply
    Alex Vye
    December 23, 2020 at 8:22 pm

    Lovely shots. Love the first shot.

    • Reply
      Amy Gotto
      December 24, 2020 at 3:05 pm

      Thank you so much Alex. Yes I’m fond of that shot too, I spent a lot of time there over the various lockdowns, it really made my summer.

  • Reply
    David Hill
    December 23, 2020 at 10:33 pm

    Lordy Lordy, these are gorgeous. What a find 🙂

    • Reply
      Amy Gotto
      December 24, 2020 at 3:05 pm

      Thank you so much David! I consider myself extremely lucky to have found it!

  • Reply
    Louis Sousa
    December 23, 2020 at 11:09 pm

    Beautiful images, gooey bellows and all!

    • Reply
      Amy Gotto
      December 24, 2020 at 3:07 pm

      Haha gooey is exactly the right word! Thank you Louis, I appreciate it.

  • Reply
    Michael J
    December 24, 2020 at 1:05 am

    Glorious shots. Great tonality with landscape and sky, filter notwithstanding, and nowt much wrong with camera or photographer I’d say!

    • Reply
      Amy Gotto
      December 24, 2020 at 3:11 pm

      Wow thank you very much indeed Michael! I might treat the camera to some colourful bellows but apart from that its a gem.

  • Reply
    Cheek Wendell
    December 24, 2020 at 2:54 pm

    Good eye, Amy. I have the feeling it will not matter what camera you use…..

    • Reply
      Amy Gotto
      December 24, 2020 at 3:14 pm

      That’s so lovely thank you, I really appreciate all the kind comments. I dunno though – that camera has a mind of its own haha!

  • Reply
    Brian Nicholls
    December 24, 2020 at 5:10 pm

    A fine body of work from a simple, but well made camera. I’ve got two, but have yet to use them until now that is.

    • Reply
      Amy Gotto
      December 24, 2020 at 5:36 pm

      Thank you Brian! That’s exciting – do you have the 630 model?

  • Reply
    Holly Gilman
    December 24, 2020 at 8:52 pm

    You have a wonderful writing style and I’ve just followed your Instagram – spectacular images. Welcome to 35mmc 🙂

    • Reply
      Amy Gotto
      January 1, 2021 at 5:22 pm

      Thank you so much! I was a little nervous because I find writing/words in general difficult, I write how I talk (informal stream of consciousness ha!). I just found you on Instagram and followed back – Happy New Year!

  • Reply
    Aivaras
    December 25, 2020 at 7:07 am

    Beautiful landscapes. You clearly have an eye and well developed skills. I just love tonal range in these photos! And those folders… hadn’t possibility to play with one, but seems quirky and fun to use cameras. 😉

    • Reply
      Amy Gotto
      January 1, 2021 at 5:16 pm

      Yes the folding cameras are great! Very basic (and a little temperamental) but they have great character. Thank you very much for your kind words, I really appreciate it! Happy New Year!

  • Reply
    AW
    December 25, 2020 at 8:35 am

    Outstanding images! Thanks for sharing the story.

    • Reply
      Amy Gotto
      January 1, 2021 at 5:11 pm

      Thank you so much! No problem, if I have any more run-ins with faulty equipment, I will be sure to write about it! Happy New Year!

  • Reply
    Dave Mockford
    December 31, 2020 at 4:50 pm

    Beautiful images of a beautiful landscape on a British camera. Unfortunately seeing this post has just cost me £20, that includes postage, to purchase one of these fine cameras. I’m just about to load some HP5 in it ready to go.

    • Reply
      Amy Gotto
      January 1, 2021 at 5:08 pm

      This really made me laugh! I’m so sorry about that £20, what a way to end the year, robbed of your disposable income haha! I would love to see what images you take with it – feel free to tag me here or on Instagram. And of course Happy New Year!

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