Picture of the GB Kershaw 630 camera

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

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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45 thoughts on “5 Frames with a GB Kershaw 630 from a Car Boot Sale – By Amy Gotto”

    1. 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!

  1. 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.

    1. 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.

    1. 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

      1. 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.

  2. 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!

    1. 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!

  3. 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.

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

    1. 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.

    1. 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.

    1. 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!

    1. 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.

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

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

    1. 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!

  6. 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.

    1. 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!

  7. 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. 😉

    1. 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!

    1. 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!

  8. 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.

    1. 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!

  9. Annalise Craddock

    I also purchased one of these cameras at a bootsale a few years back for £3 I believe, I have never used it but really want to try it out now to see if it works as it will be great for my A-level photography project. I’m still not sure how to use it yet but the photos you have taken with it look great.

    1. £3! That is excellent! Thank you for the kind words, these cameras are definitely worth a go. In general they are simple cameras, the focus, aperture and shutter speed are all on the silver rings around the lens. You cock the shutter with a little lever on top of the silver rings. On my camera the shutter button is on the side of the folding door. And best of luck with your A-level project!

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