Olympus Six IIIa – 1953

Olympus Six IIIa L

Olympus Six IIIa made in 1953 and purchased from Japan eBay for £49.

The bellows were torn, lens fogged and much of the vinyl covering cracked and peeling. The S Copal shutter was also corroded and seized, and the front standard was out of alignment.

I decided to treat this as a bit of a folly and undertake a full restoration.

The Olympus Six first appeared in 1948 with subsequent models having small but notable refinements. The Olympus Six IIIa featured a “Film Plane Corrector”, a tension spring built into the winder to assist in keeping the film flat.

Two lens variants exist; Zuiko 7.5cm f3.5 and Zuiko 7.5cm f/2.8. This copy has the faster Zuiko f2.8 albeit fogged with some superficial fungus. Camerapedia states  that the f2.8 lens had 5 elements in 4 groups, although I can only see 7 reflections which suggests 4 elements in 3 groups – possibly a Tessar derivative?

The shutter was rebuilt and the lens cleaned. I decided to peel off all the old vinyl, thoroughly clean the camera and set about recovering it in aged 0.8mm Nappa leather.

I measured the old bellows and sent some sketches off to Sandeha Lynch to make  a custom set.

The new bellows, shutter and lens were fitted and aligned. The tubular finder was disassembled, cleaned and re-fitted.

I finished off with some minor touch up of the black painted frame.   Olympus IIIa R