This piece is taken from Classic Camera Magazine
number 25, and is provided to try to demonstrate the style of the magazine.
Note that the magazine article is illustrated, but in order to keep download
times to a minimum, I have omitted the illustrations from this version.
Other years which have been covered in this way are
1954 (issue number 8) and 1965 (issue number 15).
All back issues of Classic Camera Magazine are available;
see the main Classic Camera Magazine page for
It is hard to imagine, unless you were there, the shortages
and the restrictions catalogued in magazines and leaflets from 1947. There
is a practical slant to the magazines which is now gone, probably for
ever. With articles on converting the Box Tengor to use 35 mm. film, converting
a 120 mm. Goerz Pantar for use on a Leica, and on making anything from
a safelight to a horizontal adaptor for the Rolleiflex, the magazines
ensured that the enthusiastic photographer need never be short of things
to do, despite the film shortages.
From the advertisements, 35 mm. film was fairly readily
available, but roll film was more restricted. Wallace Heaton offered
a pamphlet on how to use 35 mm. film in your rollfilm camera. By the
end of the year, Gevaert had announced the return of their 35 mm. film,
in limited quantities, and Westminster Photographic had announced that
there would soon be a limited supply of film for the Compass camera.
Equipment was also in short supply; domestic production
was geared to export and imports were severely restricted.
There was little money to spare on research and development,
especially in Britain. A Miniature Camera Magazine editorial castigates
the British industry for the lack of innovation, pointing out that the
only new cameras of any note were both copies of pre-war German cameras;
the Reid is a Leica IIIb copy and the Agiflex is a Reflex Korelle copy.
These cameras were on display at the British Industries
Fair, held at Olympia in May.
The Agiflex is a 12-on-120 metal camera with a roller-blind
shutter speeded to 1Ü500 sec., and linked to the wind-on. The lens is
an 80 mm. f/3.5 Agilux with bayonet mount. The waist-level finder incorporates
an optical eye-level finder. The camera is finished with a black leather
covering and cost £51 14s. 2d.
The Reid 35 mm. camera, while boasting some improvements
on the original Leica, also made full use of German patents. It was
felt that this provision, giving access to German patents through the
impressively-named Custodian of Enemy Patents, was limiting the willingness
of German firms to innovate. The Reid has a twin-sighted coupled rangefinder
and viewfinder, focal-plane shutter with speeds from 1 sec. to 1Ü1,000
sec., and inter-changeable lenses. It was supplied with a Taylor-Hobson
f/2 lens and the price was expected to be about £80. It was claimed
that the camera could be used with all Leica accessories, but a later
article stated that the new Leica IIIc had a longer body than the old
cameras, thus restricting the use of some accessories. The Reid, therefore,
may not have full compatibility.
Other exhibitors at the British Industries Fair included
Ensign (who showed their Selfix, Commando, and Autorange cameras), and
several lens makers. Ross showed a new range of lenses, including the
Resolux, and the Xtralux for cameras (including the Reid), and Taylor-Hobson
also displayed a lens for the Reid. Dallmeyer and Wray were there with
their lenses, Pullin showed a new enlarging lens with coating on all
surfaces and click stops, and G.B. Montgomery were showing a Ross lens
in Contax-coupled mount.
Kershaw exhibited a prototype of a line of cameras
called the Curlew, taking 21Ü4 -in. ¥ 31Ü4-in. pictures. Three
models were planned: the Curlew I with f/6.3 lens and three-speed shutter,
the Curlew II with f/4.5 lens and five-speed shutter and the Curlew
III with Taylor-Hobson f/3.5 lens and Taylor-Hobson nine-speed flash
synchronised shutter. Some sources claim that this was the first British-made
range of cameras to feature coated lenses. Illustrated but not shown
was the Peregrine, for 21Ü4-in.- square pictures, also in three models,
the best of which was expected to have a coupled rangefinder, a Talkyron
nine-speed shutter and Taylor-Hobson f/2.9 lens; this model was promised
for May 1948.
Research in America bore fruit in February 1947, with
a demonstration to the Optical Society of America on February 21st by
Mr Edwin H. Land, the inventor and president of the Polaroid Corporation.
His camera produces a finished picture in 50 seconds. One account of
this event is very cautious, even sceptical, indicating that but for
the involvement of Mr. Land, a "reputable scientist", would be considered
a stunt. There is a slight note of incredulity when reporting that the
process results in only one copy of the picture, and no negative, but
the report then goes on to point out that tin-type photographers have
been doing this sort of thing for a "couple of generations" and finally
that, before the war, Mr John Logie Baird demonstrated a cinematograph
camera, "the exposed film from which passed straight into a processing
machine, came out the other side and was televised frame by frame, so
as to produce a cinema film on the screen of the television receiver.
The interval between the moment of exposure and the moment of televising
the particular frame was only thirty-five seconds".
Although, for some of us, that demonstration of Polaroid
film would be the highlight of the year, for contemporary photographers
the highlight was probably the 18th Photographic Exhibition in Paris
with over 125 exhibitors from France, Britain, Switzerland, America,
Italy and even Germany, although doubtless their enjoyment was tempered
by the knowledge that many of the products shown would not be available
France, the home country, had a strong showing with
Jousset-I.P.O. showing Compur S-type shutters with a top speed of 1Ü350
sec., and forthcoming models expected to have a built-in synchro-flash
device along the lines of the American Ilex shutter. The 35 mm. Richards
Verascope stereoscopic camera which also permits single pictures was
shown, with the preliminaries of a projector, intended for stereo projection
using Polaroid filters. Richards was also experimenting with designs
for a 120 roll film reflex camera.
Another Leica copy, the Pontiac Super Lynx I, was on
display; this simplified version had no slow speeds or coupled rangefinder.
Pontiac also showed their improved 127 roll film Lynx models, including
the Model III, which will have coated interchangeable lenses and a focal
plane shutter with speeds from 1Ü25 sec. to 1Ü500 sec. The Lynx III
was reserved for export as was most of the production of the interestingly
named 8-on-120 camera, the Bloc-Metal, with Prontor II shutter (with
delayed action, and speeds to 1Ü150 sec.), direct-vision optical finder
and Angenieux or Berthiot lenses.
The Societe O.P.L. showed the Foca-IIbis, a coupled
rangefinder camera with shutter speeds to 1Ü1000 sec., but no slow speeds.
The 6 cm. x 9 cm. frame size was probably the most
popular in France at this time. The P.M.P. company produced the Kinax
cameras: the Kinax I was shown as a prototype, expected to sell for
about £7, with an f/4.5 Kinn lens and four-speed IPO shutter with
T and B settings. The Kinax II had been available in France for about
a year. It had an f/4.5 Flor-Berthiot lens (Tessar-type), IPO shutter
with speeds 1Ü10 sec. to 1Ü150 sec. and B and an optical viewfinder
with parallax correction. "This year's very latest creation" was the
Kinax-Special, with French-made IPO Compur-type shutter with speeds
from 1 sec. to 1Ü350 sec. with B and delayed action. This camera appears
to have been distributed in Britain by Actina as the Kinax II, with
f/4.5 lens made by Kinn of Paris.
The P.A.C. Drepy camera was made in two sizes, for
8 or 16 on 120. Each model had a Pierrat lens and a P.A.C. shutter with
speeds from 1 sec. to 1Ü250 sec. and delayed action.
M. Laroche were the only manufacturers who used the
65 mm. x 65 mm. frame size. Their new camera, due to appear some time
in 1947, was expected to have reflex focusing, coated interchangeable
lenses and a focal-plane shutter with flash synchronisation.
Not surprisingly, the Americans also made use of German
patents, producing the Kardon (a Leica copy) and the Reflex-Kodak, a
camera described as "along the lines of the Rolleiflex", fitted with
an 85 mm. lens. Neither of these were available in Great Britain at
the time. The Kardon, which sold in America for the dollar equivalet
of about £80, was designed by the Premier Instrument Company for
the U.S. Signal Corps. Based on the Leica IIIa, and apparantly accepting
Leica accessories, it has a satin chrome finish, coupled rangefinder,
and non-collapsible lens mount. The lens fitted was a 47 mm. f/2 Kodak
The Swiss Alpa-Reflex has both rangefinder and reflex
focusing, with a focal plane shutter, and is supplied with French lenses
The Italian camera industry was represented by a miniature
camera taking 18 mm. x 24 mm. pictures on 35 mm. film. The Ducati has
interchangeable lenses, coupled coincident-image rangefinder and focal-plane
shutter with speeds up to 1/500 sec. Alternative lenses include a 26
mm. wide angle, f/2.8 35 mm. standard, 60 mm., 80 mm. and 120 mm. long-focus,
and a universal viewfinder which includes parallax correction. The Ducati
takes 35 mm. film, loaded into special cassettes to give 16 pictures.
With the f/3.5 Ducati Vitor lens, in France it was expected that the
camera would sell for about £25. A test report on the Ducati, which
was not available for sale in this country, estimated that it would
probably sell for around £60 to £70 here.
Leica was not left out; under the post-war arrangements,
all Leica production was exported to earn dollars. These were retained
by the occupying forces, and Leitz was paid in Reischmarks. The system
operated in reverse for imported raw materials, which were kept to a
minimum. The Leica exhibited was the IIIc, which was still in production.
Import restrictions meant that many items were either not made at all
or were severely restricted; the Leica IIId was one of the restricted
items. There was also a problem with "self-assembly" cameras, made by
Leitz workers at home from stolen components. Unfortunately, these cameras
were not subjected to the Leitz tests and there were fears that the
Leitz reputation would be compromised by these cameras.
Paillard Bolex, presumably less badly affected by six
years of war, made a strong showing at the exhibition with the L.8,
H.8, H.9, and H.16 cameras and the G series of projectors. Unfortunately,
supply restrictions meant that these cameras were only available with
official permission and, even then, a twelve-month delay was likely.
Emel was described as the only French firm dealing
in 8 mm. cameras and projectors. They offered five different cameras
with turret head, variable speeds, rewind motion and single-frame.
Ercsam made the new 9.5 mm. Camex, with interchangeable
lenses, viewfinder with masks for wide-angle and tele lenses, and a
variable speed motor with speeds up to 48 f.p.s. It uses a special two-chamber
Pathe presented the Webo M for 9.5 mm. or 16 mm. This
has a turret head, variable speeds up to 64 f.p.s., single frame and
backwind. The reviewer commented "All these devices are very interesting
but the French dealers recieve about one camera per year".
Electronic flash was also shown although it was still
something of a novelty. The French-made "Eclatron" weighs about 7 kg.
Meters were described as "still scarce", but the new
Weston Master II was exhibited. In addition, although apparantly not
exhibited, the Master I meter was to be made in Britain, under licence
from the U.S.A. This meter, with high and low scales, was expected to
sell for £8 17s. 6d.; however, by October the message was still
"supplies will be available shortly". A leather case cost an extra £1
Also made in Britain under an arrangement with the
U.S. was the Bell & Howell-Gaumont Model 601 16 mm. projector, the
first new product from the link up between Bell & Howell and the
British G.B. organisation. Based on the latest American design, the
specification is similar to the Filmosound Model 179. It was made in
Britain under the supervision of American technicians from Bell &
Howell in Chicago. It was a well-specified machine with constant tension
take-up, flutterless sound reproduction, sound or silent speeds, threading
light and tone control. It uses a 750 w. 110 v. lamp, and cost £225,
with the transformer £12 10s. extra.
Another Anglo-American arrangment allowed the manufacture
of Ampro 16 mm. projectors by Messrs. Kelvin, Bottomley and Baird. By
the end of the year, production of the first two models was described
as being "under way". The Ampro Imperial is a silent machine, although
the claw arrangement permits the projection of sound films. It takes
a 750 w. 100 v. lamp and is constructed using aluminium castings with
chromium plated and stainless steel fittings. The machine allows still
picture, reverse, high speed powered rewind, and was normally supplied
with a 2-inch f/1.6 coated lens and carrying case for £85. A transformer
for use with 200/250 volts was £9 10s. extra.
The Amprosound Premier-20 sound and silent machine
is a long-base design with 2000-ft. spool capacity. It takes a 110 v.
750 w. pre-focus lamp, although a 110 v. 1000 w. lamp could be used
on sound speed only. It has a 2-inch f/1.6 coated lens (interchangeable),
reverse, still picture, pilot lamp, and was supplied with two carrying
cases, fitted for accessories and including 50 ft. speaker cable for
£190. A transformer for 200/250 volts was £13 extra.
Other cine projectors which were introduced around
1947 are the Kodascope Eight-45 and the Pathescope Gem. The Kodascope
machine, for 8 mm. films, has a cast baseplate and pivoting body giving
easily adjusted tilting. It was supplied with film splicing outfit,
cleaning brush, spare belt, 50 ft. and 100 ft. reels, a bottle of Kodascope
oil and an instruction book, all in a fitted case for £30.
The Pathescope Gem has an elegant design and weighs
only 6.4 kg. It can accommodate up to 900-ft. spools and has powered
rewind. It takes a 12 v. 100 w. lamp, and, with an f/2 32 mm. lens cost
about £33. Two other models were available, for 8 mm. and 16 mm.
A new cine camera for 1947 was the Dekko; advertisements
started early in the year promising supplies in the summer, although
it was nearly Christmas before supplies were available, and then only
in limited quantities. The Dekko has a diecast case with plated fittings.
The clockwork motor runs up to 20 feet of film at one winding and offers
8, 16, 24 and 32 f.p.s. There are hinged viewfinder masks for 1-inch
and 11Ü2-inch lenses; the camera was supplied with a Dallmeyer 13 mm.
f/1.9 lens but an alternative fixed focus f/2.5 lens was expected to
be available in early 1948. The camera door carries an exposure calculator
and the rear of the body carries a depth-of-field table. The camera
cost £49 0s. 6d.
Another new camera, this time American, was the Perfex
Magazine Double 8, a magazine loading 8 mm. cine camera. It has a five
speed clockwork drive and three lens turret with built-in viewfinder
convertors for different focal length lenses. Sold in America with three
lenses (1Ü2-inch f/2.5, 1-inch f/2.5 and 11Ü2 inch f/2.5), the camera
cost the dollar equivalent of around £60.
America was also providing the most interesting advances
in stereo photography, with the new one-piece Viewmaster viewer; earlier
models hinged open for loading and apparantly required some dexterity
to load. Also American was the Stereo Tach attachment for taking stereo
pairs with 35 mm. cameras, marketed by Advertising Displays Inc. The
Stereo Realist was described as the first American precision built stereoscopic
camera. This is a 35 mm. die cast aluminium camera with satin chrome
finish and a hinged plastic cover which protects the Cooke 35 mm. f/3.5
coated lenses and covers the two viewfinders. Focussing is effected
using a milled wheel and there is a red signal on the top plate to indicate
that the film should be advanced. The behind-lens shutter offers speeds
from 1 sec. to 1/150 sec., with T and B. The coupled rangefinder and
separate viewfinder are at the bottom, allowing the body of the camera
to be steadied against the forehead. The camera takes pairs of pictures,
each one 23 mm. x 24 mm., the pairs of pictures alternating on the film,
giving 28 pairs on a 36-exposure cassette. A mounting jig was available,
but in the U.S. an arrangement had been made for mounting pictures after
processing. The camera cost approximately £41 in the U.S.; the
illuminated viewer with focusing adjustment cost an additional £5.
Coronet used Bakelite to good effect to produce the
Cub and the Cameo. The Cub has a fixed focus lens, instantaneous shutter,
collapsible lens mount and folding eye-level viewfinder. The moulded
bakelite body has satin chrome-finish on the metal fittings. It takes
40 mm. x 27 mm. pictures on 828 film and cost £3 3s. The Cameo
is a miniature camera, measuring 50 mm.x 25 mm. x 32 mm. with a fixed
focus f/11 lens, 1Ü25 sec. shutter speed, moulded bakelite body, and
frame finder slides into the camera body. It cost 17s. 10d.
Some cameras which were available in 1947 were pre-war
designs; the Purma Special is a good example. It has a Beck f/6.3 lens,
focal plane shutter with speeds 1Ü25, 1Ü150 and 1Ü450 sec. obtained
by holding the camera in a certain way. It takes 16 pictures on 127
film, which was also in short supply. The price was £6 7s. 9d.
and the would-be purchaser was assured that the camera "has been in
short supply, but the situation is improving".
Ensign had also been selling their pre-war cameras,
but they added a new one to the line-up, the Ranger. This takes eight
pictures on 120 film. It has an f/6.3 Ensar lens and an Ensign Trikon
shutter, giving speeds 1Ü25, 1Ü50 and 1Ü100 sec., B and T. The metal
body has a black crystalline finish. It was cheaper than the Ensign
Commando, which was a high quality camera developed for military use
during the war, taking 12 or 16 on pictures 120 film, with high-quality
f/3.5 Ensign lens, Ensign eight speed Epsilon shutter and coupled rangefinder,
which cost £50 8s. 8d. including purchase tax. The Ensign Selfix
has an f/4.5 Ensign lens and takes 8 or 12 exposures on 120 film. It
was available in two versions, one fitted with a four-speed Epsilon
shutter and the other fitted with an eight-speed Epsilon shutter with
delayed action. Both versions have speeds to 1/150 sec. The four-speed
model cost £16 2s. 6d. while the eight-speed was £17 5s. 6d.
There was also a lot of second-hand equipment in the
shops, although there was strict control over second-hand prices; one
post-war window shopper I have spoken to can recall seeing all manner
of treasures. Among his memories from these times are a Thornton Pickard
Ruby Special Reflex with Series 9 Cooke f/2.9 6-inch lens at £14
10s., two Sanderson cameras, one with a Cooke f/4.5 Aviar lens and one
with 8-inch Dallmeyer Serac, a Sinclair Una with Goerz Dagor f/6.8 lens,
a Newman & Guardia folding reflex camera with lazy tongs, a Goerz
Anschutz press camera and all sorts of Thornton Pickard and Watson cameras,
from quarter plate upwards.
The close of 1947 saw some easing in the film situation,
and things could only get better, but it must have been very frustrating,
two years after the end of the war, to find the shortages continuing.
In some ways, 1947 is not a Golden Year; innovation was curtailed, supplies
of practically everything photographic were difficult to obtain and
the only really bright spots I have found are the first demonstration
of Polaroid and the thought of that second-hand shop.
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