2D Cameras

Stereo Cameras

Cabinet Stereoscopes

Handheld Stereoscopes

Stereo Projectors

Old Stereo Photos

New Stereo Photos

Stereo Misc.

Stereo Cameras Explained

Repair or Restore?

I never set out to collect 2D cameras, but there are a few which, for a variety of reasons, I find interesting. The Tessina is one I stole from my father many years ago. In high school, I used it to shoot photos around campus for photography class. It was easier to take spy photos than have all the kids giving me grief over pointing a camera at them.
Benetfink full plate camera

Benetfink, full plate tailboard camera

Benetfink Cheapside London

Benetfink was a camera maker in name only. Not unlike Sears today, they sold every form of mechanical device imagineable. Their private label cameras were made under contract by outside camera manufacturers, who no doubt were happy to have the extra business. One source notes the fact Benetfink cameras were not known for being innovative designs. While that may be true for the design of this c.1891 full plate camera, its construction is first rate. The entire camera is built from quarter sawn fiddle back mahogany of very fine quality. There are brass reinforcements on every corner, and the tailboard has V shaped brass reinforcing plates inletted with a precision one would expect from a maker of expensive tropical cameras.

Additional Views

Lizars Challenge Dayspool Tropical

J. Lizars "Challenge" Dayspool No. 1 Tropical

Lizars Challenge Dayspool CameraAccording to information from Channing and Dunn's British Camera Makers, the presence of a second version Lizars Patent Brilliant Finder, and a London location on the maker's plate, place the date of this example in the range of 1907-'11. Although the book says there is no traceable serial number scheme, my camera has the number five stamped on the body, back, and plate back cover. An unusual feature of the Dayspool is its ability to shoot both 122 roll film, or glass plates. The optional glass plate back mounted to the camera back, behind the film plane for roll film. As a consequence, there is a small plate on the front standard marked with separate focus points for film vs glass plates.

Additional Views

Kodak No 8 Cirkut Outfit

Kodak No 8 Cirkut Outfit

If you have ever seen one of those old 4 foot long panoramic pictures, this is the style of camera most commonly used to make them. The "8" refers to the film width in inches. The Cirkut Outfit was composed of a standard folding bed plate camera, a removable Cirkut back and the special geared tripod head. Unlike Cirkut Outfits, Cirkut cameras were purpose built and could be used only for panoramic shots.

Side View and Description | Manual

Thornton-Pickard MkIII Hythe Camera

Thornton-Pickard MkIII Hythe Thornton-Pickard MkIII Hythe

Thornton-Pickard MkIII Hythe

Thornton Pickard MkIII Hythe CameraDesigned to emulate a Lewis machine gun, the Hythe camera was used as a training tool for aerial gunners. In wartime, 120 roll film was much cheaper (and safer) than live .303 ammo. The "gun's" controls are comparable to an actual Lewis gun, but the charging handle advances the film and cocks the shutter. The trigger fires the shutter. The simple fixed focus, aperture and shutter speed were intended to judge a gunner's aiming skills, not take a pretty picture. Although purely a camera, it uses an actual functioning Lewis gun magazine. Presumably, this was to give the gunners practice at changing magazines, as its presence was not required to operate the camera. A Japanese copy of the camera omitted the magazine. My grandfather was trained as a gunner/observer on the Vickers Gunbus. Thankfully, he was held back as an instructor, or likely would have perished during a brief period known as the Fokker Scourge, when the Fokker Eindecker, and it's synchronized gun effectively eliminated all the Gunbusses. Although I was unaware of the Hythe camera during his lifetime, it is entirely possible he used one or more of these cameras.

Graflex No. 0 Graphic

Graflex No. 0 Graphic

Another "not quite sure what they had in mind" camera. The No. 0 Graphic has a fixed focus Kodak anastigmat hiding behind the little flapper door on the front. Pulling the release lever (on the left front in the photo) opens the door and fires the shutter. It had a Graflex focal plain shutter with speeds up to 1/500th sec. The Newton finder on top has a mirror, which in this photo, is deployed to shoot 90 degrees from the direction you are looking. Presumably this was for candid shots.

RB Auto Graflex Folmer Scwing

RB Auto Graflex

A thing of beauty is a joy forever...and then there's this beast, or should we say family of beasts? My father was a Speed Graphic sort of fellow. In fact, I think he still has the camera he used as a high school newspaper photographer. When I started learning 35mm photography in school, he went on at length about how superior the results were from a medium format camera, so I wound up buying a Series B Graflex. Can't possibly recall why, other than I must have fallen in love with the idea of large black boxes. This is the second of what eventually became a three camera stable, including an RB Series B, and a Series D. The other two are both 4 x 5s. This one is in 3.25 x 4.25, which meant that when 3.25 cut sheet film was discontinued shortly after I bought the camera, I wound up cutting down 4 x 5 sheets in the dark. Still have ten fingers in spite of my best efforts. As for results, it must be said the fine grain of a mf image is very impressive. Unfortunately, I never had access to a medium format enlarger, so it was contact prints only. I've scanned a couple of my old negatives, and have to admit they really are good. I learned a lesson about lenses when the first camera I was considering had a bubble in the front element of the lens. I queried the seller about it and he explained something about plain of focus and how he was sure I would love the results - bubble or no bubble. He turned out to be correct, it's a wonderful old lens. At the time, I never would have imaged that years later I would find myself telling guys the specks in their digital shots came from sensor dust and couldn't possibly be that little dust mote inside the lens. What goes around comes around.

The "Davon" Micro-Telescope

Davidson Davon Microscope Telescope

The "Davon" Micro-Telescope

The "Davon" Micro-Telescope

"It's a dessert topping. No, it's a floor wax!" What idiot would argue the legitimacy of a simple microscope's presence here, were it not for the fact F. Davidson & Co. sold this thing (in part) on the basis of its use as a photographic device. The brochure illustrates examples of high magnification photographs taken with this unique (circa 1920) micro-telescope. Operation as a microscope was as one may expect. where the Davon differentiated itself was in the addition of telescope adaptors, which were inserted in a socket under the stage. Equipped with a choice of telescope adapters, the degree of magnification was impressively high. The unit installed for the photo here was a special photographic piece, with built in adjustable diaphragm. Light gathering was less than impressive, so stopping down considerably, while it may have helped sharpness, would likely extend exposures to excess. I have little information on exactly how the sample photographs in the book were created, so my example below is probably not up to the equipment's full potential.


The "Davon" Micro-Telescope . The "Davon" Micro-Telescope

With a little fiddling I was able to capture a sample photo. While in a pinch a converted microscope may be usable as a spotting scope, I wouldn't recommend it as part of your regular camera kit. The above left image was taken with a Canon PowerShot S2 IS with the zoom at about 400mm. The yellow circle shows the approximate area of the Davon produced image.

Ernemann Ermanox

Ernemann Ermanox

Although nothing special by today's standards, in 1924 the Ernostar f2.0 100mm lens was super fast, and helped usher in a new style of available light candid photography. The photographer Erich Salomon used an Ermanox to create many famous images of celebrities and politicians. Another famous photographer, who at least briefly used the Ermanox, was Alfred Eisenstaedt. He is said to have been influenced by Salomon's work. I've always joked about wanting to live in a garage with house attached, well here is a lens with camera attached.

Top View

Le Coultre Compass Camera

Le Coultre Compass Camera

Designed by Noel Pemberton Biling, and manufactured by Swiss watchmaker Le Coultre, the Compass incorporated the most features in the least possible space. Long before our modern micro miniature digital cameras came along, the Compass camera had just about every feature imaginable in the smallest possible size. It even incorporated stereo and panoramic photo features. The complete kit includes a beautifully made tripod with a pocket clip like on a pen. The body of the camera is a masterful example of pre CNC machining. Biling was an interesting character. Not only was he an inventor, but also a movie maker, aviator, and a member of the British Parliament. His aviation company went on to become Supermarine, manufacturers of the WWII Spitfire.

Sakura Petal

Sakura Petal

Notable for having been listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's smallest camera, the Petal is otherwise more novelty than camera. A round disk of film held six round im ages. Made in occupied Japan shortly after the war, many were brought home by returning GIs. The balsa wood box, tissue paper instruction sheet and original red ribbon all add to the effect. Petals are not particularly rare, but they're too cute to ignore.

Camera Instructions

Echo 8

Echo 8 (model 1)

Produced by Suzuki Optical Co. in the early 1950s, the Echo 8's only real claim to fame was being featured in the movie Roman Holiday. Have a close look at the camera used by Eddie Albert to take spy photos of Audrey Hepburn. The Ebay seller of this camera claimed it was bought in eastern Europe and may have been "KGB Issue." I took that with a grain of salt, but on receiving it I must say this thing, though in good shape, has clearly seen a lot more use than its novelty status would suggest. Maybe it really did get used to spy on people. Although the lighter is functional, its not a good idea to fill it today. The bottom cap tends to leak and the fluid eventually ruins the camera.

Component Parts View

Camera Lite

Camera Lite (model 1)

Its a lighter, no its a camera, no its a Camera Lite! This particular example is marked "Made by Continental Merchandise Co. NY", however, I believe it was actually manufactured by Suzuki Optical, or maybe they truly were US made on contract to Suzuki. I have read elsewhere on the web this simplified model was produced to fill an inventory shortfall when the movie Roman Holiday cause d a surge in Echo 8 sales. The camera used 16mm film, run through a special film slitter to create two strips of 8mm film with sprocket holes on one side.

Camera Lite Model B

Camera Lite Model B

As if overwhelming demand dictated further evolution of the design, for some reason Suzuki Optical created a second model of the Camera-Lite. Referred to on the box as Model B, the revised camera/lighter incorporated a two speed shutter. While I understand the fixed "I" setting was intended to produce an adequate daylight exposure, how they expected a Bulb setting to genuinely enhance the photographic experience of this marginal device is beyond me. The other obvious change is a textured finish to the lighter body. The Model B came packaged with three 20 exposure rolls of film, a vinyl case and instructions printed on rice paper.

Camera Instructions

Nikon S Rangefinder

Nikon S

The Nikon S range finder. Substantially similar to the older Nikon M, but less than 1/3 the price. I'm no expert on Nikons. I like these because they are well made and in my 2D photography years I always used Nikons.

Nikon S2

Nikon S2

The S2 was a very popular camera, incorporating several improvements over the S. These included film wind and rewind levers, a bigger range finder and other improvements. It was also the first Nikon to use the now standard 24 x 36 mm image size.

Nikon SP Camera

Nikon SP

The most sophisticated of Nikon's rangefinder cameras included color coded masking frames in the viewfinder, which were matched to various focal length lenses. However, with the system starting at 50mm, it was still necessary to use accessory viewfinders with wide angle lenses. In spite of a never ending supply of SPs on Ebay, demand among the collector market keeps the prices quite robust. It's no wonder though, after handling this gem for a few minutes it's hard not to want one.

Tessina 35 Automatic

From the "smaller than a pack of cigarettes collection," the Swiss Tessina 35 Automatic is a real jewel. It shoots a half frame 35 mm image in specially loaded cassettes. The image is reflected onto the film plain by a mirror. Film is automatically advanced by a clockwork mechanism. Wind it up and you get about 6-8 shots in quick succession. If you want to shoot candids, hold the shutter release button down until you're out of earshot. The advance operates when you release the button and is quite audible.

Nikon F2A

Nikon F2A

The F2A, last of Nikon's all mechanical professional cameras, is hardly a collectable. Rather it is a dead reliable workhorse. However, I've sold out and moved over to a digital SLR (from the competition no less). The 8 mm fisheye lens is more novelty than serious everyday equipment, but the round picture has its place here and there, and the lens is impressive for its large spherical chunk of glass.

Sample Photo

Le Coultre Compass Camera Tessina 35 Automatic Nikon S2

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