Camera Notes

Soho Reflex

The Soho was one of the most popular early single-lens reflexes and came to epitomise the English reflex of that period. It was sold by Marion and their successors up to the 1940s. The camera was manufactured by Kershaw who were later to join with Marion as part of APM in 1921. The same camera was also sold by Ross, Beck and others under their own name.

The mirror moves in a curve when being raised, this gives a backward movement as the mirror is lifted allowing lenses with shorter back focus to be used. The mirror is also connected to a dampening cylinder providing a smooth movement without jolts. When lowered the mirror forms a light-tight box in which the non-self-capping shutter can be tensioned.

The Stereo Soho, in the smaller size, is a post-card model with a septum attached to the underside of the mirror and dividers to fit in the image plane and below the focusing screen. These fittings were removable allowing the camera to be used for mono work.

Soho Models

Introduced in 1905 in three sizes: quarter-plate, 5" x 4" and half-plate (the half-plate may have been introduced after the other two). The following year the postcard size was added. Around 1913 metric sizes of 6.5 x 9 cm, 9 x 12 cm, 10 x 15 cm and 12 x 16.5 cm were added. Apart from the postcard size the camera had a revolving back. The shutter was a non-self-capping focal-plane by Kershaw with a top speed that depended on the model size. The body was made of mahogany and finished in Morocco leather.

These were introduced around 1909. They were made of teak with a lacquered finish and brass fittings. The bellows and hood were of red Russia leather. They were available in all the imperial sizes and 9 x 12 cm, 10 x 15 cm and 12 x 16.5 cm. The brass lacquerer used is often a dark red/orange colour.

When first introduced in 1908 this was a different camera to the Ordinary Soho. The internal mirror arrangement was completely different. The hood was very distinctive, it did not have a front cover and was fitted with a single magnifying lens. In 1910 a conventional hood was fitted and the camera was designated No 1. A No. 2 was introduced which was an Ordinary Soho in a smaller size. The No. 1 was discontinued before World War I. The plate size was 3 ½" x 2 ½". A tropical version of the later model was made.

Two sizes were made, 5 ½" x 3 ½" introduced in 1907 and 6 ¾" x 3 ¼" introduced c. 1913. The smaller version was a postcard model with removable septum, focusing screen divider and image plane divider. In other respects it was similar to the Ordinary. The larger size was available for only a few years.

This took 4.5 x 6 cm plates. It was similar to the Ordinary model but had a simplified front standard without movements. High speed lenses could be fitted. Introduced in 1926.


These cover the Ordinary, Tropical, Stereo, Dainty No.2 and Baby.

  • Shutter setting knob - For the first year or two this may have been a small diameter round knob. By 1907 it was the familiar two pronged wheel. In c. 1926 a larger diameter Bakelite knob was fitted.
  • T&I settings - At first this was a lever. In 1928 it was changed to a small conical knob.
  • Rising front - A rack and pinion rising front was fitted in c. 1909 except on the postcard and stereo models which had a friction grip.
  • Focusing screen mask indicating reversing back position - Fitted in 1927. Manually operated.
  • Speed dial - This was changed in 1927, the new dial was clearer and had a plastic cover. A 'B' setting was added.
  • Swing front - This was an option fitted to all but the Baby. It gave a four-way swing movement.
  • Reversing hood - Available from the 1920s.
  • A focusing scale may be engraved on one of the extension brackets.
  • A Ross model was briefly advertised in 1906 finished in hand-sewn cowhide.


Front Extension
Extra bellows could be attached to the front of the camera giving extra extension for copying or long-focus work. Advertised in 1911.

Viewing Mirror
A mirror could be fixed to the top of the viewing hood for eye-level use.

Plate Holders
Double dark-slides either book or block form, adapter to use single metal slides, changing box, film pack adapter and a Mackenzie-Wishart slide were all available.

Kershaw shutter. BP 22698/1904. BJA 1906, p. 71. BJA 1907 p. 66. BJA 1908, p. 55. BJA 1909, p. 51. BJA 1910, p. 51. BJA 1911, p. 54. BJA 1912, p. 63. BJA 1929, p. 344. Phot. Journal 1905, p. xviii. BJP 31/3/1911, p. 258. Instruction book.

Further Information:
Holmes, Age of Cameras, p.59. Lothrop, Century, p.140.

Isenberg, p.184, late model Tropical. Permutt, Collecting Old Cameras, p.186, Stereo Tropical. Vintage Cat. No 8. Christie's Cat. 23/11/2000, lot 248, leather stereo in the 6 ¾" x 3 ¼" size.


The Minex was the successor to the Adams Videx, it was extremely well-made and had many features for the time. The shutter is set by a ¾ turn of a large knob which also sets the mirror. The shutter speeds are set on the same knob. Speed variation is by changing the slit width and the use of two differently tensioned springs. A revolving back was fitted which coupled to an automatically adjusted mask below the focusing screen. The front standard itself contained only a rising front. A four way swing front (swing and tilt) was provided by the lens panel. This had a screw adjustment which caused the lens to tilt, the panel could be turned through 90 degrees to give swing.


The normal finish was a hard, black, leather. Tropical models were made in all sizes, these were of teak with brass binding and fittings, and brown Russia leather bellows and focusing hood.

The Minex was an expensive camera with many features, with this in mind the original model was renamed model A and a cheaper, model B, was introduced in 1911. The model B had a simpler revolving back, no automatic focusing screen mask and separate settings for mirror and shutter. Other features - rear focusing screen, four-way swing front, slow speed timer, were optional. When first sold the model B was called the Radex. It continued until the early 1920s.

In the BJA 1912 a model C is illustrated, this is a front shutter model, fitted with a Compound. A Bowden release is used to connect the shutter to the camera controls, a flap near the focal plane prevents light reaching the plate.


Standard lenses were recessed into the body of the camera. The swing front panel was an open box into which the lens screwed. The other form was a normal flat panel into which a cone was screwed, the lens then screwed into the bottom of the cone. Both forms could be reversed to gain extra extension. Telephoto lenses were normally supplied on a flat panel without a cone.

Before World War I the normal lens would be a Zeiss Tessar later Ross lenses were recommended, Xpres or Combinable.


Several sizes were produced:

  • 2 ½" x 3 ½".
  • 3 ¼" x 4 ¼".
  • 5" x 4".
  • 6 ½" x 4 ¾".
  • 5 ½" x 3 ½".
  • 6 ¾" x 3 ¼" stereo.
  • 10 x 15 cm.

The post-card and stereo models were available from 1910. The 10 x 15 cm model was introduced in the late 1920s by which time the post-card and stereo models had been dropped.


Some minor variations of the original/model A exist:

  • The earliest illustrations show a camera without a removable plate around the shutter dial. This may have been a prototype (1909 only).
  • Early models have a 'fur' band around the top of the focusing hood, this was removed before World War I.
  • The shutter mechanism changed over time, the studs surrounding the shutter dial are in different positions and of different shape.
  • The earliest (1909 only) have an I, B, T selector. This was re-introduced in the Radex.
  • An I, B, T selector, different to above, was re-introduced around 1926. The throat size was also increased at this time.
  • In 1932 a mirror lock was included.
  • The catch for the revolving back is black and later chrome.
  • The spectacles in the hood at first dropped into grooves, later they were fixed, later still they had an arm which extended through the hood to raise or lower them.

Shutter Variants

There are four versions of the shutter as fitted to the Minex camera (it was also sold separately for attachment to other cameras):

  • First version, this corresponds to the patent description and illustrations in very early advertisements. It was very quickly replaced by the second version, certainly within a year. It has a separate I&B, T switch.
  • Second version, the I&B, T switch is removed on this version, the settings are made directly on the speed dial, thus one control knob sets the full range of speeds including B and T, tensions the shutter and lowers the mirror. The speeds are selected by lifting and turning the knob so that a pin engages different holes. The control knob has a solid top, external studs are at 6 and 5 o'clock.
  • Third version, this appeared before 1914. The control knob is retained by a slotted nut rather than being screwed to the shaft, external studs at 5 and 3 o'clock.
  • Fourth version, the I&B, T selector returns but with a different mechanism to the first version. The control knob is retained by a slotted nut, no external studs. This change took place in 1926.

Minex shutter. BP 18260/1906 (swing front). BP 25849/1908. BP 2485/1907 (shutter). BP 27667/1909. BJA 1910, pp. 267, 631. BJA 1911, pp. 267, 677, 678. BJA 1912, pp. 283, 724. BJA 1927, p. 329. BJA 1929, pp. 104, 300. BJA 1932, p. 72. BJA 1951, p. 24. Phot. Journal 1909, p. xi. BJP 31/3/1911, p. 249.

Further Information:
Sci. Mus. Cat. p.84. A second-hand model C is advertised in the BJA 1917, p.213.

Coe, Cameras, p.138. Christie's Cat. 27/5/1982, 320. Stereo Tropical model.

Folding Minex

The Folding Minex was made in two distinct models, a third model is illustrated in the earliest advertisements but was probably a prototype or artist impression.

  • Lazy tongs connecting the front standard to the rear of the camera.
  • Front standard connects to inner focusing frame.
  • Small focusing wheel, fixed to folding bed, moves inner focusing frame. Focusing wheel on the right-hand side when using the camera.
  • Shutter release on the left-hand side.

1914 model
  • No lazy tongs.
  • Large focusing wheel on right-hand side.
  • Cut out for focusing wheel pinion.
  • Double extension by a folding rack.
  • Loose flap between camera top and the folded bed.
  • Release on left-hand side.

1922 model
  • Release on right-hand side.
  • No flap.
  • Focusing wheel on left-hand side.
  • Later models (c. 1925/26) have a separate IBT selector lever.

When originally produced the Folding Minex was available in 3 ¼" x 4 ¼", 4" x 5" and 6 ½" x 4 ¾" sizes. Later (c. 1919) a 2 ½" x 3 ½" model was made, postcard and 10 x 15 cm sizes were added in the 1920s.

The Tropical model was introduced around 1920. The camera was normally sold with a film pack adapter rather than slides. Standard lenses are in sunken mounts either wood or leather covered, telephoto lenses are surface mounted. Cases made of crocodile were advertised from 1926.

A cloth sleeve in the focusing hood is connected by a cord to the mirror mechanism. As the mirror is released so the sleeve moves within the hood to block out light from the hood.

Minex shutter. BP 5523/1912. BP 25037/1913. BP 21588/1909. BJA 1914, p. 302. BJA 1915, p. 205. BJA 1916, p. 200. BJA 1920, p. 148. BJA 1922, p. 150. BJA 1923, p. 138. BJA 1927, p. 112.

Holmes, Age of Cameras. Illustration of very late model with IBT selector. Christie's Cat. 28/10/1975 lot 65.
Christie's Cat. 11/12/2002. Illustration of very late model.


The Una was introduced in 1904. It was a very well-made and solid camera. The earliest models had square cornered bellows, reversing back and box shaped view-finder. It was originally available in quarter-plate, 5" x 4", and half-plate sizes.

The price of a camera with the specification of the quarter-plate example shown above was £35 in 1928.


The Una remained essentially the same as the early model but a number of improvements were introduced:

  • c. 1906. A Tropical finish was offered in mahogany.
  • c. 1907. The Tropical model was now optionally teak or mahogany. For a brief period after this teak was the preferred tropical finish, by c. 1911 the teak option had been dropped in favour of mahogany.
  • The folding bed of early (before 1908) models was clamped by a screw, later, a spring held the strut in place.
  • 1909. A tilting front was added with an 'arc' shaped guide to fix the movement. A tilt movement may have been available from around 1907, advertisements are not clear if one was fitted and if it was what form it took.
  • 1909. The back was now revolving.
  • 1910. A tilting finder was available to determine the amount of rising front that was necessary. A scale was engraved on the finder matching the scale on the lens panel and front standard, at first the scale was marked on the fixed part of the finder with an index on the tilting part later (by 1914) the scale was on the tilting part. Previously the view-finder was box-shaped and without rising front markings. The box-shaped finder remained for cameras without rising front calibration. Both reflecting and brilliant finders are fitted, only the reflecting type was tilting. In 1909 a finder with a sliding front to show the effect of rising front was fitted to the half-plate model.
  • Central tilt (described as swing) to the back was available from the late 1900s, but was not recommended.
  • By 1914 the 'arc' guide was removed. From then, to operate the tilt a flat spring attached to the top of the lens board is raised which disconnects it from a catch at the top of the front standard forks.
  • Variations in operating the falling front (described in a section below).
  • 1936. The front of the baseboard hinged down allowing wide-angle lenses to be used.
  • c. 1937. Triple extension was on all models.
  • The locking of the rising front flap was at first by swivelling clips later by springs.
  • On some tropical models the leather hood is a deep grained red/brown, on others it is smooth light brown.


Commonly supplied shutters together with their introduction dates:

  • Linhof - found on early models, 1904.
  • B&L Automat - 1905.
  • Compound - 1905.
  • Accurate (N&S Patent) - 1912/13.
  • Perfect (N&S Patent) - c. 1916.
  • Lukos Express - c. 1920.
  • Acme - c. 1920.

The N&S Patent shutter
was introduced in 1912 or 1913 based on the patent of A.S. Newman. The shutter was of the diaphragm type with three blades, spring powered with pneumatic regulation. It was originally called the Accurate. The first size available was for 1 ⅜" lens tubes, in 1914 two further sizes were produced, a smaller size of 1 1/16" and a larger of 1 ¾". Around 1916 the shutter was given the name Perfect. During the early years of World War I production of the larger size ceased. Production of the smaller sizes may also have been suspended but were re-introduced following the war. Early models of the shutter were supplied with a certificate from the National Physical Laboratory at Kew confirming the accuracy of the speeds, each shutter was also marked with its actual speed rather than its nominal speed.

An Anschütz, Ernemann or Adams focal-plane back was available as an accessory.


A number of sizes were made:

  • 3 ½" x 2 ½" introduced 1913.
  • 3 ¼" x 4 ¼" introduced 1904.
  • 4" x 5" introduced 1904.
  • 3 ½" x 5 ½" introduced 1911.
  • 10 x 15 cm introduced c. 1919.
  • 6 ½" x 4 ¾" introduced 1904.
  • 7" x 5" introduced 1906.

Other sizes would have been made to special order.

Rising and Falling Front

The camera is usually marked with rising front indicators of 0 - 3 and two index lines. Position 0, sometimes just shown as a dot, is the neutral position. Position 1 is when the lens panel is raised to align with the index on the lens board without lifting the whole lens board. Positions 2 and 3 are when the lens board is raised by moving it within the front standard forks to align with the index on the front standard fork, the lens panel is left in its neutral position.

The falling front is normally operated by moving a brass plate from under the lens board. The lens board rests on the plate when in the neutral position. On early models the plate slides, later it is pivoted. On some models a spring plate is fixed to the outside of the front standard forks, the end of the spring has a peg attached to it which fits through a hole in the fork and engages the lens board. To operate the falling front the spring plate is raised by pushing a brass plate underneath it. The peg arrangement seems to be fitted to models that have the 'arc' tilting front.

Dark Slides & Focusing Screens

Normally a block form double dark-slide was supplied with vulcanite sheaths, book-form slides were also available. The Autochrome slide was a book-form type with velvet covering to the pressure plate.

The focusing screens have a removable hood that unclips when a focusing cloth to be used.

N&S shutter. BP 13820/1912 (Accurate shutter). Sinclair Cat. 1910. BJA 1905, p. 1548. BJA 1906, p. 1552. BJA 1907, p. 1277. BJA 1908, p. 1050. BJA 1909, p. 1036. BJA 1910, p. 996. BJA 1911, p. 1000. BJA 1912, p. 1000. BJA 1913, pp. 731, 1028. BJA 1914, pp. 736, 1044. BJA 1915, p. 784. BJA 1916, p. 736. BJA 1917, p. 587. BJA 1921, p. 573. BJA 1923, p. 573. BJA 1937, pp. 451, 242. BJA 1938, p. 457. AP 13/07/09, p. xxiii. Falchenberg, British Hand & Stand Cameras, p. 17. BJA 1912, pp. 1054, 1232. Shutter. BJA 1913, pp. 713, 1037. Shutter. BJA 1917, p. 594. Shutter.

Holmes, Age of Cameras, p.27. Photo of early model. Vintage Cat. 1976 (cat. 2), 1978, 1979. Tropical models including one on a Atkin Swan tilting frame. Christie's Cat. 23/4/75 lot 47. Model with quadrant tilt and peg activated falling front. Christie's Cat. 29/6/77 lot 203. Teak, quadrant tilt, square cornered bellows.


The Dayspool came in several sizes and different combinations of lens and shutter. The naming of the models is not as clear as it could be (common with Lizars).

Dayspool No. 1

This first appeared in 1902 in 3 ¼" x 4 ¼", 4" x 5" and 7" x 5" sizes a post-card size was added shortly afterwards. The usual shutter was a B&L Unicum to which a variety of Anastigmat lenses could be fitted. (Any other suitable lens and shutter would be fitted if required). A removable panel was set into the back of the camera, when this was removed the two ends hinged open to allow the film to be loaded. A plate adapter with hooded focusing screen could be fitted.

Around 1908 the No. 1 was improved by fitting a totally removable back which clipped into place at one end. This also had a removable panel into which dark-slides could be fitted. Koilos and Compound shutters were advertised (1906 and 1908 respectively) as options to the Unicum.

Around 1912 the preferred shutter was an Ibso. Production ended during World War I. Some variations are listed: usually the camera had rounded ends but square ends were optional; some versions had extra long bellows extension. As well as the finish of Morocco leather over mahogany the Dayspool was available in polished mahogany and polished teak tropical finish.

Dayspool No. 2

This was introduced along with the No.1 but was available for only about a year. It was a simplified version of the No.1 having no rise or cross front movements and no option for plates. Only a quarter-plate size was made. The shutter was a B&L Gem.

Junior Dayspool

Introduced around 1903 the Junior was made in three sizes - model A, 2 ¼" x 2 ¼"; model B, 2 ¼" x 3 ¼"; model C, 2 ½" x 4 ¼". When introduced the shutter was a B&L Automatic with speeds of 1/25 - 1/100 and fitted with a rapid rectilinear lens. The model B was able to take plates. Later, anastigmatic lenses were offered as standard and also Ibso shutters.

Simplex Dayspool

This model was available for a short time from about 1905. The Simplex came in quarter-plate, 4" x 5" and post-card sizes. It was similar to the No.1 but fitted with a B&L Simplex Automatic T&I shutter and rapid rectilinear lens.

Although not called a Dayspool a stereo roll-film Lizars was produced.

Film sizes

Junior A2 ¼A117
Junior B2 ¼B120
Junior C2 ½116
3 ¼" x 4 ¼"3 ¼118
4" x 5"4103
7" x 5"7115
The Ensign size is the spool width.

BJA 1903, pp. 913, 1240, 1242. BJA 1904, pp. 925, 1240. BJA 1905, p. 1220. BJA 1906, pp. 1213, 1225. BJA 1907, p. 1202. BJA 1909, p. 1258. BJA 1911, p. 1296. BJA 1913, p. 1392. BJA 1915, p. 1017.

Further Information:
Lothrop, Century, p.106.


The Xit, introduced in 1894, was very similar to the earlier Shew Eclipse, a number of different lens/shutter combinations were fitted and there were many minor variations. The camera is usually finished in polished mahogany but some were polished black and others leather covered.

The name Xit derives from a character in a book by the novelist William Harrison Ainsworth.


There was a lot of overlap between models and Shew would have made or altered cameras to meet a customer's requirements. Swing back with rack and pinion adjustment could be fitted to Aluminium and similar models. The models listed were:

1894 - 1901. Square cornered bellows. Wooden view-finder. Lenses: Eclipse; Goerz; Zeiss; Dallmeyer Stigmatic; Cooke in Goerz Sector shutter. Sizes: 3 ¼" x 4 ¼"; 5" x 4"; 6 ½" x 4 ¾".

Junior Xit (early type)
Introduced before 1898. Shutter: Rotary. Lenses: Special landscape; Rapid rectilinear; Eclipse; Dallmeyer Stigmat. Sizes: 3 ½" x 2 ⅛"; 3 ¼" x 2 ¼". Available with or without aluminium parts.

Aluminium Series
1901 - 1905. Metal view-finder. Cross front was added around 1904. Shutters: Unicum; Bausch & Lomb Everset; Shew Rotary; Goerz Sector. Lenses: Shew f8; Shew Anastigmat f7.5; Goerz Double Anastigmat f7.7, f6.8; Zeiss f6.3; Zeiss Series III f8; Cooke f6.5; Dallmeyer Stigmatic f6; Bausch Aplanat f6; Aldis f6; Beck; Ross. Sizes: 3 ¼" x 4 ¼"; 5" x 4"; 6 ½" x 4 ¾".

Xit Goerz
1904 - c. 1909. An Aluminium Series Xit fitted with a Goerz Sector shutter and Goerz lens. Lenses: Goerz Series III f6.8 or Goerz Syntor. Sizes: 3 ¼" x 4 ¼"; 5" x 4"; 6 ½" x 4 ¾"; 5 ½" x 3 ½".

1905 - 1909. An Aluminium Series Xit fitted with a Koilos shutter. Optionally leather bound. Lenses: Goerz Series Id or Aldis f6. Sizes: 3 ½" x 2 ½"; 3 ¼" x 4 ¼"; 5" x 4"; 6 ½" x 4 ¾"; 5 ½" x 3 ½".

1909 model
Shutter: Compound until c. 1914 then an N&S Accurate and later an Optimo. Lenses: Ross Homocentric f6.3; Tessar f6.3; Goerz Syntor; Tessar f4.5; Cooke Series III f6.5; Cooke Series IV; Aldis f6. Sizes: 3 ½" x 2 ½"; 3 ¼" x 4 ¼"; 5" x 4"; 6 ½" x 4 ¾"; 5 ½" x 3 ½".

1909. Either glass or wire eye-level view-finder. Focusing lenses i.e. by moving front lens cell. Shutter: Compound. Lenses: Cooke 4.4" f6.5; Tessar; Dagor. Size: 3 ½" x 2 ½".

Junior Xit
c. 1907 - 1909. Sizes: 3 ¼" x 2 ¼".
  • Model 1. Aluminium bound mahogany or leather covered. Shutter: Bausch & Lomb Everset. Lens: Goerz Series Id f6.8.
  • Model 2. Aluminium bound mahogany or leather covered. Shutter: Koilos. Lens: Aldis f6.
  • Model 3. Mahogany finish without aluminium binding. Shutter: Koilos. Lens: Shew rapid rectilinear.

Post Card Xit
c. 1902 - c. 1905. Not aluminium bound. Shutter: Unicum. Lenses: Shew f8; Aldis Anastigmat f6, f7.7. Size: 5 ½" x 3 ½".

Guinea Xit
Simpler construction without binding. Shutter: Shew Central. Size: 3 ¼" x 4 ¼".

2 Guinea Xit
Simpler construction without binding. Shutter: Bausch & Lomb T & I. Lens: Rapid rectilinear f8. Size: 3 ¼" x 4 ¼".

3 Guinea Xit
Simpler construction without binding. Shutter: Thornton-Pickard behind the lens. Lens: Rapid rectilinear f8 with iris diaphragm. Size: 3 ¼" x 4 ¼".

4 Guinea Xit
Simpler construction without binding. Shutter: Unicum. Lens with iris diaphragm: Rapid rectilinear f8 or Aldis f6. Size: 3 ¼" x 4 ¼".

5 Guinea Xit
Simpler construction without binding. Shutter: Unicum. Lens: Aldis f6. Sizes: 3 ¼" x 4 ¼" or 4" x 5".

6 Guinea Xit
Aluminium bound version of the 5 Guinea model.

Day Xit
1914. Leather covered. Shutter: Ibso. Lens: Cooke Series III f6.5. Size: 3 ¼" x 4 ¼".

Convertible Xit
c. 1900 - 1908. Rising front, swing back with rack and pinion adjustment. Extra long extension to accommodate combinable lenses. Shutters: Unicum; Bausch & Lomb Everset; Goerz Sector; Focal-plane. Lenses: Zeiss Protar Series VIIa; Dallmeyer Stigmatic f6. Sizes: 3 ¼" x 4 ¼"; 5" x 4".

Tele Xit
1905. Extending front. Shutters: Bausch & Lomb Everset; Goerz Sector; Focal-plane. Lenses: Zeiss Protar Series VIIa; Dallmeyer Stigmatic f6. Sizes: 5" x 4"; 6 ½" x 4 ¾".

Twin-Lens Xit
Shutter: Bausch & Lomb; Thornton-Pickard roller-blind; Shew Rotary. Lenses: Eclipse; Goerz. Sizes: 3 ¼" x 4 ¼"; 6 ½" x 4 ¾".

Stereo Xit
Shutter: Thornton-Pickard roller-blind. Sizes: 6 ½" x 4 ¾"; 6 ¾" x 3 ¼".

Focal Plane Xit
1901. Shutters: Goerz Focal-plane, speeds 1/25 - 1/1200, from 1905 speeds 5s - 1/1000. Lenses: Dallmeyer Stigmatic f6; Goerz f4.8, f6.8; Zeiss Unar; Collinear f5.4; Cooke f6.5; Bausch Anastigmat. Sizes: 3 ¼" x 4 ¼"; 5" x 4"; 6 ½" x 4 ¾".


  • Extension back with baseboard for long-focus lenses.
  • Folding extension back with baseboard. This allows a larger plate size to be used.
  • Double dark-slides for plates and cut-film or cut-film only. Edwards' patent slides are sometimes found on early models.
  • Film pack adapter.
  • Shewgraph changing box for 60 cut-films or 12 plates.
  • Automatic changing box.
  • Roll-film holder.
  • Houghtons Envelope adapter.
  • Mackenzie-Wishart slide.
  • Focal-plane shutter.

Phot. Dealer May/1900, p. 114. The Photogram 1894, pp. 115, 118.


The first Adams camera to have this name was a strut type similar to the N&G Nydia. In late 1908 the name was reused for an all metal folding hand camera with lazy-tong struts. The camera was shown at the RPS exhibition of 1908 ready for the 1909 season. This second Vesta was made in several sizes and went through a number of modifications. The bulk of production must have been before the First World War, the camera was advertised up to the second war though with less emphasis from the late 1920s.

During the First World War production probably ceased, post-war cameras being fitted with the remaining Compound or other shutters. Only in late advertisements is the Compur shutter mentioned though from the mid 1920s the shutter used is said to be geared.

The 1910 models have a large horizontal focusing pinion at the front of the baseboard - this differs from the 1909 model. In 1911 the focusing was again changed to a small vertical wheel attached to a worm screw. The De Luxe models have faster lenses than the model A and, except for the VP size, have Identoscope finders. The position of the focusing scale and the method of releasing the front standard differs between models.

The direct-vision view-finder fitted to some models gives a very distorted image with a lot of curvature. The mirror behind the finder gave an upside down image. The Vesta was normally sold with a focusing screen and single metal slides, the film pack adapter was an alternative.


1909 Model
Introduced in 1908/09. Eye-level finder. Compound shutter.
  • 3 ½" x 2 ½" with f4.5 4 ½" or f6.3 4 ⅜" Tessar lens.
  • 3 ¼" x 4 ¼" with f4.5 6" or f6.3 5 ¼" Tessar lens.

1910 Model
Introduced in 1910. Same as 1909 model but with different focusing mechanism.

De Luxe
Introduced in 1911. Identoscope finder. Compound shutter. From c.1919 Ross Xpres or Cooke lenses were fitted except for the stereo model where an f6.8 Homocentric was recommended. Cooke lenses were dropped from the mid 1920s.
  • 3 ½" x 2 ½" with f4.5 4 ½" Tessar lens.
  • 3 ¼" x 4 ¼" with f4.5 6" or 5 ¼" (advertised from 1913) Tessar lens.
  • 5 ½" x 3 ½" introduced in 1912/13 f4.5 7 1/10" Tessar.
  • 5 ½" x 3 ½" Stereo with f6.3 4 ⅜" or 4 ½" Tessar lens.

Model A
Introduced in 1911. Eye-level finder. From c.1919 the shutter was probably an Acme.
  • 3 ½" x 2 ½" with f6.8 4" Ross Homocentric lens.
  • 3 ¼" x 4 ¼" with f6.8 5" Ross Homocentric lens.
  • 5 ½" x 3 ½" introduced c.1919.
  • 5 ½" x 3 ½" Stereo. Listed from 1924.

Focal Plane
Introduced in 1911. Identoscope finder. 1/8 - 1/1000. Not produced after World War I.
  • 3 ½" x 2 ½" with f4.5 4 ½" Tessar lens.
  • 3 ¼" x 4 ¼" with f4.5 5 ¼" or 6" Tessar lens.

Vest Pocket
Introduced in 1912. Eye-level finder. From c. 1919 listed with an f4.5 Ross Xpres and shortly afterwards with, optionally, an f6.8 Homocentric; from this point it was listed as a De-Luxe or A model. Discontinued after a few years.
  • 2 5/16" x 1 ¾" with f4.5 3" Tessar.

BP 11670/1905 (finder). BP 3630/1908. BJA 1909, pp. 274, 712. BJA 1910, p. 274. BJA 1911, pp. 270, 637, 700. BJA 1912, pp. 290, 701. BJA 1913, p. 728. BJA 1920, p. 150. BJA 1921, p. 146. BJA 1922, p. 154. BJA 1923, p. 142. BJA 1925, p. 114. BJA 1926, p. 110. BJA 1927, p. 105. BJA 1928, p. 105. BJA 1929, pp. 109, 353. BJA 1930, p. 112. BJA 1932, p. 75. BJA 1933, p. 70. AP 28/7/37. Phot. Journal 1908, p. xx. Adams Instruction Books. Thiele, Photooptik 1.

Tropical Carbine

The tropical version of the Carbine dates back to around 1922 when Butcher advertised a tropical version of the No. 6 (for 2 ¼" x 3 ¼" images). This was finished in black crystalline paint with Russia leather bellows.

By 1925 the finish was the familiar oxidised brass. This model had a choice of a 3 speed shutter or a Compur both with an Aldis lens.

In 1926 the No. 12 Watch Pocket Carbine (2 ½" x 4 ¼") was added, this had teak side panels with a brass front shell and back. Ross and Zeiss lenses were available for both sizes (No. 6 and No. 12). The finish at this point was described as 'copper oxidised Florentine bronze'.

In 1927 the No. 4 was added, this was a cheaper version of the No. 6 and was fitted with a 3 speed shutter. The No. 6 continued with a Compur shutter as did the No. 12.

By 1930 the No. 6 was replaced by the No. 7. The other two models remaining as before. The No. 7 survived until the late 1930s (renamed Tropical-Ensign-20 around 1936). The other two models ceased in the early 1930s. The No. 6 model (and No. 7) was available with a plate back to which could be fitted single metal slides, film pack adapters and a focusing screen.

The No. 7 took the same size film as the No. 6 but incorporated a number of new features, it was also noticeably taller. The changes were:

  • The back was now hinged and secured by a spring clip.
  • The film-winder was replaced by a round knob.
  • A hinged spool pin was fitted, patent no. 281802.
  • The focusing scale was moved to the left-hand side (when using the camera) and a radial focusing lever was fitted.
  • The Houghton-Butcher 'Film Register Device' was fitted, patent 280352.
  • A handle was added.
  • Cross front was added.

Rim-set rather than dial-set Compur shutters were fitted to late examples.

BJA 1923, p. 53. BJA 1926, p. 122. BJA 1927, pp. 117, 321. BJA 1928, pp. 125, 334. Ensign Cat. 1931, p. 16. Ensign Cat. 1934, p. 21. Ensign Cat. 1936, p. 28. Ensign Cat. 1937, p. 29. Butcher's British Cameras, 1924, pp. 16, 19.


The Ensignette was introduced in 1909 for 1 ½" x 2 ¼" exposures on special size roll-film. In form it is similar to the earlier Block-Notes (1902) but differs in using roll-film rather than plates. It is an early example of a miniature bellows, roll-film camera, a type which was to become popular with the introduction of the V.P.K. from Eastman (1912).

The camera was designed by Magnus Nièll. For its size it took large images, a point emphasised in advertisements along with the advantages of roll-film over plates. The Ensignette proved very popular, a number of different models were produced and in 1912 a larger version for 2" x 3" exposures was introduced.

The earliest cameras were made of brass with leather bellows (unpleated in the case of the smaller size). The finish was black with nickel fittings. For a few years prior to World War I a nickel plated model with red leather bellows was sold in each size (with a matching red leather case). From 1920 the camera body was made of aluminium. There were also slight constructional differences, notably the camera back was corrugated, necessary with the more pliable aluminium.

A Vest Pocket size for 1 ⅝" x 2 ½" exposures on 1J (127) roll-film was introduced in 1923, three years later production of the other sizes ceased, the VP model lasted a few more years.

Two other cameras with the Ensignette name were produced: Ensignette Junior (1913) and the Popular Ensignette (1922). These were strut type roll-film cameras for 2 ¼" x 3 ¼" exposures but do not resemble the smaller models.

Ensignette Models

No 1
For 6, 1 ½" x 2 ¼" exposures on E1 size roll-film. Introduced in 1909. Eastman produced 128 film for this camera in 1913.

No 2
For 6, 2" x 3" exposures on E2 roll-film. Introduced in 1912. Eastman produced 129 film for this camera in 1913.

A model 2 with a higher quality shutter.

Vest Pocket Ensign
Similar to a model 2 but uses the standard 127 size roll-film. Introduced in 1923.

No. 1 Nickel plated finish
Usually fitted with red bellows. c. 1912.

No. 2 Nickel plated finish
c. 1912.

No. 1 Gilt finish

No. 2 Gilt finish


  • The end tabs of the early model No 1 are plain. From around 1911 an embossed flag logo was added to the right-hand tab and patent details to the left-hand tab.
  • Aluminium body from 1920. The back of the camera is corrugated, there are elliptical bulges on the end tabs, a swivelling finder is present on the No. 1 as well as the No. 2. A speeded shutter is fitted to the simple models.


  • Swivelling direct-vision finder for fitting to the front plate, introduced around 1910.
  • Printing box for postcard size prints.
  • Daylight developing tank.
  • Portrait attachments, set of 3.
  • Tripod attachment.
  • Lady's suede bag.
  • Lady's Morocco wrist bag.
  • Solid leather case, black, brown or pigskin.

BP 28464/1907. BP 14489/1908. BP 165575/1920. BJA 1910, pp. 294, 688. BJA 1911, p. 297. BJA 1912, pp. 318, 746. BJA 1915, pp. 213, 568, 566. BJA 1917, p. 156. BJA 1921, p. 155. BJA 1922, pp. 165, 650. AP 29/3/1910, pp. xvi, supplement. Ensign Handbook. Houghton Cat. 1914.

Further Information:
Lothrop, Century, p.117.

Christie's Cat. 9/11/1989 lot 108. 3" x 2" presentation model no. 2892 with a label on the box: 'P/A1235/1/2/12'.

Super Ikonta

The Super Ikonta was produced in four sizes: A, B, C and D.

Early models of the A, C and D had a black finish and the shutter release on the shutter. With the introduction of the Model II in 1936 these earlier models were called the Model I. From 1937 the Model I was improved with the addition of a body-release, an Albada finder and a sliding cover to the red windows.

The Model II was produced in the A and C sizes, it had a body-release, an Albada finder, chrome finish and an interlock between the film advance and the shutter.

Mounted on the front standard are the rotating prisms of the rangefinder, these rotate as the lens is focused.

The Super-Ikonta was aimed at the advanced amateur, it was very successful and was re-introduced after the war. It was also a very usable camera that fitted the hand well especially in the 6 x 6 cm size.


SizeModelNo.Image SizeLens ShutterDate
AI53016, 6 x 4.5cmf3.5, 7 cm TessarCompur or Compur Rapid1934
AII531As abovef3.5, 7.5 cm TessarCompur Rapid1936
B530/1611, 6 x 6 cmf2.8 or f3.5, 8 cm TessarCompur Rapid1935
B532/16As abovef2.8, 8 cm TessarCompur Rapid1937Auto-stop on film advance. Single rangefinder/view-finder window.
B533/1612, 6 x 6 cmf2.8, 8 cm TessarCompur Rapid1939Exposure meter.
CI530/28, 6 x 9 cm or 16, 6 x 4.5 cmf4.5, 10.5 cm TriotarKlio1935
CI530/2As abovef4.5 10.5 cm TessarCompur or Compur Rapid1934
CI530/2As abovef3.8 10.5 cm TessarCompur or Compur Rapidc. 1935
CII531/2As abovef3.8 10.5 cm TessarCompur Rapid1936
CII531/2As abovef4.5 10.5 cm TessarCompur Rapidc. 1938
CII531/2As abovef3.5 10.5 cm TessarCompur Rapidc. 1938
DI530/158, 6.5 x 11 cm or 16, 6.5 x 5.5 cmf4.5, 12 cm TriotarKlioc. 1935
DI530/15As abovef4.5 12 cm TessarCompur or Compur Rapid1934

BP 405208/1934. BJA 1934, pp. 288, 553. BJA 1935, pp. 284, 550. BJA 1936, pp. 283, 546. BJA 1937, pp. 551, 552. BJA 1938, p. 559. BJA 1939, p. 555. ZI Cat. 1936, p. 20. ZI Cat. 1937, p. 20. Minit&Cine, 1938, p. 71. Minit&Cine, 1939, p. 150. ZI Cat."If only I had my Camera", 1939, p.38.

T-P Roller-Blind shutters

Shutter Models

TimeT and I settings. Cog wheel on upper roller. Single blind.1887 - 1892
InstantaneousI setting only. Without cog wheel. Single blind.c. 1889 - c. 1892
Time & InstantaneousT and I settings. Cog wheel on upper roller. Single blind.1892 -
StereoscopicMade in 'Time' and 'T&I' versions.1887 -
ForegroundT and I settings. 'Two blinds'. Gave more exposure to the foreground.
Probably a single blind wrapped around the bottom roller.
c. 1889 -
SpecialI setting only, speeds up to 1/200. 'Two blinds'. Without cog wheel.
Probably a single blind with cut-outs wrapped around a roller.
c. 1890 -
Extra RapidT and I settings, speeds up to 1/130. 'Two blinds'.
Probably a single blind with cut-outs wrapped around a roller.
c. 1889 -
Snap ShotI setting only. Without cog wheel. Single blind. Replaced 'Instantaneous'.c. 1890 -
Safety Snap ShotAs for Snap Shot but with capping blind.c. 1891 -
RoyalAs for T&I but fully enclosed in case.c. 1903 -
StudioB setting only for use with a bulb release.
Only advertised for a short time.
c. 1890
Studio, 2nd versionB setting only. Two blinds. Without setting cord.1894 -

The shutter is normally tensioned by pulling a cord at the bottom of the shutter, this turns the upper roller. On the end of the roller is a pinion that operates a cog-type setting wheel on the outside of the case which was held by the release arm. On some models, such as the Snap-shot, there was no cog wheel, the upper roller turned a disc with indentations which were engaged by the release arm.


These mainly apply to the Time and T&I models.

Setting Wheel
On the very early Time shutter the setting wheel was rotated by a knob attached to the upper roller. In 1889 a setting cord and internal pulley were introduced. The setting wheel contains two small projections, which can be held by the release lever, the first provides a focusing position, the other engages when the shutter is fully wound. A third projection is raised slightly and engages the release arm when set to Time (actually a B setting). Originally these projections were part of the setting wheel, later they were on a separate disc and screwed to the setting wheel.

In 1903 the setting cord was optionally made retractable after setting.

Release Arm
The early release arm was attached at the bottom of the shutter, around 1890 it was attached at the top. In 1892 it gained a flat projecting piece that gave a better fitting for the rubber release bulb.

The image above far right shows a model fitted with a straight release arm, the middle image shows the modified release arm with projecting piece, the last image shows a late setting wheel.

Speed indicator
The speed was either shown on a small ivorine disc which showed the speed for a particular number of turns of the tensioning knob or a ratchet device showed the speed as the tensioning knob was rotated. A pawl is normally fitted, this may not have been present on the very earliest examples.

Joints and Finish
The earliest shutters used simple half-lap joints at the corners of the casing, this was later changed to fine finger joints, later still (c. 1914 - 1918) the finger joints became much thicker.

The polish on the wood becomes noticeably red around 1914/1918 and later has a very high gloss. The brass parts on late examples are also more highly polished prior to being lacquered.

The image on the far right shows the fine finger joints, the second image shows the later thick finger joints and a transfer name plaque.

Name Plaque
According to Holliday the first name plaques were rectangular and on the front of the shutter. In 1890 the familiar round ivorine disc was used, also on the front of the shutter. Probably in 1893 the disc was inlaid on the top edge of the shutter. The simple script that had been used for the company name was later replaced by an ornate script. Around the First World War period (after the change to thick finger joints) a round transfer replaced the ivorine disc.

At first the shutter fitted to the lens hood, from around 1891 a behind-the-lens model was available. In 1894 a Combined Lens and Shutter had the shutter operating between the lens. This model had a safety blind fitted and was made in aluminium. The Special could also be fitted between the lens elements.

Safety Blind
This was available as an option from 1891, early forms comprised a separate box having a second roller-blind screwed to the front of a normal shutter with the two cords were joined at their ends. In 1893 the safety blind fitted inside the normal shutter case. The setting cord now retracted after setting.


Rubber lens grips were introduced around 1890.

A Regulating Fan was available from 1890 giving exposure down to ½ second. It fitted along the top of the shutter and impeded rotation of the roller.

A Time valve fitting in the pneumatic release tube was available in 1898 giving exposures down to 3 seconds.

In 1904 a 'Compressor' was available for use with the Time valve, it comprised a metal wedge that fitted around the pneumatic release to standardise the volume of air pushed into the Time valve.

BP 12238/1886. BP 511/1890. BP 12976/1894. BP 1924/1895. BP 3240/1898. BP 22207/1903. BP 23670/1903. BP 20330/1904. BJA 1888, p. 683. BJA 1890, pp. 132, 824. BJA 1892, pp. 749, 955. BJA 1893, p. 279. BJA 1899, pp. 913, 1242. BJA 1900, p. 1224. BJA 1902, p. 1254. BJA 1904, p. 1287. BJA 1905, p. 1263. PA 1891, pp. clxxi, 450. YBP 1888. YBP 1889, p. ciii. YBP 1891, p. cii. YBP 1895. The following roller-blind patents are by J.E. Thornton but were not made use of: BP 17516/1891, 12528/1898, 6628/1899, 10933/1899; 11600/1899, 5522/1904. The following roller-blind patents are by T-P but were not made use of: BP 27962/1903, 20327/1904, 20800/1905, 405/1906, 17358/1906, 6785/1907.
The best source of information on T-P shutters is Holliday, Thornton-Pickard Cameras & Equipment.

Soho Reflex


Folding Minex





Tropical Carbine


Super Ikonta

T-P Roller-Blind shutters