Al-Vista - Antique and Vintage Cameras


Model 5b

c. 1900

Multiscope & Film Co.



Image of Al-Vista Model 5b

f6.8, 124 mm Goerz Doppel Anastigmat Series III. Waterhouse stops. Serial no. 138616 .

Probably the Multiscope no. Serial no. 4174 .

Exposure effected by sweep of the lens across film. The speed of the lens sweep is controlled by vanes attached to the base of the camera, these offer greater or lesser air resistance. The vanes give the following exposures: Vane 1, 3 sec sweep time, ⅛ sec exposure; Vane 2, 6 sec, sec exposure; Vane 3, 8 sec, 1/3 sec exposure; Vane 4, 10 sec; Vane 5, 12 sec, sec exposure.

Morocco leather covered wood body.

4, 5" x 12" exposures on 104 roll-film. Provision for exposing 4", 6", 8" and 10" wide pictures. Curved film plane.


Removable brilliant view-finder.
Film advance indicated by counter, not coupled.
Ball-bearing type 'Spirit' level. Film counter marked in inches. Film punch.

Serial Number:
144 .

Retailer's address on case: Sands & Hunter. 20 Cranbourn St. London.

5 vanes. 2 Waterhouse stops in pouch, f8, f11. Leather case.

The first model of the Al-Vista was introduced in c. 1897. The model here is the improved version of c. 1900.

The Al-Vista pre-dates the Kodak Panoram and had many additional features. Looking into the lens, the take-up spool is on the left. As the shutter is tensioned the lens moves to the right. The length of film to be exposed is now set on the top of the camera. When the shutter is released the lens sweeps across the film and is stopped by a bar which was positioned when the exposure length was set. As the lens is stopped by the bar a baffle moves behind the lens to block the light. Advancing the film operates a film counter. A punch is provided so that individual frames can be marked and cut off prior to development.

The camera is based on a patent by Peter Nickolaus Angsten.


Several sizes were produced including:

  • Baby 2 " spool.
  • 3B 3 " x 4 " and 3 " x 9" exposures.
  • 4B 4" x 4" - 4" x 12".
  • 4G 4" x 5" - 4" x 10".
  • 5B 5" x 4" - 5" x 12".
  • 5D 5" x 6" - 5" x 16".
  • 7E 7" x 10 " - 7" x 21".
  • 7D 7" x 7 " - 7" x 15".

A rapid rectilinear lens was generally fitted, the Goerz was a more expensive option. Several minor variations exist e.g. position of film punch.

In Britain the camera was sold by Houghton and others, Hinton claims to have first imported the camera to Britain in 1899. The price of the model shown here was 13.0.0.

References & Notes:
BP 21830/1904. BP 17044/1900. BJA 1900, p. 1425. BJA 1901, pp. 1464, 1508. BJA 1902, p. 378. BJA 1903, pp. 382, 922. BJA 1905, p. 349.

Further Information:
Lothrop, Century, p.97. Coe, Cameras, p.176. US Pat. 671154/1901.

Cotter, Reflections, p.68. Early model.

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