Tropical Una - Antique and Vintage Cameras

Tropical Una

James A. Sinclair & Co. Ltd

London

England

Image of Tropical Una

Lens:
f5.5, 4 ¾" Ross Combinable. Combinable lens of two f11, 8" components. Iris diaphragm to f45 combined and f64 back component. Serial no. 109830 109829 (c. 1926).

Shutter:
N&S Perfect, three-blade diaphragm type, spring powered, pneumatic regulation, speeds 1/2 - 1/100, T setting by short pressure when set to 1/2. Serial no. 587.

Construction:
Polished Spanish mahogany with brass fittings, dovetail joints. Black leather bellows, brown focusing hood.

Format:
2 ½" x 3 ½" plates held in double dark-slides.

Focusing:
Bellows to 19" with combined lens, 39" with back component only. Focusing scales to 2 yards with combined lens, 3 yards with back lens. Triple extension.

Attributes:
Reflecting view-finder marked for single and combined lens, parallax markings on view-finder. 'T' spirit level. Revolving back. Depth-of-field scale for combined lens. Removable hood on focusing screen. Rising front flap on body for wide-angle work.

Movements:
Rising front, tilting front.

Notes:
In use for long focus work the front element is removed and replaced by a ring, the front standard is pulled right out and the triple-extension slide extended, the focusing index then aligns with the infinity mark on the focusing scale.
Address on camera: 54 Haymarket, London, S.W. (1904 - 1926).
Retailer's label inside case: Arthur Gask & Co. 60 Conduit St. Regent St. London. W.

With:

  • Hooded focusing screen.
  • 3 block-form double dark-slides (1 - 6) with Auto catch. 1 Autochrome double dark-slide. Film pack adapter.
  • Lens ring, this screws into the shutter when the front component is removed allowing the lens hood to be attached.
  • Sinclair View-finder. Frame finder, marked for 4 ¾" and 8" lenses.
  • Sinclair collapsible lens hood. Wratten KIII filter to fit lens hood, in case with Sinclair label.
  • Case by Sinclair.
  • Watkins Bee meter. With instructions (13th ed. c. 1922/1923). In box.

Tropical Una

Model of 1926

James A. Sinclair & Co. Ltd

London

England

Image of Tropical Una

Lens:
f6.5, 5 ½" Ross Combinable. Combinable lens of two f11, 9 ½" components. Iris diaphragm to f45 combined and f64 back component. Serial no. 119928 119929 (c. 1930).

Shutter:
N&S Perfect, three-blade diaphragm type, spring powered, pneumatic regulation, speeds 1/2 - 1/100, T setting by short pressure when set to 1/2.

Construction:
Polished Spanish mahogany with brass binding and fittings, dovetail joints. Black leather bellows, brown focusing hood.

Format:
3 ¼" x 4 ¼" plates held in double dark-slides.

Focusing:
Bellows to 2 feet with combined lens, 4' 2" with back component only. Focusing scales to 1 yard for combined lens, 2 yards for back lens and 3 yards with accessory 120 mm Tessar. Triple extension.

Attributes:
Reflecting view-finder marked for single and combined lens, parallax markings on view-finder. 'T' spirit level. Revolving back. Depth-of-field scale for combined lens. Removable hood on focusing screen. Rising front flap on body for wide-angle work.

Movements:
Rising front, tilting front.

Notes:
Address plaque - James A. Sinclair & Co Ltd. 9 & 10 Charing Cross. London. (1926 - 1930).

With:

  • f4.5, 120mm Zeiss Tessar lens. Iris diaphragm to f45. Bayonet mount fitting onto Compur shutter. Serial no. 395354 (c. 1920).
  • Dial-set Compur shutter, speeds 1 - 1/200. On Sinclair panel. Serial no. 968228.
  • Hooded focusing screen.
  • 2 block-form double dark-slides (5/6, 5./6.). 1 Autochrome double dark-slide (1/2).
  • Sinclair View-finder. Sinclair collapsible lens hood. Watson cable release.
  • Case by Sinclair.

Tropical Una

James A. Sinclair & Co. Ltd

London

England

Image of Tropical Una

Lens:
f6.8, 7" Ross Homocentric, iris diaphragm to f45. Serial no. 90634 (c. 1919).

Shutter:
Wollensak Lukos Express, speeds 1 - 1/300, T, B. Serial no. 35059.

Construction:
Polished Spanish mahogany with brass binding and fittings, dovetail joints. Black leather bellows, brown focusing hood.

Format:
6 ½" x 4 ¾" plates held in double dark-slides.

Focusing:
Bellows to 2 yards. Secondary focusing scale for focal-plane shutter. Triple extension.

Attributes:
'T' spirit level. Revolving back. Depth-of-field scale. Removable hood on focusing screen. Rising front flap on body for wide-angle work. Supplementary focusing index for use with focal-plane shutter.

Movements:
Rising front, tilting front.

Notes:
This model was made after World War I when the N&S shutter was no longer made in larger sizes. There are fittings on the top of the camera, on the focal-plane shutter and on the lens panel possibly for attaching a large direct-vision finder.
Address on camera: James A. Sinclair & Co Ltd. 54 Haymarket. London S.W. Ex. Barron collection.

With:

  • Secondary focal-plane shutter. Thornton-Pickard Ruby, speeds 1/10 - 1/1000, T.
  • Hooded focusing screen.
  • 4 block-form double dark-slides. (3 - 10); Film pack adapter. Case by Sinclair.

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.

Variations

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.

Shutters

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.

Sizes

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.

References & Notes:
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.

Illustrations:
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.


Company Details:

Sinclair & Co.

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