Focal Plane Imperial - Antique and Vintage Cameras

Focal Plane Imperial

Model of c. 1914

Thornton-Pickard Manufacturing Co.



Image of Focal Plane Imperial Model of c. 1914

f4.5, 7 1/10" Zeiss Tessar. Iris diaphragm to f32. The lens also carries the Ross name. Serial no. 81969 .

Thornton-Pickard Focal-Plane, speeds 1/25 - 1/1000. Focusing position.

Thornton-Pickard T&I roller-blind, speeds 1/15 - 1/60.

Mahogany, finger joints. Black leather bellows with diagonal corners.

6 " x 4 " plates held in double dark-slides.

Bellows focusing to c. 24". Triple extension. Three focusing pinions operating the inner frame (forward movement) situated at the front, outer frame (backward movement) at the back of the bed, a further rack and pinion moves the rear standard along the bed. Straight cut rack and pinion.

Removable lens panel. Reversing back. Turntable in base.

Rising front, cross front (limited due to the size of shutter), tilting front, tilting back.


  • 4 double dark-slides.
  • Eye-level direct-vision finder, single lens.
  • Instruction book. T-P case.

The Focal Plane Imperial was introduced in 1907, it was based on the Triple Extension Imperial but included a built-in focal-plane shutter in addition to a roller-blind placed behind the lens. There were a few variations:

  • When introduced the Focal Plane was available in half-plate size only, the focal-plane shutter had a single slit and gave speeds between 1/100 - 1/500 by varying the spring tension.
  • The 1908 model had three slits: one, full width, for focusing; a second of around 1 " for slower speeds and a narrow slit for fast speeds. The speed range is given as 1/20 - 1/1000.
  • The 1909 model had speeds of 1/25 - 1/1000 (this may have in effect been the same as the 1908 model).
  • In 1914 a whole-plate size was listed.

Other variation followed the ordinary Triple Extension Imperial specification, notably the 'Three-Bar Front' introduced in 1909/10, this is noticeable by two horizontal brass strips on the cross front. Around 1914, the rear standard was placed on a focusing rack with a focusing pinion on the right (when in use) and a locking ring on the left.

The focal-plane shutter has three slits, a knob on the right of the camera (when in use) winds the shutter to the first position which is full width for focusing, a small button on the left when pressed allows the blind to be wound further to the second or third slit for exposure. When set the slit number is shown on the blind.

The Triple Extension Imperial was a mid-range field camera introduced in 1904.

References & Notes:
BJA 1907, p. 245. BJA 1908, p. 203. BJA 1909, pp. 207, 735. BJA 1910, p. 183. BJA 1911, p. 186. BJA 1912, p. 190. BJA 1913 p. 200. BJA 1914, p. 212.

Further Information:
Holliday, Thornton-Pickard Cameras & Equipment.

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