Tella - Antique and Vintage Cameras



No. 3

Tella Camera Co. Ltd.



Image of Tella No. 3

f6.5, 5.15" T.T.H. Cooke Series III, iris diaphragm to f32. Serial no. 6389 .

Adams Yale. Sector, between-the-lens, speeds 1/2 - 1/100, spring powered, pneumatic regulation.

Leather covered wood body.

50, 3 ¼" x 4 ¼" cut films.

Sliding box scale to 2 yards.

Rise and cross front.

Serial Number:
3033 .

The Tella is one of a small number of cameras produced around this time using cut film. The camera was patented by A.L. Adams and early cameras were sold by the Adams company in 1898, in 1899 the Tella Camera Co. Ltd was formed to market the camera, the Adams patents being passed to the new company. The cameras must have continued to be made at the Adams factory.

Early models were fitted with a Ross lens, for 1899 the camera is shown as being updated, three models are listed: No. 2 with a fixed focus f8 Kugel lens, magnifiers were available for focusing; No. 3 with an f6.5 Cooke lens, focusing and rising front and No. 4 similar to the No. 3 but for 4" x 5" films rather than quarter-plate. The Tella did not achieve the success of the Frena which also took cut films and few examples are seen today.

The changing mechanism is ingenious but quite intricate, it had the advantage over other models of being able to be loaded with any film of the right size. The basis of the mechanism is a frame that lifts a film from one chamber to another this is referred to as a septum in the patent and works on a push-pull operation. The films are loaded into the back of the camera, between each film is an 'insertion piece' this is a small piece of celluloid or other material that slides on runners and lies behind and a little way above each film. To load the camera the septum is drawn out and the first film placed in the back of the camera followed by an insertion piece attached to the runner, the rest of the films are loaded similarly. The septum is then pushed back into the camera. The septum consists of a flat brass plate and two rods with shaped ends. As the septum is pushed into the camera the ends of the rods meet the first insertion piece and push it, along with all the films behind it, backwards, when pushed fully home the brass plate will then lie behind the first film, behind the brass plate will be the first insertion piece and the remaining films and insertion pieces. The ends of the rods are also shaped to hook underneath the film in front of the brass plate. After exposure the camera is positioned lens down and the septum is withdrawn in doing this the exposed film is lifted and moves with the septum, it meets some guide pieces that divert the film to a second chamber. The next film is pushed to the exposing position and the first insertion piece drops off the runners. Attached to the bottom of the septum is a roller-blind, as the septum is withdrawn the blind is unwound and roughly covers the film area. When the insertion piece drops off the runners it is caught by the roller blind and guided to a third chamber. The chamber that receives the exposed films is at the bottom of the camera and is accessed by a removable panel below the lens. The insertion pieces are diverted to a small chamber at the top of the camera which is accessed by a small sliding panel in the side of the camera. As the films move into the exposed chamber they move a frame counter, there is also an indicator to show whether there is film in the camera.

An earlier Tella still in existence has the shutter speed selected by a sliding knob, the change to a circular dial also occurred on the Yale camera.

According to the Photographic Dealer the name 'Tella' is derived from there being an indicator showing if there is no film, i.e. it tells you.

References & Notes:
BP 29506/1897. BP 10966/1898. Phot. Dealer Aug 1898, p. 42. BJA 1899, p. 348. BJA 1900, pp. 898, 1371. BJA 1901, p. 951. BJA 1902, p. 30. BJP 29/7/1898, p. 494. BJP 5/5/1899, p. 283. Photographic Journal Vol. 39 1/9/1898, p.19.

Company Details:

Tella Camera Co.




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