Film Packs

The term Film Pack is now generally applied to the Premo Film Pack introduced in 1903 by the Rochester Optical Co. based on a patent by J.E. Thornton.1 Other film pack arrangements were developed around the same time but did not have the same commercial success.

The systems differ in detail but the essentials were that a number of cut films were held by, or attached to, a paper backing with tabs by which they could be moved from the front to the back of the pack. Several methods of attaching individual films to a roll of film were proposed but were not put into production.

The films had tabs attached to them, after exposure they were pulled from one part (unexposed) of an envelope to the other (exposed), the envelope was folded in half when inserted into the camera. Used on the Pocket Cyko.2

In the Premo Film Pack each film was attached to an individual backing paper having a tab that looped around a divider and protruded from a slot in the case. After exposure the tab was pulled which moved the film to behind the divider. The case of the Film Pack was of cardboard or light metal and fitted into a Film Pack Adapter which took the place of a dark-slide. The Premo adapter consisted of a simple frame having a door through which the pack could be loaded and a slot through which the tabs protruded. Before use the Film Pack was light-tight, after the first exposure the next film was ready for exposure so a draw-slide in the adapter was used if removed from the camera or the shutter was not self-capping.3

Beck Zambex Original version 1904
The Zambex skeleton (the paper holder for the film) could be re-loaded after use with ordinary cut-film or plates. Two types of skeleton were produced for films or plates. The skeleton was a strip of paper folded like a concertina with film attached to each forward-facing fold. The skeleton was housed in an outer envelope double the length of the skeleton, the envelope was folded in half to fit into the camera back. A paper tab was attached to each fold, pulling this moved the film (with its skeleton backing) from the unexposed to the exposed half of the envelope. To do this the back of the camera was opened and the envelope unfolded. To remove the skeleton, even to fit the focusing screen, all the exposed films had to be pulled back to the unexposed half of the envelope.4

The concertina backing was anticipated by R. Krügener in a detective camera. After exposure the backing paper was pulled which, as it passed over a roller, deposited the film in a top compartment of the camera and then passed out of the camera.5 Another concertina arrangement was sold by David Allan in the Creel camera where the backing paper was wound onto a take-up spool.6

Beck Zambex Improved version 1906
The skeleton was redesigned; the concertina backing paper was done away with, each film now fitted into its own paper surround to which a tab was attached. The double-length outer envelope was retained and a tab was still used to pull the films from the unexposed portion to the exposed portion of the envelope. The skeleton was fitted with a draw-slide making it easier to remove the pack of films and fit a focusing screen. The skeleton was only suitable for film.7

References & Notes

[1] J.E. Thornton, BP 4995/1898. Thornton continued to work on film pack devices and patented a number of ideas including the incorporation of coloured filters for Autochrome and similar processes - BP 29631/1904, BP 11033/1906, BP 11346/1906, BP 11884/1906, BP 12003/1906, BP 12004/1906.

[2] BP 21510/1899.

[3] Rochester Optical Co. BP 9013/1903. BP 9014/1903. BJA 1904, p. 907.

[4] F.O. Bynoe, C. Beck, BP 15277/1902.

[5] R. Krügener, BP 18899/1892. Sold by Marion as the Simplex (BJA 1894, pp. 8, 835). Somewhat similar is BP 13926/1892 by Parsons which was sold by Levi & Co. as the Nalda, YBP 1894, pp. 300B, 515.

[6] F. Liddell, A.M. Dillon, BP 25461/1897. BJA 1899, pp. 914, 1402.

[7] F.O. Bynoe, C. Beck, BP 14022/1903. BP 922/1904. BJA 1907, p. 900.

Film Packs

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