Can you identify this camera?

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by craig_supplee, Jan 27, 2008.

  1. I picked this 6.5x9 camera up the other day, and I cannot find out who it was
    made by. I have been through McKeown's 12th ed. page by page twice, and don't
    see an identical camera picture. It came with the ground glass back that is on
    the camera, a pack film back, and 6 single sheet backs. Several of the single
    backs are ribbed on the outside running vertically. The pack film back has a
    real nice ice crystal look black paint on the outside. Thanks for any help.
  2. Camera back
  3. Those are tough. I always consider Certo (not this one, I think), then when I see that silver trim, I think Welta or Wirgin (Less likely Ihagee).

    The Compur shutter suggests post-1930. That looks like a nice camera. I rarely get evidence about whether my guess is correct or not, but I'll vote Wirgin.
  4. Maybe a Zeiss Ideal variation?
  5. Hi, Craig Unfortunately, a lot of plate cameras of this type are "no-name" jobs for strange prewar retailing reasons which I've never quite understood, since not many reel folders are "no-name". It's known that Wirgin were a prolific manufacturer of such "no-name" plate cams, so I'd go with Mark here. However, reputedly Ihagee were up to it , too.

    Clue-wise, the rimset Compur indicates post-1930 so it can't be a Zeiss-Ikon or any of the former companies like ICA, Ernemann, etc, that joined the conglomerate. The film back may not be an original item, so I wouldn't go too much on it. Although so many of these German-made plate cameras look similar no matter who made them, they do tend to have one distinguishing feature and that's the side struts. Could you maybe take a close-up of one such strut, because we might be able to make a better guesstimate based on that? (Pete In Perth)
  6. It looks like a Kamera-Werkstätten Guthe and Thorsh GmbH Dresden
    In 1919 Paul Guthe and Benno Thorsch, founded the Kamera-Werkstätten Guthe and Thorsh GmbH, Dresden.They made cameras under this name into the 30's You might find just a KW marked on it.
  7. Side view. Only markings on camera are on the handle strap which says "made in germany in a elongated pointed end oval pattern. Camera is also a double extension, which I don't understand, as this does not come into play if you have the camera set to infinity. If you turn the focus wheel past tha, it does move the rail, but this is only about 1/4", and the rail can come our a few inches.
  8. Hi, I have an original of this type of camera but it is at my brothers house, and I have seen it in a book but I can't think of the name of the book. It has a name on it, but I haven't seen the camera for some time so I just can't think of it, with the proper name it is easy to find, last I saw it was estimated at a value of ?400 (an original that is) I will try and get back to you in a few days....phil
  9. Hi, If I remember rightly when you extend the double rail out it takes macro shots it also has tilt and shift on it.
  10. Well so far it doesn't appear to be any of the above listed cameras based on pictures and decriptions in McKeown's. So far it looks closest to a Thowe, but there are differences, and my no name seems to have been a quality camera judging from the fit and finish. But then again, things were built different 70 years ago.
  11. try this link
  12. Phil, I just tried taking the rails out all the way, and I can have a can of dust off in focus at about 9 inches from the front of the lens. It doesn't have provisions for tilt, but you can shift the lens up/down and side to side. I would love to find a roll film back for this! I'm not really set up to develop single negs.
  13. A double extension bellows allows you to use a lens twice as long as the normal one (or to go seriously macro), without having the bellows flop or sag too much in normal use.

    I'm not sure how the camera you're looking at is arranged, but on the Zeiss Maximar and Voigtlander Avus, the infinity stop has a spring in it to allow you to pull the lens board past it, which in combination with racking the focus out allows for a lot of extension.

    Zeiss made auxiliary tele lenses for the Maximar and Trona, which required the extension.
  14. Hi Craig, here's a picture of a well-worn Thowe; it has the name across the back, although it's difficult to see in this shot. This one obviously has weathered a few more storms than your's, but it still has a beauty all its own.
  15. Hi, Craig Thanks for the sideview pic, mate, which I've enlarged and skulduggerised with Irfanview to produce this pic of the sidestrut. I've got over 20 plate cameras, pre and post WW1, from manufacturers like Zeiss, AGFA, Glunz, Contessa-Nettel, Ihagee, Wirgin, Huttig, Krugener and even GOMZ from the old USSR. None have a sidestrut remotely like yours - the usual is either a dog-leg or elbow shape, or a straight one with an internal cutaway for the sliding pin. So, I reckon you need to do some more research for another plate camera with that unusual side strut. For reasons already discussed, it may well be a "name". By the way, don't think the "no-name" aspect is in any way a put-down or an indication of a lesser quality product. Many of these "no-namers" have top specs with quality fast lenses, double-extension bellows and all the good bits and bobs like spirit levels, rise and fall, sports viewfinders, etc. It was just marketing reasons that kept the company's monicker off. (Pete In Perth)
  16. Here is why many cameras are "no name." They were sold by one of the major retailers like B&J. They often times contracted with the smaller manufacturers to make cameras and then sold them with the endorsement of some major photographers, like Edward Weston. If I had to throw in my two cents worth, I would guess Ica. Probably made in the immediate post merger period before they knew what to call Zeiss Ikon. Just a guess though. There is one other thing that we have not considered--the lens and shutter my not belong on the body, perhaps it is not a German camera at all, maybe English, American, French, or Italian, who knows.
  17. Forget what I said about Ica, it sure looks like a Welta by the hinge pattern. Look on pages 984-988 of the Mckeowns guide. I know it does not perfectly match any pictured, but keep in mind if it was sold under license, the retailer may have mixed and matched features, for the product they wanted.

  18. Craig, what is the lens? I can see Carl Zeiss but that is all.

    I also have a camera similar to this but with a wooden body. I have never been able to trace the manufacturer despite much trying. Still, no harm in trying!
  19. On the first pic I can clearly read "Tessar" on the lens. AFAIK none of the low-end Zeiss lenses like Novar etc. were ever mounted on other manufacturers' cameras.

    Concerning the "name - no-name", in pre-war Germany even some local shops sold cameras manufactured by others (mostly smaller manufacturers) under their own name, mostly for the low-end market. Since this camera is equipped top-notch (for a plate camera) with rim-set Compur and Tessar lens I think it was rather made by one of the major manufacturers.

    Some time ago I was thinking about a "guide to plate cameras and folders by their strut/spreader mechanism". Each manufacturer had its own folding mechanism.
  20. Mark, I think you've hit the nail on the head here! I've not had a lot to do with Welta stuff, other than owning a Welti 35mm for a short time before somebody dangled a Diax prevocatively in front of my eyes and we did a swap. I digress.

    After looking at the Welta pages in McK's, I think the Welta Watson is as close to Craig's Mystery Cam as we're ever going to find. Not only does that strange sidestrut hinge look familiar, but there's also that nickel (?) plated protective strip around the front edge of the box. Not many plate cameras have that.

    Craig, I think the Defence Rests. You've undoubtedly got a Welta-made "no-namer" from the 1930 to 1936-ish era, made under contract for some big retail outfit. If the focussing guide is in feet, you could safely suspect a US or British outlet. If it's in metres, obviously a Eurpopean Continetal destination. If it's in both feet/metres, I give up!

    I hadn't noticed the Zeiss lens connection which Colin has brought up, but that may help you date it closer. Zeiss lenses from late 1930 have a s/no around 1239700; by late 1933 they were at 1456000; by end 1936 they had reached 1942800. (Pete In Perth)
  21. The lens reads: Carl Zeiss Jena Nr 1224649 Tessar 1:4.5 f=10.5cm. Focus guide is in feet. The struts are similar to the Welta Watson, but they are solid without the slot. The inner guide is slotted. Other differences are the pull out lugs are round and knurled on mine, and the shutter is a rim set. Handle mounts are mounted to the side of the case.

    Well, whatever name it may have had, it is a really nice camera that will look great on display. My great appreciation to all of you for your help and interest in this camera. Thanks.
  22. My info gives a date for the Tessar of 1930 (922488 - 1239897). The rim-set compur is right for that, having been introduced in c. 1928.
  23. That was a bit of fun!
  24. Craig, some things to bear in mind.

    First, A lag of maybe a year from manufacture date of a lens to installation in a camera was quite normal. I guess the more common the camera, the quicker the turnaround time, and vice-versa.

    Second, progressive detail differences like knurled adjustment knobs compared to elliptic ones are common. McK's doesn't have the available page space to show each and every minor update on relatively long production models, so you shouldn't assume that your Camera X is going to look exactly like their pic of Camera Y. If they did, McK's would be of three volumes instead of one and cost a large fortune instead of the relatively small one that it does.

    I think this has been an excellent brain-storming identification exercise, showing just what the combined efforts of folks around the world can come up with in a relatively short time. Winfried's comments that perhaps a learned treatise on the identification of German plate cams by strut/hinge characteristics is heartily endorsed - I have at least three "no-namers" that I'm still undecided about regarding heritage. (Pete In Perth)
  25. Peter, you are of course correct in your assesment on model changes. It happens all the time in other products, they call it running design or model changes/updates. Perhaps for cost efficiencies or improvement. It has been fun reading everyones comments and ideas about this and old cameras in general. Again, my great thanks to you all for your help. Not knowing about a camera does allow your imagination to have a little fun!
  26. try Kodak recomar
    it resembles mine that is in a box somewhere.
  27. Craig,

    Having considered the evidence, I can now say with complete certainty that the camera you have was made by Welta. Any small variations as stated above could be mid model year changes that do not show up in the McK. book. Also, please keep in mind that the camera manufactures of the day were perfectly willing to mix and match options for the customer, such as Burke and James, or B&H. So the lack of straps, front standard variation, or the type of lens shutter used were more than likely chosen by the customer, and sold to order. Most Welta customers would have opted for a lesser lens, in a simple shutter, but whomever purchased your camera got the top of the line lens and shutter, and you can thank them for it when you use this camera.

    The method of looking at the hinges is what lead me to the Welta ID, and it took me maybe 10 minutes with the McK. guide! But I am bragging...

  28. Mark, I agree. Welta it is. Now we have to help Colin solve his 'no name' mystery camera in the next thread. Time to dig back into McK's.
  29. "So ... the type of lens shutter used were more than likely chosen by the customer, and sold to order."

    This was not only the case with major resellers. Many old folding cameras were available with quite a few different shutter/lens combos. I once saw a reprint of a mediocre pre-war folding camera advertisement, listing more than a dozen shutter/lens combos.

    The trick of the resellers was to order huge quantities of a camera equipped with the same parts, and so they sometimes could sell this very special model cheaper than the original manufacturer who had to keep many variations on stock.
  30. The Kodak Tourist is an example of a camera that seems to have come in a wide variety of shutters and lenses. Addressing the earlier question about double extension bellows, as it happens, my recently acquired Voigtlander Avus came with what I first took to be a yellow filter, but discovered was a stacked filter and auxiliary tele lens ("T Focar 7"). The picture below shows the extension required to focus it on an object about 20 feet away.

Share This Page