|image by PASPEY (Image rights)|
The Cyclope has an unusual configuration, with a rigid body and a folded light path, the rays emerging from the lens being reflected by two mirrors before hitting the film. The purpose of this construction is to make a rigid camera with a standard 105mm lens without being too thick. It is supposed to be less fragile than a bellows camera, especially in extreme climatic conditions (an advertisement says that it is "recommended for colonials"). Other advantages boasted in advertisements are that it is always ready to shoot, and that the lens-to-film distance cannot go off.
Two Japanese cameras announced in 1952, the 4.5×6 Tomy and the 6×6 Rich-Ray-6, have a comparable system, maybe influenced by the Cyclope. However the latter's design is more radical: the film runs along the front of the body and the lens is offset to the top, looking like a cyclop's eye, hence the camera's name.
|image by PASPEY (Image rights)|
The Cyclope is easily recognized by the position of the lens, centred above the top plate. The body shape is symmetrical, a symmetry only broken by the tubular finder, at the left of the lens. The rest of the top plate is smooth, and there is no accessory shoe. However a 1952 advertisement announces an auxiliary rangefinder specially designed by Alsaphot for the Cyclope, without showing any picture of it.
The mirror compartment protrudes from the back, and the latter does not open. To load the film, the bottom plate is removable together with the film holders, picture frame and pressure plate. The bottom is locked by a key at the center, and supports the tripod screw and the film advance key. Film advance is controlled via a red window, located in front of the body and protected by a sliding cover. Opposite this cover is a plate with the ALSAPHOT logo (an example has been observed where this plate was left unengraved). The name CYCLOPE is engraved in red below the shutter housing, on a metal plate held by four screws, to access the bottom mirror.
The details specific of a given version are discussed below.
The Cyclope was announced in 1949 and released in 1950. The early version, or f:4.5 version, priced FF18,000 is equipped with a front-cell focusing Saphir 105/4.5 lens by Boyer. The shutter is a Prontor II giving T, B, 175–1 speeds, having a self-timer but no flash synchronization. There is a long lever under the shutter housing, probably the shutter release. The aperture is set by an index on a scale above the shutter. The speed setting is repeated above the shutter too. The shutter plate is black, with Gauthier G.m.b.H. Calmbach and PRONTOR II markings and an AGC logo.
The late version, or f:3.5 version, priced FF30,000, has a front-cell focusing Saphir 105/3.5 lens, again by Boyer, said to be specially designed for this camera. The shutter is a Prontor-SV with 1–250, B speeds, having a self-timer and M/X flash synchronization via a PC connector. The shutter release in at about the same place as in the f:4.5 version but its shape has changed. The f:3.5 version is better finished than the earlier one: the chrome plating looks better and less screws are visible. The bottom lock key and film advance key are different too.
1,800 examples were made of the Cyclope f:4.5 and 200 of the f:3.5.
A third version has been observed, having a front-cell focusing Topaz 105/4.5 lens by Boyer. The shutter is made by Gitzo: it is engraved GITZO-PARIS on the rim . It gives 200–25, B speeds and is synchronized via a PC connector. The camera seems to be based on the f:3.5 version. It is not known for sure if it is original, maybe the owner of the example observed has the answer.
A fourth version with an Atos shutter has been mentioned.
- Advertisement by the distributor GMG in Mécanique Populaire Photo, 1952.
- Cyclope advertisement by the distributor Picard formerly published at Photoptic.
- Alsaphot advertisement in Mécanique Populaire Photo, 1952. See also the Cyclope advertisement by the distributor Picard in the Alsaphot page at Photoptic.
- In this wallpaper picture.
- Cyclope history in the Fex-Indo website (web archive dated Oct 12, 2004). Vial says 1951. An Alsaphot advertisement formerly pictured in the Alsaphot page at Photoptic (archived) mentions April 1950 as a future release date.
- Price: advertisement by the distributor GMG in Mécanique Populaire Photo, 1952.
- Price: Cyclope history in the Fex-Indo website (web archive dated Oct 12, 2004).
- According to the Cyclope history in the Fex-Indo website (web archive dated Oct 12, 2004).
- Vial, p. 88, citing Dodin himself.
- In this and this wallpaper picture.
- Cyclope history in the Fex-Indo website (web archive dated Oct 12, 2004).
- Vial, Bernard. Histoire des appareils français. Période 1940–1960. Paris: Maeght Éditeur, 1980, re-impressed in 1991. ISBN 2-86941-156-1. P. 88.
- Mécanique Populaire Photo, a special issue of Mécanique Populaire, supplement to issue n°70. Paris: Les Éditions M.P., 1952. Contains an Alsaflex advertisement and an advertisement by the distributor GMG, listing the Cyclope.
- Alsaphot Cyclope on Oddity Cameras by Sociedad Ibero-Americana de la Historia de la Fotografia Museo Fotográfico y Archivo Historico "Adolfo Alexander"
- Cyclope 3.5 photos on collectiblend.com (they also mention a Luxus model)
- Sales at past auctions by Westlicht Photographica Auction (now Leitz Photographica Auction):
- Cyclope w/Topaz at Sylvain Halgand's www.collection-appareils.fr
- Cyclope f:4.5 in the collection of the Musée Français de la Photographie in Bièvres
- Cyclope f:4.5 at ClicClac (Jacques Charrat's collection)
- Cyclope history at the Fex-Indo website, currently offline (the links point to the web archive version dated Oct 12, 2004)
- Cyclope f:3.5, Cyclope f:4.5, both together, Cyclope w/Topaz, lens of the Cyclope w/Topaz, Alsaphot logo, plate engraved Dodin: big pictures among other Camera Collection Wallpapers
- Alsaphot page at Gérard Langlois' site, with a link to a picture of the Cyclope f:4.5