QRS Kamra

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The QRS Kamra (later sold as the De Vry Still Camera Model K-1) is an early 35mm camera. It was first made in 1928 by the QRS Company of Chicago, makers of player pianos and rolls for them.[1] QRS merged with De Vry in 1929, becoming the QRS-De Vry Corporation. The merged company did not last long, and David Tomei suggests the camera may have been discontinued quickly anyway, since De Vry concentrated on cine equipment.[1]

The Kamra is in any case a close copy (including the name) of the Ellison Kamra, made only a year or two earlier, though it is a little smaller than the Ellison. In particular the QRS Kamra relies on the same crank-operated shutter, patented by the owners of the Ellison Kamra Company of Los Angeles, whereby the crank on the top of the camera both advances the film (when wound clockwise) and operates the shutter (when wound anti-clockwise). McKeown notes that the crank on both cameras is fragile, and is broken on most surviving examples (as on one of the cameras pictured here).[2]

The rectangular body is made of a brown Bakelite-like resin plastic, with a cotton filler, giving an attractive mottled finish. All the controls are on one side (the top, if landscape-format pictures are to be taken). The QRS/De Vry camera has several improvements over the Ellison: it has 'T' as well as 'I' shutter settings, and it has a frame counter. The camera was fitted as standard with a fixed-focus 40mm f/7.7 Graf Anastigmat with no aperture adjustment (similar to the Ellison, which has a fixed-focus f/5 lens without aperture adjustment), but it was also offered at extra cost with a focusing f/3.5 Graf lens, with an iris diaphragm.[3] The camera has a brilliant finder moulded into the body (the Ellison camera has one mounted on a folding lens-door)

The flat back plate is removable for film loading. Film is passed from one cassette to another, a cassette holding about five feet of film for forty 24x32mm exposures.[3]


  1. 1.0 1.1 QRS Kamra, page formerly at the Elisabetta & L. David Tomei collection (archive copy with no pictures, dated 27 February 2009, at Internet Archive.
  2. McKeown, James M. and Joan C. McKeown's Price Guide to Antique and Classic Cameras, 12th Edition, 2005-2006. USA, Centennial Photo Service, 2004. ISBN 0-931838-40-1 (hardcover). ISBN 0-931838-41-X (softcover). p805.
  3. 3.0 3.1 DeVry Still Camera K-1 instruction manual at Mike Butkus' Orphan Cameras.