Bermpohl Naturfarbenkamera

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The Naturfarbenkamera (natural color camera) is a colour separation plate camera made by Bermpohl & Co., Berlin from about 1930.[1] It is wooden-bodied, with bellows focusing. It was made in three sizes, for 9x12 cm, 13x18 cm or 18x24 cm plates. The body of the camera is a rather curious shape. Inside, a system of beam-splitting mirrors divides the incoming light into three, projecting the same image onto three plates, arranged so as to have the same focus, enabling them to be exposed simultaneously. A red, green or blue filter is placed in front of each plate, so each captures, as a monochrome silver negative image, a single color component for a three-color printing process. Because contemporary monochrome plates were more sensitive to blue than to red, the strength of the color filters was biased to compensate. Different sets of filters could be used for different lighting.[1][2] Color separation photography was in use from early to the middle of the twentieth century, being replaced by color film photography later.

Several other makers made similar cameras. Bermpohl had previously made cameras for three-color photography by successive (i.e. not simultaneous) exposure of the three plates. These cameras are simpler in construction; there is no need for the internal mirrors, or more than one place to attach a dark-slide.


  • Type: Color separation camera
  • Manufacturer: Bermpohl & Co., Berlin
  • Medium: 9x12 cm, 13x18 cm or 18x24 cm plates
  • Lens: f/4 Meyer Doppel Plasmat; about 22 cm for the 9x12 cm camera, and 30 cm for the 13x18 cm one.[3]
  • Lens aperture range: f/4 to f/32
  • Shutter: Dial-set Compound shutter with speeds 1 - 1/50 second, plus 'B' and 'T'.


  1. 1.0 1.1 13x18 cm Naturfarbenkamera with 30 cm f/4 Doppel Plasmat, at Early Photography.
  2. 9x12 cm Naturfarbenkamera with 21.5 cm f/4 Doppel Plasmat and Compound shutter, reflex viewfinder, and daylight and flash color filters, sold at the thirteenth Westlicht Photographica Auction, in June 2008.
  3. These lenses are usually seen: however an example with a Steinheil Unofocal and Compur shutter was sold at the seventh Westlicht auction, in May 2005; it had probably been modified.


  • US Patent 1951896 describing the Naturfarbenkamera, filed 1930 and granted 1934 to Wilhelm Bermpohl, at Espacenet, the patent search facility of the European Patent Office.