Camerz

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Camerz is the brand used for a series of long-roll cameras sold by Photo Control Corporation, founded 1959 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.

These massive, electrically-driven cameras, especially the later SLR models, were among the most popular "school picture day" cameras in the US before the transition to digital.


The first Camerz models used TLR viewing, most often with viewing and taking lenses side by side. Designed for unperforated long rolls, many Camerz models oriented a 70mm film magazine vertically for an image area approximately 6x9 cm in portrait orientation[1]. Later the Z series switched to running the film horizontally to yield images approximately 6x4.5 cm in portrait orientation, dubbed "split 70." The addition of a zoom lens on the later models such as the ZII was greatly appreciated by its operators, as this was much more practical than dragging a heavy tripod-mounted camera fore and aft to achieve the desired framing.

The typical Camerz ZII setup includes a removable 100-foot magazine for 70mm film. This provides sufficient film for up to 700 exposures before reloading the film back. A card recording information about the shoot (school, class grade, student name, etc.) could be inserted into the top slot and this would be optically photographed onto each negative. A complete ZII kit packed in its hard case weighs approximately 31 lbs (14 kg)[2].

The 75-150mm f/4.5 Computar-Camerz lens strongly resembles Mamiya's early M645-system 75-150 zoom, but with a modified mount and aperture ring, and an additional lever clamped to the zoom ring so it will be accessible when recessed into the Camerz body.

Despite a 2003 announcement that Kodak would provide 14-megapixel sensors & support electronics for a Camerz digital back[3], and a 2004 acquisition of videoconferencing company Vaddio[4], Photo Control and the Camerz line struggled during the rapid growth of digital technology. In 2004 Photo Control announced a merger with Nature Vision, a Brainerd, Minnesota manufacturer of underwater cameras[5], but the resulting firm also struggled and was sold in 2009[6].

Norman Lighting, established in 1963, was acquired by Photo Control in 1973. In 2006, Nature Vision sold Norman Lighting and the other Photo Control trademarks to the Illinois company Promark[7], and the former Photo Control web URL now redirects to the Norman website. This company no longer sells cameras, but the Camerz name was retained on an accessory attachment designed for DSLR portrait shooters, which provides an external video monitor[8].

Models

  • Camerz Model 10 (TLR—Bremson Photo Industries design)
  • Camerz Model 12 (TLR w/integral film magazine)
  • Camerz Model 20 (TLR)
  • Camerz CNII
  • Camerz Z
  • Camerz ZII
  • Camerz ZIIE
  • Camerz ZIII
  • Camerz 67 LR-Z
  • Camerz Electri-Tronic (TLR)
  • Camerz ZDS-DC Digital Camera

Notes

  1. Magazines for 46mm and 35mm long rolls are also known.
  2. Per the description of eBay auction #171699167893, by retired user Kenward Griffith, who also graciously provided the images here
  3. Kodak 2003 press release announcing cooperation with Camerz, from Kodak corporate PR site
  4. Photo Control 2003 SEC filing, showing nearly a USD $1 million loss; from GetFilings.com.
  5. "Nature Vision merges with Photo Control", Saturday, April 17, 2004 Brainerd Dispatch.
  6. "Nature Vision is now Swordfish Financial" Saturday, September 05, 2009 Brainerd Dispatch.
  7. About Norman; from the Norman corporate website.
  8. Camerz Video Viewing System at Normanlights.com

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