Clarus Model MS-35
image by Rick Soloway (Image rights)
The Clarus Model MS-35 is an American rangefinder camera for 35mm film. It was made from 1946-1952 by the Clarus Camera Manufacturing Company of Minneapolis. Designed by Paul Mann, it was the only camera model of that company. It was a sophisticated camera with a coupled rangefinder, a focal plane shutter with speeds 1/25-1/1000 +B, and the Clarus screw mount for interchangeable lenses. Standard lenses are a Wollensak Anastigmat 2 inch(50mm) f/2.8 or a Wollensak Velostigmat 2 inch f/2.8. Other available lenses were Elgeet 4 inch, Wollensak 101mm f/3.5, Wollensak 35mm f/3.5 and Wollensak Raptar 2 inch f/2.0. The viewfinder and rangefinder have separate eyepieces in the camera back.
The model illustrated has a two-piece cast accessory shoe (as on Scott's Photographia page); later examples have a shoe made from a single piece of sheet metal.
The camera appears to have been rushed into production to meet the tremendous post-war demand for cameras. The initial 20,000 cameras produced between 1946 and 1948 suffered from such egregious design and manufacturing problems that, despite having fixed these problems by 1949, the widespread reputation of the cameras as a dismal failure doomed both the MS-35 and the company that produced it.
As Mather Broms, Clarus' last general manager, assessed the company ... Clarus represented "a magnificent opportunity for great success slipping through the fingers of a group of grossly inexperienced, poorly financed people, saddled with a camera whose basic design was a complete failure - in the beginning."
Apparently after the failure of the Clarus Camera Manufacturing Company, a number of Clarus 35s were produced and marketed under the Wescon brand name. Some Wescons are nearly identical to late model Clarus 35s, but others utilize the same body but with a between-the-lens leaf shutter.
- Glass, Brass, & Chrome - The American 35mm Miniature Camera; Kalton C. Lahue and Joseph A. Bailey, University of Oklahoma Press, 1972. ISBN 0-8061-3434-8.
- Clarus Model MS-35 at Scott's Photographica
- Pages at Rick Oleson's website:
- Clarus instruction manual at www.orphancameras.com
- Clarus MS-35 at Sylvain Halgand's www.collection-appareils.fr (in French)
- Clarus MS-35, several illustrations including one with Elgeet lens, at Novacon