Devin Tricolor Camera

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The Devin Tricolor Camera is a one-shot colour separation camera; that is, it exposes three monochrome plates in a single exposure, each mounted behind a colour filter, so that a true colour print may subsequently made by addition of the three monochrome negatives.

The Devin camera was made by the Devin Colorgraph Company, based for at least some time in New York.[1] An auction listing at Christie's identifies the company as the Devin-McGraw Colorgraph Company, of Burbank, CA: this may be an error.[2] Gerald B. Devin himself gave his address as San Francisco, CA in a patent of 1934 for a simpler three-colour camera.[3]

The camera body is metal. Like most one-shot colour-separation cameras, it is a curious shape, determined by the need to arrange three plate-holders and two partial mirrors behind the lens. The 1938 brochure states that the camera uses very thin pellicle mirrors, minimising the refractive effect of the mirrors on the image-forming light passing through them.[1] It uses 6.5x9 cm plates. The lens and shutter are mounted on a short bellows at the front. There is a telescopic finder mounted on the top of the camera. This is for rapid focusing rather than view-finding: the front lens of the finder is fastened to the lens/shutter unit, and racks forward and back as the camera is focused. At the rear, the finder has a small ground-glass screen, so that a small partial image is viewed through the eyepiece for focusing. It is clear from the brochure that the makers intended the camera to be usable hand-held.[1] A Newton-type viewfinder is mounted on the side of the focusing finder for quick framing. A full-size ground-glass screen can also be used.

The lens is either a 140 mm (5½-inch) f/4.5 Goerz Dogmar[4] or a 135 mm f/4.5 Meyer Aristostigmat.[5] The brochure makes it clear that the design of the focusing finder precludes the use of longer- or shorter-focus lenses.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Brochure for the Devin Camera, including prices for 1938, at Mike Butkus' Orphan Cameras site. The brochure names the company as Devin Colorgraph Company and gives its address as 305 E 43rd Street, New York.
  2. Devin camera with 5½-inch f/4.5 Goerz Dogmar and Acme shutter, attributed by the auctioneer to the Devin-McGraw Colorgraph Company, sold at Sale 7471 - Cameras and Photographic Equipment, on 17 January 1997, by Christie's; no picture. There was certainly a McGraw Colorgraph Company of Burbank; it appears to have been concerned with photographic screen-printing, and active in the 1970s; see for example Belgian Patent 863939, Procédé et appareil pour sensibiliser une bande continue d'une pellicule serigraphe (process and device for sensitising a continuous strip of screen-printing film), granted to the McGraw Colorgraph Company of Burbank CA, August 1978; at Espacenet, the patent search facility of the European Patent Office.
  3. Patent 1970598, Camera with moving reflectors, filed March 1932 and granted August 1934 to Gerald B. Devin and Irving V. Moulin, both of San Francisco, CA; at Espacenet. The patent describes a bellows camera, with an angled mirror fixed behind the lens, which directs the image-forming light upward. Another angled mirror directs the light toward any of three plates, arranged one above the other, and there is a mechanism to move the mirrors quickly between exposures, so that the three colour-filtered exposures can be made in quick succession, minimising subject movement between the exposures. The camera is an advance on existing three-exposure colour-separation cameras such as Dr Miethe's Dreifarben-Kamera.
  4. Devin camera with 5½-inch f/4.5 Goerz Dogmar and dial-set shutter (perhaps the Acme), sold at the seventh Westlicht Photographica Auction, in May 2005.
  5. Devin camera with 5¼-inch f/4.5 Aristostigmat and Compur shutter, at Scott's Photographica Collection.