Hermagis made two completely different cameras named l'Eclaireur ('Scout'). The first, in about 1897, is a detective camera for 9x12 cm exposures on long roll film. Later, perhaps about 1910, the company offered two folding cameras which appear to be rebadged Ernemann cameras.
L'Eclaireur detective camera
The original Eclaireur, designed by Léopold Mathet and Hermagis, is rather like the Vélocigraphe; it is box-shaped, and made from mahogany. The camera was offered in varnished finish, with a close-fitting black leather case, or with a morocco-leather covering, with a leather carrying bag. As with the Vélocigraphe, almost all operations may be carried out without removing the camera from the case. Whereas the Vélocigraphe is a falling-plate camera, the Eclaireur is for roll film: film is loaded as long rolls for 24, 48 or 100 exposures to a roll. Some film was available which could be loaded in daylight. The film is advanced by turning a key on the side, but there is no red window. When the key is turned, a hinged frame mounted in the film gate swivels down, pulling a fresh length of film from the supply spool. The exposed frame is pressed against a row of spikes, which make perforations across the film at the bottom of each exposure. The hinged frame (compared by Hermagis to the reciprocating platen of a printing press) then returns to its vertical position, while the user winds the slack film onto the uptake spool with a separate crank. Operating the film advance also arms the shutter for the next exposure, and advances a frame counter.
The shutter is behind the lens, and has six instantaneous speeds, controlled by variable spring tension, plus 'B'. It is self-capping. The lens is either a wide-angle Aplanat, or an Aplanastigmat at greater cost.
L'Eclaireur models A and B (folding)
Collection Appareils shows pages from an Hermagis catalogue from shortly before the First World War, including two folding cameras, l'Eclaireur Model A and B. The cameras seem very similar to Ernemann Bob models, but are fitted with Hermagis lenses.
Model A seems to be a rebadged Bob 0, for 8x10½ cm exposures on roll film, or 9x12 plates. It is vertically oriented. The body is made from wood and aluminium, with leather covering and bellows, and nickel-plated fittings. The lens is either a 125 mm f/8 Rapid Rectilinear or an f/6.8 Néo-Stigmat. The catalogue also offers the camera without lens or shutter. The shutter has instantaneous speeds 1/25 - 1/100 second, plus 'B' and 'T'. The lens is held in a U-shaped standard, which simply slides in rails to focus, down to 2 metres. It has a brilliant finder, which can be rotated for horizontal and vertical use; a ground-glass screen can also be used with plates.
Model B seems to be the Bob I; it was offered in three sizes: 6x9 cm rollfilm (or 6.5x9 cm plates), 8x10½ (or 9x12 plates), and 8x14 (or 9x14 plates). It is similar to the Model A, but superior in several respects:
- The 6x9 camera has radial lever focusing, and the two larger sizes have rack-and-pinion focusing.
- In addition to the Rapid Rectilinear or Néo-Stigmat as above, the camera is offered with the f/6.8 Aplanastigmat.
- Double-extension bed and bellows are offered, at extra cost, for the two larger sizes.
Both models have front rise and sideways shift. Plate-holders can be fitted simply by removing a flap in the back of the camera. The point of focus is different for plates and roll film. A filter for use with Autochrome plates, and a tele-photo attachment are among the accessories offered.