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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.[1] 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,[1] 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.[1] 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.[2] 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.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Hermagis, J.F. (given as J. Fleury-Hermagis) and Rossignol, N., 1897 l'Eclaireur, in l'Amateur d'Excursions Photographiques No. 3, pp410-412.
  2. Hermagis catalogue page 58 and page 59, showing the Eclaireur cameras, reproduced at Sylvain Halgand's Collection Appareils.