Ensign Autospeed

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The Ensign Autospeed[1] is a folding camera for 2¼x3¼-inch pictures on 120 rollfilm, unusual in having a focal plane shutter. It was made from the early 1930s by Houghton-Butcher.[2] It is metal-bodied, with leather covering. It is not self-erecting. It was offered (in the 1935 catalogue cited)[2] with a 4-inch f/4.5 Aldis Uno Anastigmat, an f/3.4 Aldis-Butcher, an f/3.5 Dallmeyer Dalmac, f/4.5 Ross Xpres or 105mm f/4.5 Tessar. An example, perhaps later, has been seen with a 100mm f/4.5 Ensar anastigmat.[3] The lens standard has rise and cross lens movements, and focusing is by a radial lever on the right of the bed, with a scale on the left, down to 4 feet. There is also a brilliant finder, and a wire-frame finder. One model of the camera has a coupled rangefinder mounted on the left side of the body.[4]

The shutter has speeds from 1/15 - 1/500 second, plus 'T'. There is a shutter release button on the body, and the camera was supplied with a short cable release, which attaches directly to the shutter.

See the No. 1A Speed Kodak (or the 4A) of 1909 for other examples of a folding camera with FP shutter. The 1A Kodak is a rather similar camera to the Autospeed, but for slightly bigger 116 film, and horizontal-folding. Also, the Kodak's Graflex shutter gives a wider range of speeds (1 -1/1000 second) by having both tension and slit-width settings, where the Autospeed has only one speed control.

Ensign's catalogue boasts of 'automatic' film-winding; this refers to a combined knob which both winds the film (apparently not requiring the red window except when loading a new film) and the focal-plane shutter. The same knob incorporates the shutter-speed control.

As in several of Ensign's cameras of the time, there is a 'film registration device'; a mechanism which increases the force of the pressure plate. In this camera, this is activated as the shutter release is pressed (whereas in many cameras, this mechanism is on, except when relaxed by opening the red-window cover).


  1. The name appears as Autospeed in the 1935 catalogue cited below, but as Auto-Speed on all examples seen.
  2. 2.0 2.1 The camera is listed in a 1935 Ensign Ltd catalogue (dated to 1935 by Pacific Rim), but not in a 1930 Ensign catalogue at the same site.
  3. Examples seen for sale.
  4. Rangefinder Autospeed sold by Christie's in December 2002.