Ensign Reflex

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The Ensign Reflex, Ensign Deluxe Reflex, Ensign Popular Reflex and Ensign Special Reflex are a range of large wooden-bodied box-form SLR cameras built in England by Houghton from about 1908 into the 1930s. They are very similar to the Soho Reflex range made by Kershaw. The cameras have a self-capping focal-plane shutter[1] (typically with speeds from about 1/10 to 1/1000 second, plus 'T'; the range of speeds varies with the plate size), and no front shutter. They are designed to be used at a high waist-level (with the face applied to the top of the folding leather focusing hood to view the ground-glass screen at the top of the body), but can also be used as a view camera, with a second ground-glass screen fitted to the back.

The lens is screw-mounted in a flange set in a wooden panel on the front of the bellows (the quarter-plate camera has a two-inch mount: other sizes may differ). This panel can slide, allowing a little front rise (as in the picture below). Focusing is by rack-and-pinion extension of the bellows (the rail on each side of the bellows has teeth on the bottom edge, which mesh with toothed wheels connected directly to the focusing knob on the left side). Some cameras (for example the tropical camera shown here) have focus distances engraved on the rails. The camera body is quite deep (front to back) to accommodate the mirror mechanism, so that a normal lens must be in a slightly sunken mount, almost flush with the lens board. Retrofocus lenses did not exist when these cameras were made, so lenses wider than normal could not be used. The bellows can be extended to roughly the same depth again, allowing moderate long-focus lenses (non-telephoto designs) to be used, but not allowing them to be focused very close. Telephoto lens designs (i.e. lenses with a back-focus less than their focal length) such as the Telecentric and Teleros increased the usefulness of such cameras. There is a hinged metal cover over the lens, which when raised acts as a shade.

The cameras were made in a variety of plate sizes. Tropical versions were made of some models. The cameras have a ¼-inch tripod bush in the base.





Notes

  1. Notes on the Ensign focal-plane shutter at Early Photography.


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