Ensign Selfix 220
|image by OZBOX (Image rights)|
The Selfix 220 was the name given to a family of Selfix cameras made by Ensign in England since c.1939, maybe a tad earlier at Paul Cowan's blog. The prices, ranging from £3/15/0 to £10/17/6d depending on the lens and shutter, show that even a basic model was a luxury item, until early 1950s when this model was dropped in favor of the Ensign Selfix 12-20 AutoRange.
Selfix 220 are dual format bellows cameras, capable of providing either twelve 6x6 or sixteen 6x4.5 pictures per roll of 120, by means of pivoting masks - a clever system that ensures the mask is always present on the camera and not lost. A sliding mask is also present on the finder for aiding with composition and focus.
The Selfix 220 was a pretty advanced design for its era, with a chromed top cover that was so ubiquituous a decade later. The camera also features an automatic frame counter, that can be reversed to fit the format of the negative and double exposure prevention mechanism. Focusing is achieved by means of an sliding lever at the front bed, inside the door under lens and shutter unit. The front door is opened with a button located on the bottom cover.
The frame counter is probably the nicest feature, but also a bit annoying for beginners: when film is loaded, the first exposure is positioned using the red window, and from then on this window can remain closed and rely on the rotating frame counter for film advance. Despite being a dual-format camera, it has a single red window, which is located at an odd position: one must use the frame counter to advance film and position the frame.
Lenses that can be found on these cameras are most usually an Ensar 75mm f/4.5 made by Ensign itself, sometimes with a Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar 75mm f/2.8. A 1939 catalogue  shows a Lukos lens as an option for the AutoRange version, and a regular 220 with Ensign Multar lens has been observed at an online auction. It is possible that Houghtons also used Compur shutters for some time due to lack of materials that would have allowed Ensign to mount their own shutters, however production was halted after about two years, in 1940.
Ensign Selfix 220
The Ensign Selfix 220 is the viewfinder variation, a camera for 6x6 / 6x4.5 negatives on 120 film.
The top of the camera has an eye-level direct viewfinder slightly offset to the right, and the shutter release is located on the shutter body.
Ensign Selfix 220 AutoRange
The Selfix 220 AutoRange is the rangefinder variation, also a dual format camera.
The camera now has gained a chromed top housing with round corners, a feature to be seen on cameras by almost every maker a decade after. This top cover houses a combined and coupled rangefinder, and there is a sliding mask in front of the square front window to accomodate the smaller frame size. The top of the body also now hosts a shutter release button - without thread for remote cable.