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Frena cameras are a range of magazine cameras for sheet film, made by Beck from about 1893.[1] They use special sheet film: the edge of the film is notched, and this is essential to the working of the sheet-changing mechanism.

In the original model, as in a falling-plate camera, each sheet is dropped to the bottom of the camera after exposure, by turning a handle on the side forward and back.[2][3] Later models have a different changing mechanism, still relying on notched sheet film, and with exposed sheets being stored at the back of the camera.[2]

The lens on most Frenas is an f/8 Beck Rapid Rectilinear. Some cheaper models have an f/11 achromat, and an f/6.3 Beck-Steinheil Orthostigmat lens was offered for some models.[4] The lens has adjustable aperture on the better models, achieved by an aperture disc. Focusing is achieved by sets of add-on lenses, each offering a focus range.

The Frenas have sector shutters, like those on many box cameras, but with adjustable sector-width, giving a range of exposure times (from 1/5 to 1/40 second, in the example of the Presentation Frena No. 2).[5]

A by-product of the film-changing mechanism is that the camera can be tilted slightly up, and the film then returned to the vertical using the changing handle (which has a built-in level); this gives the camera rear tilt.[2]


  • No. 1 (3¼x3¼ inch lantern-slide size); originally simply the Frena, and named the No. 1 after other sizes were added.[2]
  • No. 2 (3¼x4¼ inch: quarter plate)
  • No. 22 (as the No. 2, but with an f/11 achromat instead of a Rapid Rectilinear.
  • No. 3 (4x5 inch)
  • No. 0 (2⅝x3½ inch: roughly sixth-plate[3])
  • No. 00 (as the No. 0, but with an f/11 achromat)
  • No. 10, FOP Frena ('Film Or Plate'[4])
  • Frena Max (quarter plate[6])

De-luxe Presentation models were made in some of the sizes.[5] These are covered with light-brown leather, instead of the normal black, and have lacquered-brass fittings.


  1. McKeown, James M. and Joan C. McKeown's Price Guide to Antique and Classic Cameras, 12th Edition, 2005-2006. USA, Centennial Photo Service, 2004. ISBN 0-931838-40-1 (hardcover). ISBN 0-931838-41-X (softcover). p115.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Frena at Early Photography
  3. 3.0 3.1 Frena cameras at Red Bellows: notes on the camera features and use, and some contemporary advertising.
  4. 4.0 4.1 FOP Frena at Early Photography.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Presentation Frena No. 2 at Early Photography. Includes notes on other sizes and variations in the cameras.
  6. Frena Max, also at Historic Camera.


  • Examples sold at auction:
  • Holland, Clive (1899): Holiday work with a 'Frena'. The Artist: An Illustrated Monthly Record of Arts, Crafts and Industries (American Edition), Volume 26, pp 18-22; a discussion of holiday photography with hand-cameras, praising the Frena as a good amateur camera. Available to view or download in several formats, at the Internet Archive.