Pilot Super

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The Pilot Super is a medium format SLR camera made by KW in Dresden, Germany, from c.1939-1941[1], during the period that the company was owned by Charles Noble. It takes twelve 6×6cm exposures on 120 film, and can be converted to take sixteen 4.5×6 frames with an extra mask. It is a later version of the Pilot 6, using a similar chassis. Some early Pilot Supers have Pilot 6 nameplates.[2]

The body is roughly cubic, with a bulge on the top rear edge accommodating the film take-up spool. There is a folding viewfinder hood on top, with a built-in sports finder and a loupe. The film advance knob, shutter speed control and shutter-release are all on the right-hand side. Some examples are fitted with an extinction light meter on the viewing hood; there is then a table by which to interpret the meter reading, together with the depth-of-field table.

The shutter is a guillotine mechanism, very similar to that on the Exa. It has four speeds, 1/20-1/200 + B. It is manually cocked by winding the speed control knob. The camera has a basic double-exposure prevention interlock, and a button to override it (above the shutter speed control). It has a socket for a cable release. There is no delayed action.

The lens is interchangeable, with a 31 or 32 mm thread[3]. Available standard lenses included:

  • Enna Ennatar 1:4.5 or 1:3.5, F=7.5 cm
  • KW Anastigmat 1:2.9, 1:3.5 or 1:4.5, F=7.5 cm
  • Laack Pololyt 1:3.5 F=8 cm
  • Ludwig Pilotar 1:2.9 F=7.5 cm


All of these are simple, uncoated triplet lenses. It is possible, given the years of production, that Wartime supply restrictions prevented a higher-specification lens being offered. Focusing is by screwing the front element in and out (and must be so, since the camera's body is rigid). In both of the examples pictured, the focus scale is in feet: as shown in the advertisement, the Pilot Super was exported to the USA. Germany and the UK were at war throughout the period that the camera was made.

The advertisement below right mentions a long-focus lens. This is rare; the only example known is a 10.5 cm f/4.5 KW Anastigmat.[4]

The focusing screen does not have a fresnel screen, and is rather dark, especially since the aperture control is manual (so final framing of hand-held photographs must be done after stopping down). The loupe is mounted in a plate which completely covers the focus hood when erected, which helps somewhat.



Notes

  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). p585.
  2. Listing for the Pilot 6 at the Collectiblend price guide site.
  3. Measured as 31 mm on the example available, with a f/3.5 Ennatar. However, other owners report a 32 mm thread: e.g. here; KW Pilot Super meets the youth of the 21st century at Photo.net, and it is worth noting that the thread mount for the Ennatar is in a black ring screwed onto the body, and clearly visible behind the lens; this is absent in the example with a KW Anastigmat, pictured here, so it is quite possible that the mounts are different.
  4. Post on photo.net showing the only example known of the long-focus lens.

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