image by Nigel R99 (Image rights)
The Wrayflex is a 35mm SLR camera made by Wray from about 1950, the only British-made 35mm SLR. There are three different models: the first two have a low profile appearance and use a system of mirrors rather than a pentaprism to provide the reflex viewing image. The first camera, the Wrayflex I, makes images in a 24x32mm format; the second, the Wrayflex Ia, gives the standard 24x36mm format. Other than this it is very similar to the first model; McKeown states that the frame-counter (which counts beyond 40 on the Wrayflex I because of the small format) is the easiest way to tell the two apart.
Sadly the mirror viewfinders were very dim compared to the prism used on rival cameras, and produced a laterally reversed image. The third model, the Wrayflex II from about 1959, has a prism, giving it a taller profile. It has the standard 24x36mm image format.
The cameras use normal 35mm film cassettes and have a film-advance key in the base. The 24x32 mm format was a problem for slide films (the images would not fit neatly in standard mounts, and might be incorrectly cut by the processors).
All three cameras use the same series of lenses:
- 35/3.5 Lustrar
- 50/2.8 Unilux
- 50/2 Unilite
- 90/4 Lustrar
- 135/4 Lustrar
|Wrayflex Ia - identified by the frame counter |
(the accessory shoe is not original).
image by P. Rippingale (Image rights)
The Unilite lens design was covered by patents; later there would be a dispute with Corfield when the latter company introduced their 45mm Lumax f/1.9 lens for the Periflex camera range. Corfield had unwittingly infringed the Wray patent and were obliged to acknowledge this fact.
All three models have a focal-plane shutter, with speeds ½ - 1/1000 second, plus 'B'. There are separate flash synchronisation sockets on the front of the camera for electronic flash ('E') and bulbs ('B'). The Wrayflex II also has a cold shoe on top of the prism; (the cited example of the Wrayflex I at Westlicht also has a cold shoe).
- 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). p1016-7.
- Wrayflex I serial no. 1579, with a Unilite 50mm f/2 lens, sold at the sixth Westlicht Photographica Auction, on 6 November 2004.
- Wrayflex 1a serial no. 2580 with Unilite 50 mm f/2, also sold at the November 2004 Westlicht auction.
- Wrayflex Ia serial no. 2691, with 35 mm f/3.5 Lustrar, sold at the 21st Westlicht auction, on 23 May 2012.
- Wrayflex II serial no. 4246, with Unilite 50mm f/2 lens, also sold at the May 2012 Westlicht auction.
|Wrayflex and Wray lenses (1954)|
image by Nesster (Image rights)
- Wrayflex user manual at Marriott's World
- User's manual (PDF) at Mike Butkus' Orphan Cameras.
- US Patent 2608922, Reflex camera with curtain shutter, describes the Wrayflex.
- Dummy Wrayflex I or Ia; lot 8 of the auction The British Camera 1840-1960 The Jim Barron Collection at Christie's, in December 2002 in London.
- Wally Morley, 'The Wrayflex' in Photographica World, no. 64, March 1993, pp. 35-37.
- John Wade, 'The Wrayflex Story' Wordpower Publishing; see www.wrayflex.co.uk.