View Full Version : Three color cameras (or not)

Emil Schildt
1-Mar-2013, 15:17
I'm confused....

I have noticed two cameras on the bay (same seller) who look almost identical, but with different descriptions...

One is just called Studio Plate-Camera with 4,5x6cm Slider

the other is called The Westminster Photographic Exchange Ltd. - Wooden 3-Colour 3-Farben Camera...

..and to add to my confusion, I have a similar one - when I bought it it was called a "finger print camera"....

I guess one could make thee colour images with this, albeit with huge limitations on motive...

So what is it?

Educate me please...

Images to follow:

first two are the "Studio Plate-Camera"

second two are the "three colour camera"

Last ones are my "fingerprint camera"...

Emil Schildt
1-Mar-2013, 15:19
two of mine and the inside of the cassette...

1-Mar-2013, 16:05
I don't think these cameras were designed for three exposure trichromy. Is there a slot for a color filter frame directly in front of the back? If not, they were likely used for taking different exposures on a single plate. The plate size would come from a standard plate size cut into strips.

1-Mar-2013, 21:00
All of the color separation cameras I have ever seen have used a system of three semi- transparent mirrors that allowed three filtered film holders to be exposed simultaneously off of a single exposure. I would think that any sliding back system that required three separate exposures would make registration of the negatives very difficult ( due to camera/ subject movement).

Leonard Robertson
1-Mar-2013, 21:11
I believe what BarryS says about the three colored filters inside the camera is true for the "one shot" tri-color cameras, as the three plates were exposed simultaneously. However, with the tri-color cameras where the plates were exposed one at a time, the three color filters could be used in front of the lens in a slider filter holder. I have a 1940 copyright book "Photographing in Color" by Paul Outerbridge which shows a view camera with a horizontal slider back for three separate plate holders and a focusing screen, with a three filter slider in front of the lens. In the text, Outerbridge mentions different exposure times for the plates due to different filter factors for each. Anyway, I'm reasonably sure the two cameras on eBay and the one you own are variations of the tri-color idea, although none have the front filter holder. I suspect the "fingerprint camera" description was the seller's wild guess. The tri-color camera was probably pretty much a studio still life camera, although Outerbridge shows some sort of cable from the plate slider to the front shutter/filter holder and mentions the three plates can be exposed in succession relatively quickly.

It looks like a tempting project to find some outdated plates on eBay for your plate holder and give it a try. richard314159 on Flickr has recently done this, although I think with regular sheet film. Shooting three color separation negs obviously seems kind of silly when color sheet film is still available, but it may not be available forever. I also seem to recall reading of someone doing tri-color printing similar to dye transfer printing, and I believe separation negs are needed for this process.


Steven Tribe
2-Mar-2013, 14:00
albeit with huge limitations on motive...

Emil - think 1880's!

I am sure that any active and enlightened Museum Director/Art Historian at this period would have had access to the simple three image camera taking 3 images every few seconds. After decades of wet plate and black and white, they must have embraced this technology which could show art in full colour - without having to bring the original artwork.

So the use was for reproduction - not colour photography as we know it.

Now, autochrome is another kettle of fish (just checking your English idioms)!