View Full Version : Kawee? Help identifying a camera

Dale Short
9-Apr-2005, 12:46
I recently aquired a old vintage camera and I am unable to identify a model or make. Here is an image
It has a plate that reads Kawee (Karee, Kanre?) -camera. It has "compur" on the lense. On the bottom plate there is a KW in a diamond. Thanks for any help in identifying the camera.

David G. Gagnon
9-Apr-2005, 13:37

Your camera, according to McKeown's camera guide is actually a "Patent Etui" model made by the K.W. company (Kamera Werkstatten Guthe & Thorsch, Dresden, Germany). It doesn't mention when these cameras were made, but I'd guess in the late thirties. Apparently Kawee Camera was the marketing name for the Patent Etui. It was made in two formats: 6.5 x 6.9 cm. and 9 x 12 cm.

According to my 193 McKeown's guide, it is valued at between $50 to $90.

To use it, you would need to find some film holders in the correct size, and sheet film in the correct size, as film packs are no longer made for the film pack holder that is on the camera now.

Have fun with it!


Ole Tjugen
9-Apr-2005, 15:45
Yes, it's a Kawee...

From what I can see the lens is a Carl Zeiss Tessar. Those are usually f:4.5. Since the fastest spped of the shutter is 1/250, it must be a #1 shutter (the #0's go to 1/400). That makes it either a 13,5cm or a 15cm lens (135mm or 150mm), in any case the camera is probably made for 9x12cm plates.

So start looking for plate holders and film inserts, and have fun!

Donald Qualls
9-Apr-2005, 15:47
Congratulations on obtaining the smallest, lightest 9x12 cm large format camera ever made -- a complete camera that, folded, is about the same volume as a modern 4x5 film holder and not much heavier.

And now for the bad news...

I have a 9x12 Kawee Camera. The plate holders for them appear to be unobtainable in the United States. They're very similar to a Voigtlander or Fotokor holder, but though they have almost the same width and edge thickness (near enough, at least, that a Voigtlander holder will slide into my camera), the Voigtlander holders are about 1/2 inch too long.

My 3 original KW holders are 3 7/8" (98.5 mm) wide, and the holder exclusive of dark slide is 5 1/2" (140 mm) long; the flange is no more than 1 mm thick, possibly a fraction thinner, and 1.5 to 2 mm wide. Voigtlander 9x12 holders are 0.5 to 1 mm wider, and a fraction of a mm thicker flange, but will slide into at least some Kawee Cameras; however, due to the extra length, the film frame won't match the image mask in the camera, nor will the light seal velvet make contact enough to be sure of a seal. It *might* be possible to trim the flange on a Voigtlander type holder, allowing it to slide past the bottom of the camera and match up the image frame and velvet, but doing so might cause light leaks at the bottom or through the cuts (the metal of the holder is just folded to form the flange).

I've been told that 9x12 plate holders are much more common on German eBay than in the US -- www.ebay.de, as I recall -- but haven't looked there.

You'll also need film sheaths, and it's not at all certain that plate holders you obtain will have them, but those at least are somewhat available. You can also, if you don't mind spending $8 per frame, obtain glass plates made in Russia through Retro Photo in UK, and when Ilford announced their product line resumption after the management buyout, they mentioned they were looking at resuming production of glass plates as well. Those will fit plate holders directly, of course, requiring no film sheath.

Once you have all the stuff, there are only two emulsions available in 9x12 cm in the United States: Fomapan 100, which is pretty nice stuff and quite inexpensive, and Efke PL100, which I've never used but is said to also be nice (if rather soft emulsion and prone to scratching). However, any 4x5 stock can be pretty readily cut to fit your 9x12 film sheaths using a paper trimmer with suitable stops. Many, but not all labs that process 4x5 can also handle 9x12 -- take an exposed sheet and let their lab tech check, if you won't be processing your own (especially for C-41 and E-6).

Dale Short
9-Apr-2005, 18:14
As you can see from the picture, there are paper tabs hanging out of the top. They say "Kodak Verichrome Pan" on them. Is this some kind of addition to solve the above problems?

J. Patric Dahlen
10-Apr-2005, 10:39
The paper indicates that you have film still left in the filmpack holder. Not exactly sure how they were used, but I guess you pull out the paper closest to the camera after each shot.

It's a 6,5 x 9 camera, right? I have three Patent Etuis, and took my first test shots today.

I'm using the ground glass holder from my Voigtlander Bergheil, and Voigtlander film holders. I had to modify the camera a little so these film holders could slide in. Original KW holders have thinner flanges.

Why did I use the ground glass for my Bergheil in these cameras? Because I have adjusted it so the focus is on the same plane as the film. It was alot of work... :-/

Donald Qualls
11-Apr-2005, 05:34
The tabs hanging out are for remaining film in a film pack -- unfortunately, it's long expired, since film packs (at least in Kodak emulsions) were last made around 1980. That film may still be good, though the first frame is very likely to have been fogged. To use, pull the tab with the lowest remaining number until it stops, then tear off the tab. There may also be exposed film in the back of the pack; the packs were designed to be opened (in a darkroom, of course) and exposed frames removed without affecting the unexposed films; it might be worth trying to develop those films to see if there are interesting images on them, as well as exposing the remaining sheets in the pack.

That camera is almost certainly the 9x12 size, though, not the 6.5x9 -- in addition to evidence from the speeds on the shutter etc., the relative size of the rise knob and bright finder to the lens and shutter says it's the bigger one (there was also a very rare 10x15 cm version of this camera, I believe). Yes, it might be possible to modify the camera to use Voigtlander type holders -- I haven't considered this on mine because I would then be unable to use the three original plate holders I have.

I've never seen an example of a Patent Etui in 9x12 with any focal length other than 13.5 cm; unlike other plate cameras, this one is relatively intolerant of other focal lengths because, despite ground glass focusing, the front standard brace requires latching the standard to a fixed location on the focusing rack, a location that is a major PITA to adjust (I know, I have a Skopar for mine, acquired to replace the original Radionar, which has about 2.5 mm shorter focal length and I haven't yet found a way to adjust the infinity focus short of grinding off the back end of the rack and redrilling the mount for the scale and infinity stop). The 6.5x9 version invariably has a 10.5 cm lens, and the 10x15, if you ever find one, will have the 18.0 cm (probably no faster than f/6.3, since I believe the same shutter was used as the 9x12).

J. Patric Dahlen
11-Apr-2005, 11:44
Donald, the shutter speeds are the same as on my 6,5 x 9 Patent Etui cameras, up to 1/250 sec. All the other things have the same relative size as my cameras.

Maybe Dale can tell us the focal length of the Tessar?

I have one with 4,5/105 and another with 4,5/120 Tessar.

My othter Patent Etuis have a Steinheil Doppel-Anastigmat Unofokal 4,5/105 and Meyer Doppel-Anastigmat Helioplan 4,5/105 (will receive that camera this week, I hope)

Dale Short
11-Apr-2005, 15:16
the lens ways "Tessar" 1:45 f=12cm"

Feel free to interpret.

J. Patric Dahlen
12-Apr-2005, 04:32
Hmmm. One of my 6,5 x 9 Patent Etuis has the 4,5/120 Tessar. Don't know if that lens could be used on a 9 x 12.

Ok, to be absolutely sure: If your camera is five Inches tall, it's the 6,5 x 9 version. ;-)

Ole Tjugen
12-Apr-2005, 10:41
A 120mm Tessar won't cover 9x12cm, so I must have been wrong. Your Kawee is most likely a 6.5x9cm model, and the lens will cover with a little movement. I believe the shortest Tessar type lenses used on 9x12cm were 135mm.

Lapalus JF
15-Apr-2005, 15:15
for your Kawee camera, see on eBay "ANTIKE TOP ERHALTENE PLATTENKAMERA COMPUR UM 1925
Numéro de l'objet : 6525646129 " "KW" for Kamera Werkstatten Dresden the ancestor of Praktica
I think it's very similar : it would be a 6,5*9 cm plate and the lens a 1:4,5 F=10,5 cm *
Search also on Google "kamera werkstatten", you will have perhaps a complete answer

Paul Butler
18-Oct-2007, 04:13
Here is a blast from the past, seeing that it has been 2 1/2 years since the previous post!

FYI I have used Fomapan 100 in my Zeiss Ikon Ideal and it has worked out very well.

Also, I had to scour the internet for a while to get additional film holders but I have 5 working ones (the Ideal uses custom film holders like the Kawee) and this really makes it practical. The camera can be hand held but I generally use a tripod.

My Ideal has a f 4.5 Tessar 15 cm. lens in compur, I got a CLA from S.K. Grimes (in the States) and it has reliably produced excellent results ever since.

Paul Butler

Michael Roberts
18-Oct-2007, 05:42
Got any pics of the camera?