View Full Version : "Premo" Cameras

7-Jun-2008, 19:38
Surfing FleaBay this evening, a typical hobby, and I have to ask - why is practically nobody buying or shooting these sort of cameras? Are they prone to problems? Do they take plate holders only? Do they just plain suck? Seems like a relatively cheap way to get into LF and yet I've seen most go unsold and I've never seen anyone use them.

Thanks in advance for unraveling this for me.... :p


Glenn Thoreson
7-Jun-2008, 20:11
I assume you're talking about the 4X5 and 5X7 self casing cameras and not the Kodak Premos which were ordinary folding cameras for film packs. Prices on these things has gone way up lately. I have a Premo B 4X5 that I think I paid 20 bucks for some years back. It can use modern film holders but the fun way to use it is with plate holders and film sheaths. Why? Because the Premo B has a little storage space behind the focus panel where you can carry two extra holders in addition to one in place. Modern holders work fine but they're longer and won't allow the door on the holder compartment to close. These cameras normally come equipped with a B&L Rapid Rectilinear lens in a variety of unreliable primitive shutters. The RR lens is intensely sharp in the center portion of the negative but soft around the edges. They're fun to use. Models vary in design and features. My old Premo's bellows finally turned to dust. I just scavenged a bellows off an old Polaroid. It cuts off a little of the image. I don't care. It's a little short, so I stuck a 121mm Weitwinkel Anastigmat on it. Remember, these things are 100 years old. It will require some patience, care and maintenance. Fun! :D

7-Jun-2008, 20:37
Alec: I have a Pony Premo # 6 which will get a little work tomorrow , I have the orginal lens and shutter , also picked up a Planatagraph lens for it , and snuck in a 6-1/4" Double anastigmat by goerz for it: all three fit the org lens board on camera:

7-Jun-2008, 20:49
That lens/shutter looks beautiful!

7-Jun-2008, 21:35
I'm fixing one to be used with dryplates

8-Jun-2008, 01:01
Premo was original Rochester Optical Company, and Eastman Kodak ended up taking them over. The Premo name was used for everything from a 120 folding camera to 5x7 self-casing cameras.

If you're talking about the later, yeah, I use mine. Its a lot of fun.

8-Jun-2008, 18:19
Thanks, guys. Yeah, was the self-casing ones I was curious about. Nice to know people are shooting them...hope I get a chance to see one in person. Gorgeous camera, Lauren!


9-Jun-2008, 04:05
See my article on turn of the century folding view cameras (cycle cameras )



9-Jun-2008, 04:18
Dan: I due drop by from time to time to your web site ,thanks for all infomation you have there, and the time it took to get it together for all those old camera nuts: Lauren

2-Nov-2008, 05:03
Here's a Free Premo Catalog from 1910



Pat Kearns
2-Nov-2008, 21:01
I have a Premo Pony #3 that is a 5x7 camera made in 1908. A good friend found it in an antique store and purchased it for his collection. He brought it to me to look at it and tell him what I thought of it. It sat in someone's closet for decades because it is in beautiful condition. Bellows in perfect condition, outside leather shows only moderate wear at the most, overall condition 8. The only problem is that the shutter is a little sluggish. I was surprised about a year later he was in town and gave me the camera. It sat closed on a shelf for about 2 years. One night I decided to check the bellows for leaks and it was light tight. I then got a couple of film holders off ebay, some Tmax 400 from J&C and put it to work. Because it is 100 years old I use it to photograph things that are 100 years old. Here is a photo of it.