View Full Version : Mystery camera

Wayne Lambert
11-Jun-2009, 15:45
Picked this camera up many years ago free from a closing-the-building junk pile.
It seems to be a 5x7 plate camera. Camera has no manufacturer's name or model name. The ground glass (gg measures 5 x 7 inches) and frame are removable so the plate holder can be attached. The threaded lens mount is 32 mm in diameter. The camera has rear focus and front shift and rise. The bellows (poor condition) is blue fabric with burgandy leather trim. Three inches back from the front standard is a curious hinge in the bed and gear track which I can't understand. It would allow upward tilt but there is no way to lock it. In the photographs the camera is racked out to 12 inches.

Also in the pile were two plate holders which do not appear to go with this camera; no manufacturer's name on them, either. A 5x7 (5 1/16 x 7 1/8) glass plate is in one holder. Probably had a famous picture on it. One holder contains 3 1/2 x 4 3/4 insert holder and mask, for lantern slides I assume.

At one time it was a beautiful camera---brass and maghogany (?), blue and burgandy bellows, but apparently the camera and holders had been stored in a room with a leaky roof and one holder has water-damaged wood and there are streaks on the camera and other holder.

Any ideas as to manufacturer, age, history?
Wayne Lambert

W K Longcor
11-Jun-2009, 16:05
I'll be watching replys from those in the know --- I've had one of these cameras for years now ( mine is in really nice shape) -- with several plate holders and three Suter lenses. I always thought it was particularly pretty with the colorful bellows. I bought mine from a very elderly Swiss gentleman who had come to the USA as a young adult. It looks like several different cameras in the books -- bt doesn't really match any of them. Let's hope we both learn.;)

11-Jun-2009, 17:19
It looks great, absolutely worth restoring. Congrad's !


Wayne Lambert
11-Jun-2009, 19:08
I'm a little slow. A little more fiddling revealed that the hinge is used to close the camera. To close the camera the back standard is rolled forward to touch the back of the front standard. Then the bed is folded up against the back standard protecting the ground glass. The hanging hook on the side of the front standard, and another like it on the other side, secure the bed in folded position. I also learned that in unfolded position the bed can be slid backwards for double extension. The tripod socket on the bottom is also on a sliding panel that allows forward/backward positioning. All this secured and opened by clever brass locks and bars. Lenses were probably changed via the sliding lens panel; each lens mounted on its own panel.

W K, do the plate holders look anything like mine?

Thanks, Peter. It's an interesting camera.

W K Longcor
12-Jun-2009, 07:42
W K, do the plate holders look anything like mine?

Very similar -- I'll dig one out and take a picture for you ( Might take a day or so). :)

Ernest Purdum
12-Jun-2009, 10:09
All I can say is that my guess it is German, though cameras not all that different were made in other European countries. They were called "Reisekameras" meaning travel cameras. Their large lensboard is useful with the big old brass cannons and they are also able to use shorter lenses than one might expect.

Ole may be able to narrow things down further but it is really a shame how many makers didn't sign their work.

12-Jun-2009, 20:45
Appears to have front rise and shift and back tilt.
A lot of capability and folds to very a compact "brick"
Very cool
I'd like to see it tilted, rised, shifted and extended, just for fun, and folded up?

13-Jun-2009, 08:14
There were the Reisekameras, already mentioned.

Also, the russians made a copy. Search for FK or FKD camera to find more on them. They usually came with 'industar' large format lenses.

Wayne Lambert
14-Jun-2009, 14:26
Ernest and Wimpler have pretty much solved the mystery. Many thanks. It's obviously a 13 x18 cm plate Reisekamera. Three websites were particularly helpful: www.camerapedia.org/wiki/Reisekamera, www.rus-camera.com, and www.ussrphoto.com/Wiki. The question now is, is it a late 19th/early 20th century Reisekamera or is it a Russian copy made 1930-1987? I'm inclined to think it is an old camera (fine brass fittings, fine wood construction and finishing), but interestingly a Russian FK plate camera shown at www.rus-camera.com has blue fabric bellows with burgandy leather trim just like my camera. Perhaps it's an older camera with newer Russian bellows. I'll let someone else answer that question. If someone would be interested in restoring the camera or parting it out please let me know. I would be happy to give it to you. If you restore it send me a picture.

Ed, I've put the camera through a few more paces as shown below: double extension bed, front rise and shift, focusing screen raised to accept plate holder, and camera folded (rear view). Not shown, but the back also tilts forward and backward. Folded the camera measures 9 3/4 x 9 3/4 x 3 1/2 inches (knobs included). A compact package.
Wayne Lambert

14-Jun-2009, 15:40
Send you a PM.


15-Jun-2009, 12:59
If someone would be interested in restoring the camera or parting it out please let me know. I would be happy to give it to you. If you restore it send me a picture.

I whish you thank Wayne from this place for his truely amazing offer and have taken him up to it.
The camera will be welcomed with all my heart and will be restored with all my love.

Thanks again, Wayne, you are a great man !


Wayne Lambert
15-Jun-2009, 17:04
Well, thank you, Peter. I'm glad you have it. I think it's going to the perfect home.