View Full Version : Help identifying B&J camera

9-Apr-2011, 13:41
My father died in February and I have been tasked by my sibs to take charge of disposing of his large collection of antique, classic and vintage cameras. Have been doing OK until today.

In one of the boxes I opened today was this huge ol' thing! I am pretty sure it is a B&J large format camera but have not been able to do more than open the front of the sunshade, identify and remove the film cartridge and make it click when I manipulate the button to the left of the viewfinder! I have not been able to open the back even though there is a hinge at the bottom or extend the bellows (if there are some) or even identify what model it is.

Can someone help me out? There are a couple more images on my imageevent.com album.






9-Apr-2011, 14:08
A poor condition Burke and James press

9-Apr-2011, 14:10
Flip up the target looking thing on the top of the camera... There should be a button hidden under the leather that will release the camera bed

9-Apr-2011, 14:56
Many thanks.

Once I got it open, all became clear!

Now, how do I expand the lens/bellows system?

BTW, the interior of the camera is in much better condition than the exterior!

Jim Jones
10-Apr-2011, 08:33
There is a link to brief operating instructions here: http://www.xs4all.nl/~lommen9/Burke/index.html. Note that the cameras illustrated are somewhat different than yours. Many B&J press cameras had a rangefinder on the right side, but yours doesn't. It may have came without one, or someone may have removed it. We often do that if we don't expect to use them. Also, a few minor changes were made during the life of these cameras. The lens is attached to a 4" square lensboard that fits many other cameras, enabling one to easily remove and swap lenses between cameras. When selling the camera, describe the lens and shutter. It can make a difference. Even if the camera is without a lens, it has some value to photographers already owning lenses. The Burke & James is still a useable camera: I sometimes shoot with one. The more popular Speed Graphic may have been part of a larger system and a better designed and built camera, but the Burke & James has a few advantages, too. For working photographers it doesn't have to be cosmetically perfect. Feel free to ask any more questions.

10-Apr-2011, 17:38
Just what I needed! You guys have been most helpful!

Lynn Jones
11-Apr-2011, 10:42
Hi Big E

I had one of these years many years ago, they are tough but good cameras. I gave mine to a family friend's teen son who wanted to get into photography.

In 1975 or 76 I became VP of B&J I wanted to re-start manufacturing it, but couldn't find the tooling or other data. In checking with the former owner and my long time friend, George Drucker, I found out. The labor and difficulty in making this camera were so time consuming that George and an assistant threw the tooling into the Chicago River at Lake St. at about 3:00 AM one morning (I think in the very early 1960's, he was not sure). So much for my plans.


11-Apr-2011, 16:46
Great story, Lynn!
One would assume that alcohol or some illegal veggies were involved?