Ensign Selfix 820

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by richard littlewood, Jul 22, 2005.

  1. richard littlewood

    richard littlewood Member

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    I have one of these cracking 6x9 folders being delivered while I'm off on holiday. Its got the Ross xpress lens. While I'm off I will have an opportunity to get hold of a few contrast filters for it, and maybe a lens hood. Upshot is no one knows the filter size/type. I'd love to get using the camera as soon as we return. I bet some one on APUG knows what the filter size is! - please.
     
  2. medform-norm

    medform-norm Member

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    Hey Richard,

    congratulations on what it said to be a nice folder. We own several Ross Xpres lenses ourselves and are very happy with most of them (we disagree on one between ourselves)
    As to your question: either you shun photo.net or you're not looking very hard. A simple Google came up with this right away from a photo.net post:

    "the ross lens is surprisingly good AND you can use the voigtlander skopar/heliar 105mm f3.5 shades on the ross (or any other 40.5 shade you have around the house. properly shaded, the optic IS very sharp AND the it has a beautiful tonal range."

    I hope we can trust the man who said this (he confesses to have one and use it), coz I don't know for sure. David A. G. might know.

    Cheers, norm
     
  3. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Measure the gate. My Selfix 820's is quite a bit shorter than the 82 mm I expected.

    I'm not overjoyed with mine. Not that much smaller or lighter than a Century Graphic, and my Century with uncoated (!) 101/4.5 Ektar takes larger and better pictures. But then I've never had more-or-less pocketable folder than I liked except a couple of Retina IIs.
     
  4. medform-norm

    medform-norm Member

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    Dan, he can't measure the gate, as the camera arrives after he's already left for vacation. Richard would like to know in advance so he can shop while away!

    Besides, what do you mean by saying the gate (??) is 82mm - is that the length size of the negative you get out of an 820? Sorry if I didn't grasp that. I passed my TOEFL, but tech jargon wasn't part of the exam.
     
  5. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Norm, I'm a native speaker of English and I'm not sure I could pass TOEFL. Gate refers to open area in the back of the camera over which the film passes. It isn't used much in still photography, is used much more in cinematography. For example, "amateur cinematographers sometimes produce footage in which no or careless cleaning causes the dread hair in gate effect."

    Anyway, if I remember correctly my Selfix 820 with 105/3.8 Ross Xpres in Epsilon produces negatives that are 57 mm x 78 mm. That is the size of the gate. Quite short for nominal 6x9.

    About the camera's quality. I was very happy after I acquired mine, until I mentioned I'd got one to Roger Hicks. He was politely scathing about Ensigns in general and tessar type lenses in particular. As I insist on telling people who, on the whole, would rather not know, mine isn't that good a picture taker. Other Selfix 820s may be better.

    What Richard needs to know is the type (slip-on, screw in) and size of filters and lens hood to look for. If no one has replied by this evening I'll dig mine out, look and, if necessary, measure.

    Cheers,
     
  6. medform-norm

    medform-norm Member

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    Dan, thanks for the compliment. Maybe two years of US college wasn't completely waisted on me. :tongue: Although I do remember having a hard time with common household words like wall sockets, prongs and ironing boards. Good to hear my educated guess wasn't too bad.

    I agree, 78 mm is pretty short for a 6x9. Maybe that is why Bessa II enjoys such popularity - it gives one of the biggest negs within that range (and without film flatness issues). Hence, screwing a Ross on a Bessa with a waisted lens sounds like a brilliant idea, provided it's technically possible.

    Yes, it will be interesting to see if the photo.net poster was right about the size being 40.5. For if it is, it's definitely not the same size as the Heliar on Bessa. I just did a quick measurement and that filter size looks closer to 38mm! So, something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

    Would you have to dig very deep to find your 820?
     
  7. Donald Qualls

    Donald Qualls Member

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    Nothing related to the gate, however, has anything to do with the filter size -- though that question seems to have been answered, in that it uses the 40.5 (push on?) filters that fit the same spec Heliar.

    Richard, even if the gate is short (more like 6x8 than 6x9), you'll probably like the Selfix 820 -- there are no bad Ross Express lenses.
     
  8. richard littlewood

    richard littlewood Member

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    Thanks for all the input, although I would really like someone to say yes its a screw fit and yes its 40.5!. What got me thinking in the first place was I couldn't make out from any pic I've seen of this camera and lens if it actually had any threads on the lens front at all. Dan if you wouldn't mind having a look at yours, I'd be dead grateful.
     
  9. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Norm, I'm going to have to adjust my memory.

    I took wretched thing out of its closet and measured. The front element of the lens is not threaded internally for screw-in filters. Its outer diameter, taken with a dial calipers, is 42.00 mm.

    Since I had it out, I checked the size of the gate again. I was wrong. Repeated measurements got 55.35 x 80.55. A little low, a little short, but not as short as I remembered. I also measured a couple of transparencies shot with it. Around 80. Rats! I hate it when I'm mistaken and think I'm not.

    Donald, you're right, there are no bad Ross Express lenses. But that's because there are no Ross Express lenses.

    I can't evaluate the one tessar type Ross Xpres I have independently of the body it is attached to; subject to that caveat it is not up to an ok 101/4.5 Ektar. I have evaluated a 5"/4 Wide Angle Xpres, the military one with the big front element, and mine is awful. Flary, as expected, and not very sharp.

    Blanket blessings/condemnations of untested old lenses are dangerous. Each one is, after all those years of use and abuse, unique. The only way to find out whether this here lens is ok is to ask it.

    Cheers,
     
  10. medform-norm

    medform-norm Member

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    Funny you mention this typo. A few days ago we came across this post on photo.net (yes, again, I know) in which someone called Walden made a fine distinction between Xpres and Xpress lenses - but this is the only mention we've ever come across on the web:

    Chauncey L. Walden , aug 16, 2001; 05:19 p.m.
    My 9th edition (1951) of Optics The Technique of Definition by Arthur Cox says: "Another modification of the triplet construction is the Ross Xpres lens in which the compounding of the back crown is carried a stage further with the aim of obtaining among other things a still better correction of zonal spherical aberration." The Xpress seems to be a longer, slower version of the Xpres, covering 50 degrees instead of 45 . The diagram shows what would otherwise be a Tessar except that the cemented rear doublet is instead a triplet, hence 5 elements in 3 groups. Cox apparently considers the Tessar to be derived from the Cooke Triplet, however, Rudolph Kingslake in A History of the Photographic Lens (1989)says: "It is certain that the Tessar was not a modified Triplet, as the series of steps followedby Rudolph in going from the Anastigmat to the Tessar are well established, but for some of the later designs it is not always clear whether they should be regarded as modified Tessars or modified Triplets." About the Xpres: "The Tessar was such an excellent design that other workers would have liked to copy it but were prevented from doing so by patent limitations. The simplest way out was to use a cemented triplet in the rear instead of a doublet. Several designs of this type appeared in 1913, including the Ross Xpres by J. Stuart and J. W. Hasselkus..."

    Hmm, don't we love murky lens history posts?

    Just as much as we love posts like these, in which now three different filter threads have been mentioned, leaving poor Richard to decide which one of these measurements he's going to trust (I would trust yours, Dan). And thank you for yet another beautiful word: "dial calipers".

    Cheers, Norm
     
  11. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    This may be a little too obvious but I won't let it stop me-) Ensign is an English camera. 82mm would be 3.25" Or about that. Why would anybody expect an English company to not make an English format camera?
     
  12. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Nick, 2.25" x 3.25" is an american format, as far as I know invented by Kodak for 120 film. But nowadays the world is pretty well metricated, US' backwardness notwithstanding. 35 mm is also an american format, invented jointly by Eastman and Edison. Go figure.

    2.25" x 3.25" does not go evenly into the native UK LF film/plate size 1 plate. A plate is 6.5" x 8.5", the smallest commonly used fractional plate is quarter plate, 3.25" x 4.25".

    2.25" x 3.25" is commonly approximated in metric by 6x9. This is not a good approximation even though it comes very close to preserving the format's aspect ratio. Can't shoot 6x9 on 120 film, the film's not wide enough.

    There was a metric 6.5 x 9 sheet film size that's not used much these days.

    None of this matters very much except when trying to compare angles of view given focal length across formats. Then, if we get a format's dimensions wrong we get the equivalent focal length wrong.
     
  13. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Oh by the way, Nick, I received a batch of mount adapters and bracketry from SKGrimes on Wednesday.

    My 260/10 Nikkor-Q (looks like a Process Nikkor, came in a wooden box like a Process Nikkor, stops only to f/32 like a Process Nikkor) covers 2x3 at infinity front-mounted on a #1 and focuses to about 12 feet on my 2x3 Pacemaker Speed. I guess now I'll have to use the fool thing. I told you I'd do it sooner or later.

    Even more interesting, the tandem camera went together as designed and my 480/9 Apo Nikkor focuses to about 12 feet on it. Seems to cover too, but only shooting will verify that.

    Its a disappointment, but the tandem camera's short configuration is a little too thick to allow my 305/9 Apo Nikkor to focus to infinity. So I tried the 305 on the 2x3 Speed and it too will work there. Doesn't look quite as absurd as the 260 ...
     
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  15. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    My understanding is 120 was a follow on format. The same film used to come with different backing paper for different camera formats. So instead of having three sets of numbers on the paper you'd buy 2.25x2.25 or whatever format film your camera took.

    Ensign invented the 129 film format. Which is I think 2x3.
     
  16. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    Dunno about the 260/10 Nikkor-Q, but my 260/10 Process Nikkor, 305/9 Apo Nikkor and 480/9 Apo Nikkor all focus at infinity on my 8x10 Wehman (barrel mounted with lens sock shutters) and they all cover 8x10 with movements.
     
  17. richard littlewood

    richard littlewood Member

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    I'm still looking foreward to using the 820 despite the mixed reactions!. I usually use 5x4, but I also use an Olympus pen quite a lot. What I was after was a 'vintage' compact camera to use like I use the Olympus,that was easy to use, gave a bigger neg, very easy to carry. With this in mind I thought the 820 would do along with a light monopod, small meter, lens hood and a couple of filters. I could walk for miles with this little set!
    I'm still not 100% sure of the filter size although I reckon its 42mm push on. I'm not really into collecting vintage stuff to display, I'd much rather use it, so I'll have a look at the lens front after my hols and perhaps epoxy a ring on the front (if it will still fold up) that will use the large amount of 49mm filters / hoods I already have. If I can't do that, then who knows!. Some of this vintage stuff is maddening!
     
  18. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    Houghton Ensigne Selfix

    I seem to remember way back in the mists of time, in the early fiftys I lusted after one of these, and pressing my nose close to the camera store window to get a closer look , as far as I recall it took 40.5 mm push on filters. At that time I recall the Epsilon shutter had a bad reputation, although I never owned one.
     
  19. medform-norm

    medform-norm Member

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    Okay, now we've got a second mention of the 40.5 push-on filters. We're getting really curious what you find when back from your hols, Richard...

    Epsilon shutters: hmm, well, we have one on a post-war 5in Ross WA. The lens is very sharp, but the shutter is a little unreliable indeed. We check it a couple of times before taking the plunge of making an exposure. What we really need to do is take it apart and take a long and severe look at its insides to make it behave properly. No idea why its so unstable. Bad design?
     
  20. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Thanks for the reply, Tom. If it wasn't clear, I shoot 2x3 with 2x3 Graphics. My tandem camera is just a pair of 2x3 Graphics; rear camera holds the film, front camera holds the lens. A far cry from a Wehman.
     
  21. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    It was clear to me that you were using a 2x3 (or 2 2x3's), Dan.

    I shoot 6x7, 6x9 and 6x12 rollfilm with my 8x10 Wehman. I have a 4x5 Graflock reducing back for the Wehman and several rollfilm backs.

    The Wehman may be about the same weight as your tandem graphic??
     
  22. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Tom, I wouldn't be surprised if a Wehman were a little lighter that a Century, a 2x3 Pacemaker Speed, and the bracketry. But its in a whole different universe in several respects.

    Movements, for one. Practically speaking, my rig allows none.

    Cost, for another. My Speed can't use short lenses, that's why I have the Century. The Century can't use long or barrel lenses, that's why I have the Speed. Getting from the two of them to the tandem rig requires a pair of brackets to hold the cameras together with their backs parallel and a coupling to put between them to keep the dark in. The bracketry is lighter, more compact, and even though expensive -- I WOULD wimp out and have a good machinist drill the holes and make the bits for the coupling -- is much less expensive than a long camera.

    Flexibility for another. You can shoot larger than 2x3 with it if you want. If I want to go up in format, I'll have to buy another camera.

    I'm not sure that if I were starting out from zero I'd leap to an 8x10 camera with reducing back, but it is a solution to the problem my tandem rig addresses.

    For curiosity, what's the shortest lens you use with the Wehman? I shoot a 38/4.5 Biogon (doesn't cover 2x3) and a 47/5.6 SA (covers) on the Century, a 44/2.8 Elcan (doesn't cover, on the whole the 47 SA is better) and 65/8 Ilex (covers) on the Speed.

    Cheers,

    Dan
     
  23. Donald Qualls

    Donald Qualls Member

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    Really? I have a Voigtlander Rollfilmkamera from 1928; its descendent, the Inos I, was sold in 129 as well as 120, and the 129 was smaller -- between 120 and 127, for a (nominally) 5x8 (2x2.75 inches, roughly) rather than 6x9 negative. I found this information while looking for identifying information for my camera, which I was originally told was an Inos I but doesn't have the dual format red windows.

    Oh, and 120 was originally sold by Kodak with only 6x9 markings, dating back to around the turn of the 20th century. Early cameras with 6x4.5 capability (starting in the late 1920s or very early 1930s) had two windows, and the 6x9 framing track was used by advancing to one window, then the other (I have a Wirgin Auta made in the 1950s that still had this). The earliest 6x6 cameras, all TLRs, had either automatic film counters/stops like the Rolleiflex and some versions of the Voigtlander Brilliant, or a *three* window system on the 6x9 track with odd numbers framed in the first and third window, even numbers in the middle one only. There was in fact another format, same width, length, and spools, sold with 6x4.5 markings, and may have been one in 6x6 as well, but all the markings were combined into 120 film at about the time manufacturers stopped using other designations for film that was the same width and same spool spec as 120 -- approximately 1950.
     
  24. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    Dan, with a flat lens board for 8x10 - with no movements - my 110mm Schneider SS XL. The 110mm will cover a vertical 8x10 at infinity without camera bed interference. For 8x10 coverage with movements, my 150mm Schneider SS XL.

    For 4x5 (and smaller) with a flat lens board, my 65mm Schneider SA. I also have a 55mm Apo Grandagon, but that would require a recessed lens board (I'd need about another 10mm to focus at infinity). I'd likely be in trouble with 4x5 verticals.

    I currently am using the 55mm Apo Grandagon on a flat lens board on my 4x5 Shen Hao.
     
  25. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    Ensign #2 was called 129 by Kodak. #1 was 128. #2 supposedly came out in 1912? #1 is even earlier.

    117 was supposedly 2.25"x2.25". It's listed to have come out in 1900. Did they have automatic film stops that early?
     
  26. Donald Qualls

    Donald Qualls Member

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    Interesting. Those numbers were assigned sequentially, which implies 117 predates 120, and that 6x6 predates 6x9 in roll film (though the first few were retroactively applied to existing formats when the 100 series numbering was started not long before 1900). Interesting because NONE of the earliest German TLRs had a center window -- the Brilliant had a starter window on the 6x9 track, the Rolleiflex (of course) had the automatic counter start, and there were a couple models with the three-window system on the 6x9 track. Perhaps this is just because they were made to use the Agfa B2 film, which was identical to 120 (including having only a 6x9 track in the earliest days, though B2 apparently had 6x6 by the time my Speedex Jr. was made, around 1948).

    Ah, my film size reference (http://www.prairienet.org/b-wallen/BN_Photo/FilmSizes.htm) shows 117 had different flange diameter and length than 120 -- might or might not have fit 120 cameras (the length difference is small), depending on the drive arrangement, but certainly wasn't perfectly compatible. So if a 6x6 was intended to use B2/120, it needed the film counter or three-window system, at least prior to WWII.

    In fact, I believe it was 620 that introduced multiple framing tracks on a single film; I've seen 620 cameras in 6x9 and 6x6 dating from immediately post-War, if not pre-War, and the Duo 620 half-frame had a single window as well, I think (pre-War half-frame 120 cameras were, AFAIK, always dual window).