View Full Version : One-shot Cameras... any resources?

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11-11-2011, 03:02 PM
First off, the "dichroic reflector" is not used in the Hicro camera, as is made evident by reading the Hicro camera patent more thoroughly. However, the superficial similarity made me jump to conclusions. The dichroic reflector still remains a bit of a mystery to me and I'm quite curious if such a piece of glass coated with a thin alcoholic solution of tartrazine (yellow) would reflect the complementary color, blue. I guess I should try it.

Anyways, the Hicro doesn't require this because the blue-plate is merely unsensitized and thus requires no special filtration to record only the blue light.

Also, here are some cleaned-up pictures provided by Bob to further illustrate the Hess-Ives Hicro camera.

11-16-2011, 10:48 AM
A few more images of the Hicro camera for the sake of being comprehensive. Courtesy of Bob Lansdale of course.

One image shows the front page of U.S. patent 1,287,327 which shows the folding tri-pack. An earlier patent details such a tri-pack but with tape/fabric hinges. This later improvement has a metal hinge and "plate-pack" construction.

The last image is from a totally different patent for a totally different camera, but that one is worth checking out as well. U.S.P. 1,153,229 (by the way, these are all available on Google patents)

If anyone out there is fooling around with panchromatic emulsions (cough, cough, Bill... ;)), it might be a good idea to start designing a 3-color camera in your mind.

12-06-2011, 02:23 PM
I was looking through a 1941 issue of 'The Complete Photographer' last night that had a full & complete rundown of current offerings for one-shot & color cameras.

For one, there were a number of 'single-mirror' cameras and even a single-mirror back that could be put on an ordinary view camera. The single-mirror cameras require the use of a bipack in one of the film holders. Apparently Defender (and perhaps others) supplied appropriate bipack films for these types of cameras. These cameras represented the "affordable end", and I think kits were even available in the less than $50 range. These cameras are direct descendants of the Hicro!

Then we get to the big leagues; two-mirror cameras that take 3 negatives simultaneously in 3 separate holders. I was amazed at the prices of these... anywhere from $600 to nearly $1000. That comes to about $15,000 in today's money.

Also surprising (to me) was how thin the pellicle mirrors are: 1 mil to 0.2 mils thick. I imagine those are very delicate...

Does anyone know how the pellicles were made? I recall Wall & Jordan's 'Photographic Facts & Formulas' had a variety of formulas for silvering glass, but I'd like to know more about this. Patents perhaps?

Here's a great look at some complete one-shot camera setups -> http://www.smugmug.com/gallery/1377632_HJEJJ/1/65026459_3dDPF#65026459_3dDPF

I plan on scanning and posting the aforementioned article. And yes, I know...

12-06-2011, 02:39 PM
A real beauty... http://www.earlyphotography.co.uk/site/entry_C292.html#C292

The mirror arrangement on this one is flummoxing, befuddling and downright perplexing.

12-06-2011, 03:16 PM
Unexpectedly, I found the exact article on color cameras that I referred to above. So, no need to scan I guess...


12-06-2011, 06:46 PM
In the article referenced above, they mention Defender Tricolor cut film. There was a box of it for sale on eBay a few weeks ago. I don't know if it sold or not.

12-06-2011, 10:14 PM
Thanks for the tip, though I can't find it in completed auctions.

12-08-2011, 10:19 AM
This is totally new to me. 3-color cameras in small formats, for the amateur market.

If anybody knows anything about these cameras, please do tell. All I have are these links and the names, that's all I know, though I'll search in the meantime. And if you've got one to sell, send me a PM... ;)


OMI Sunshine:


12-08-2011, 10:44 AM
The Spektaretta - The smallest camera in the world for three-colour photography. This camera was manufactured by the firm Optikotechna Prerov in 1939. The camera created three separate negatives 2424 mm on a usual black/white 35 mm film. A sophisticated splitting prism system ensuring minimal light losses (combined with a low weight of the camera 1100 g) made it possible to realize snapshots as well.

12-08-2011, 11:00 AM
The OMI Sunshine - Italian camera that dates to 1947. The red, green and blue records are recorded in a space slightly smaller than a full 35mm frame. The individual images are approximately 8 x 11mm, about the size of a Minox image. The focal length of the lenses is 35mm so the lenses are quite long in relation to the image size. The angle of view is very narrow.

Here is a writeup on the Yahoo! History of Color Photography group by Scott of this great website. (http://www.vintagephoto.tv/). You might have to join to see these, but it's easy and well worth it I would have to think. http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/history_of_color_photography/message/78

Here are some pictures & color composites from the camera.

12-08-2011, 12:09 PM
Anyone know more about the Mitsumura-Bermpohl Process?

In 1939, Mitsumura imported a Bermpohl Naturfarbenkamera (tricolor camera) from Germany and Kitazumi was given the task of exploring its use as a part of the color printing process. In the years leading up to Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, Mitsumura imported two additional tricolor cameras, National Photocolor Lerochrome and Devin Tricolor, from the US. These cameras were used by Mitsumura to develop a photographic printing process which they named the Mitsumura-Bermpohl Process (MBP).

From Genzou Kitazumi's wikipedia article. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genz%C5%8D_Kitazumi#cite_ref-mitsumura_2-0)

12-08-2011, 12:46 PM
From Kitazumi's grandson (interesting discussion about him on the yahoo! group), "I believe MBP process is a part of offset printing process in which color separated negatives are directly transferred to glass plates as screened positives thereby reducing the intermediary steps required in older processes. Less intermediate steps resulted in better transfer of halftone values."

12-08-2011, 01:16 PM
Bermpohl One Shot Cameras.


12-15-2011, 05:50 PM
This is the best one man thread I've read in a while. Quite a compilation. It's very tempting to delve into this with modern materials. If color film becomes extinct, this will be the Rosetta Stone.

12-16-2011, 03:12 PM
Hey Bob, thanks very much!

I completely agree with you about the demise of color film... and that's probably one of the biggest reasons for starting to think about how to make one of these awesome cameras.

I guess we should've studied that one at GEH a little closer when we had access to it... ;)

02-27-2012, 12:20 PM
Two gems on eBay currently, and I took the liberty of copying the photographs and preserving them here.

Here is a manual for the Devin -> http://www.cameramanuals.org/booklets/devin_tricolor.pdf

02-27-2012, 12:25 PM
The light path...

03-04-2012, 07:13 PM
The above Devin camera just sold on eBay for $1500, even though it's mainly just the skeleton.

I bet with $1500 you could construct a working prototype of a 3-color camera, optimistically.

In the pictures above you can see that there are provisions for fine tuning the placement & parallelism of the reflectors. Trying to build the mirrors right into the body without some kind of adjustable frame would be futile, don't you reckon?

When was the last 1-shot camera made? Consider the advances in machining since then! I bet a CNC machine could eat a 3-color camera for breakfast. National Photocolor still exists and can do custom pellicles. A 5x7" one appears to be only $250.

Fun to think about...