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  1. #1
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    Ensar - Xpres enigma

    Over the last year I've acquired some Xpres lenses.

    The first is an 105mm f3.8 Xpres fitted to an Ensign 820 6x9 camera and is in the more modern version of the Epsilon shutter.



    The second lens was bought at a camera fair a few months ago for £5 ($7.50), the one on the right below, it's coated and in a Ross Trikon shutter (similar to an early 3 speed Epsilon) it has flash sync, it's clearly a 105mm f3.8 Xpres but the engravins ghave been painted over (looks like at the time of production). I picked up a 6x9 Ensign Ranger at the next camera fair missing a lens (again for £5) but the Trikon doesn't have a shutter release arm. So while it fits the it's a compromise.




    Now for the Enigma, I bought tthe lens on the left from a friend yesterday, it's a 107mm Ensar Anasigmat f3.8, in an early Ensign Epsilon shutter, it's uncoated and the shutter has no flash sync, it has a low serial number as well.



    This f3.8 Ensar lens isn't listed in any of the Ensign adverts or the Vade Mecum, although Ross did make f4.5 versions, it's clearly an early uncoated version of the 105mm Xpres, the front and rear cells are the same. There's no references to this lense anywhere, so quite strange.

    It will fit nicely on the Ensign Ranger which is of similar age. I'm tempted to swap the lens elements though.

    Ian

  2. #2

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    The ensar was for many years the standard lens in ensign cameras, I have an Ensign Commando from 1948 with the ensar lens, uncoated, and stoped down it is no mean performer, but it can be prone to flare, The express lens seems to come into regular ensign use when Ross more or less took over the company, but certainly most pre war ensigns came with the ensar, which was,I think, produced in house by Houghton butcher, and I think is a triplet in design,
    Richard

  3. #3
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    The Xpres on the Selfix and similar Ensign cameras was released in 1949, it's always coated.

    The Ensars were made by Ross for Houghton Butcher - Ensign cameras from the early 1930's rather than in house, prior to that hey had used Aldis lenses, the top of the range models used Tessars or ocassionally Xenars. Some Ensars may have been Triplet design but not all, the name covers a family of lenses made for Ensigns.

    The Ensar I've just acquired is definitely not a triplet and identical optically to the Xpres but it's clear that it'll have less contrast with no coatings, and probably be more susceptible to flare.

    Ian

  4. #4

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    I have 3 pre war Ensigns and they all have the Ensar, and they are all triplets, I took two apart for cleaning and triplets they are, the ensar was re named the Rosstar in several fifties ensign's by Ross, they were used on the budget ensign's, again I have two in my collection, and I took one apart to clean and it is indeed a triplet,When using the un coated ensars while the contrast is not up to express standards it is pretty good, as far as the xpress lens, as far as I can find out, it was fitted to the top of the range cameras with the 8 speed epsilon shutters and the rostar, in the cameras with the older epsilon shutters, the two I have, both 16/20, have the rosstar/ lower spec epsilon, I don't use them very often, prefering the xpress/8 speed combination,

  5. #5
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    It's probable that Ross redesigned the Ensar lenses during WWII, they brought out an f3.5 version sold in the newer Epsilon with 1/200 top speed which was fitted to the Commando. The BJP Almanac for 1941 shows German lenses & shutters on only a few top models and stocks must have been very low by then. By the following year no specific cameras are listed but they state that Ensar lenses are of the highest quality.

    Ian

  6. #6

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    I agree that the Ensar lenses are certainly of the highest quality,I am perfectly happy using my cameras with the Ensar, but my Commando, which is from 1948, has an episolon shutter with a top speed of 1/300 with a 3.5 ensar lens, in fact every post war ensign I have with the xpress lens has a top speed of 1/300 bar my 820 which has a top speed of 1/200, and I had a 16/20 that had the xpress lens and an episolon with a top speed of 1/400, there must have been some variation in the cameras,
    Richard

  7. #7
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    There seems to be considerable variation with the Epsilon shutter itself considering they are all the same #0 compatible fit. There was a three speed version that I assume was renamed as the Trikon, then some with a top speed of 1/150 (as in the photo above) and oothers with a top speed of 1/200, 1/250, 1/300 and 1/400. My 820 Xpres has the 1/250 version (again in a photo above)

    Then there's the slightly different Kodak Epsilons, 1/150 top speed.

    Ian



 

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