Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Ensign Ful-Vue

The Ensign Ful-Vue is an English box camera manufactured by Houghton-Butcher. Early pre-war versions were simply a box with a larger than normal viewfinder. The copmpany re-designed the camera in 1946 giving it an 'aerodynamic' look which still looks quirky today. The version above is from about 1950 and is a Ful-Vue II with a flash socket just to the right of the lens.

The body is made of pressed steel making the camera robust but quite light, the viewfinder is a separate unit also made of pressed steel. The shutter housing is made of a Bakelite type material held on by three screws making shutter and lens removal easy (more later)
The left hand side has a locking knob which when twisted to 'unlock allows the right hand side panel to be removed for film loading/retrieval.

Inside is a baffle and film holder, the Ful-Vue takes standard commonly available 120 film and has a red window for viewing frame advance.
All simple stuff, one shutter speed and aperture mean little control coupled with a simple lens that has three position scale focus 2, 5-3 and 6 to (I'm assuming feet).

My camera when it arrived had what I call a 'lazy shutter' in other words it had an intermittent non firing, but armed with some help from a Flickr member 'Full-Vue' I was able to take apart and clean the shutter.
After cleaning and re-assembly the shutter works fine, I didn't lubricate the simple mechanism I just gave it a polish.
In the winter in the UK with a box camera you really need a 400ISO film as I'm betting the shutter is about 1/60 and the lens probably f8 or 11.

The above was shot on a very dull cold day on Fortepan 400 developed for 1hr in Rodinal 1:100 stand.
I like the camera for its 'quirkyness' and simplicity, the big viewfinder looks great almost like a TLR in size and brightness, and for the times when you want a simple box with a lens-fun!

©2011 Photo Utopia

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