Yoshizen's Blog

Ensign and Old film

I found this Kodak 120 film inside of a junk Ensign camera. Camera itself may be 70 years old and the film might be as old as 60 ? years. —– the reason why I said not 70 years old was, when the film was developed, the image was very foggy = I guessed, it must be caused by the dirty lens (hence it was a junk) = Film was shot long after the camera lens became a foggy junk. (To clean the lens, I use Methylated Spirit. Never use Surgical alcohol which leaves skin cream, nor White Spirit which may melt some plastic and paint)

As I wrote before, this camera has almost no control, other than winding a film and click the shutter (of which the shutter duration was only known to be as Inst, or Time (B). = no Iris or any focus control. ——- Yet still, the developed old film showed rather consistent exposure (despite they were severely fogged) = may be the shots were made under the same hazy sun (very little shadow) on the well customised landscape.

No sharp detail though, the atmosphere of the time is certainly there.

To test the camera, I loaded the camera with a fresh Ilford FP-4 film, ISO 125 (I got it from the Photographer’s Gallery shop for £5 —– Jessop like shop doesn’t sell B/W film any more, not mention 120 films) and I exposed the film with the different lighting condition while making each record. (Such as the light level of what Sony A7R with its 40mm lens tells under F8 setting = I guessed the “Inst” of Ensign shutter was about 1/25 Sec’ and if A7R said 1/10 — give a click twice for the same image (while the camera was fixed on a tripod).

It seems, this lens has no defined focus in anywhere.

— (Was the theory. But as my mind was diverted to check the exposure reading in the A7R and to write the record down, I made double exposure mistake = the test was a mess. 😀 —– And I realised that I was neither a Zen Master. 😀 )

(Development of the films were done by D-76, 1+1, 20 degree C, 11 min’, 10 second agitation on every min’ )

Forget academic talk or Otaku taste kind. See what you can see on front. People like dirty old man likes pretty image, like “Miss— kind”. What’s wrong with it ? 😀


Ensign Viewfinder Camera ?

This photo was taken through the viewfinder of the 1940s Ensign camera.

Ensign camera was produced by the English Houghtons Ltd. And this streamlined Ful-Vue was made around 1946, using 120 film for 6×6 format.

I got this camera from the London Camera Exchange’s odds and ends box however as it came together with other shopping, I don’t know how much the price of this one though —– as it was non working dirty junk, price could not be more than few pound. SO, I spent next few days to clean and repair. (now the camera was cleaned and in good working condition !)

Camera itself was designed in the streamlined style and having large “aerial image viewfinder” (so that, it was named “Ful-Vue”) —– While checking this aerial image, I realised that I can take picture through this viewfinder. = = = So, I fixed a thin Nikon Z mount adaptor on Ensign’s viewfinder.

Unlike aerial image itself, the image through viewfinder lens could give only 1 feet (30 cm) focus. —– still, for close-up photo, its soft image was pretty interesting.

Though the viewfinder lens doesn’t have any great quality. Its got quite a heavy chromatic aberration. (still, for a fuzzy photo fan, those red and blue fringes were the mere accompanying decoration)

A difficulty of shooting with this camera was, to shoot a front subject while looking down, while following the subject which moves opposite direction. (because, they are the mirror image —– yet, strangely, while viewfinder’s aerial image is not reversed, why the photograph through the same lens got to be reversed or upside down ? ? ? 😀

May be I should have proper shooting test of this camera through its main lens, which is about 95 mm focal length with 12 mm diameter (its mean, the lens is about F8) —– but, no F-aperture, or Focus control ! = even worse, I don’t know how fast is its “Instant” shutter speed. (Shutter has Instant and Time ( = B) setting though, there is no tripod screw — How to use this B setting ? ? ? = 1940s people must have very solid steady hand) 😀


Ensign !

Oh my goodness, after 43 years, Britten leave the bunch of Europe.

—– After 43 years mean, a year before I came here, Brit joined EC.

It was just after the oil shock and the time Britten was in a doldrums. 

(Before North-sea Oil boom)

Still, something amazed me of this country then was that as the law 

was changed, the gay couple became eligible to have a council housing

like a married couple. (otherwise, single man was almost impossible

to get it in the priority queue = single mother, disabled, married with

children —- has higher priority) (Though, I didn’t know whether it

was due to the European regulation or trend of the human right issue)


Ensign is a national flag on the (battle) ship, so it symbolize somewhat

patriotic though I’m not talking about the politics here —– but

an old camera called Ensign made by the Houghtons, England.

Ensign Anastigmat Lens 6" (?) F7.7

Ensign Anastigmat Lens 6″ (?) F7.7

( A fog on the photo above was caused by a fungi and no coated lens)

Yet this is just a mediocre old camera made around 1910s and the

lens was a common anastigmat lens.  Nothing special or remarkable.

(If the lens was giving visibly too distinctive image, no one would

buy such camera.   😀 )

My friend Gordon wanted to use this lens to shoot on his

8mm cine camera. (so, I was asked to modify it to C-mount fitting)


The camera got the same design of the then trendy (!) folding camera

of a quarter plate size (4″x3″ = its contact print would make a post card).

The photo above left showed yet another old camera of the same era,

which I have talked about before.

The name of the lens Anastigmat mean, Ana (non) Stigmat (optical

aberration showing  cross-shaped ghost image) and designed to

eliminate not only Stigmat but also the other aberrations as well.

 (only in the certain level — just able to produce good enough

image = like the photo on top)


Strangely this lens doesn’t say what focal length — still, the maximum

F-aperture seemed to be F7.7 and the diameter of the lens is about

19~20mm —> 20 x 7.7 = 150mm —– and the 150mm lens for 4″x3″ 

size will make about 45° angle of view = good for full length portrait shot

on 2m distance.


To dismount the lens (together with shutter unit) it needs to use

caliper like tool from the back of the lens. (Photo above right)


Lens (and shutter together) was stacked on front of the bellows,

and 150mm lens for 35mm camera is a good telephoto lens.

—– but mind you, here only the center of the lens

= best part was used.


So, the image quality is not too bad other than the foggy halation

caused by the fungi.   But, neither the pleasing softness was there

— just an ordinary image.


People might have a false dream toward the old lens which could

create an archaic nostalgic image though, most of them would

make just ordinary image  only with foggy halation, caused by the

non-coated surface reflection if not a fungi. 

Because the visible difference on the image was created by the

uncorrected aberration which has to be (more or less) corrected 

except the very old primitive design such as the Petzbarl lens of

the Dageleo type era.     And, even if the lens happen to have an

aberration, it’s not apparent on the cropped center of the image. 

In fact, the false impression of the nostalgic image was made by 

the low resolution of the old film / plate, it may not be replicated

on a modern DSLR.

(Old film’s latitude was much narrower = shadow details lost but

with the halation inside of film emulsion, edge of the dark part

was eaten and together with the halation on the lens surface

made the image looks rather soft = created the image like a copy

of an old cinema frame = this is the reality of nostalgic image.)


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