Lumiere Lumireflex

The Lumiere brothers’ main claim to fame is the invention of colour photography in 1903 with their Autochrome plates. To be honest, this is all I knew of the Lumieres until I came across this camera. My naming of the camera – Lumireflex – is considered conjecture on my part as the name plate above the lens is missing. Looking at Sylvain Halgand’s site (collection-appareils) tells me that Lumiere only made two TLR cameras, this one and the Lumiflex and that mine is the Lumireflex.

Lumiere Lumireflex

lens: Spector (taking), unknown (viewing)
focal length:  80 cm
apertures: f/4.5 to f/16
focus range: 1 m to infinity
lens fitting: fixed
shutter: Atos 2
speeds: 1 second to 1/300 seconds
flash: PC connector
film size120

Lumiere Lumireflex

The description:

This camera obviously builds on the Rolleiflex concept but is not just a copy. The camera consists of a body measuring 130 x 80 x 100 mm when closed. The viewing hood adds a further 50 mm to the height. It weighs 735 g with no film in place.

There are two lenses: a lower lens to produce the photograph and an upper lens for composition and focusing. The lower lens is a Lumiere Spector lens with a focal length of 80 mm – this is a ‘normal’ lens for a 6 x 6 cm negative and is equivalent to 45 mm on 35 mm film or 28 mm on a APS-C digital camera. It has a maximum aperture of f/4.5. I have tried to determine how many elements the lens has by counting reflections from the various surfaces. I can see four reflections in front of the shutter and two behind so I think this is a triplet lens. Sylvain Halgand confirms this. Both front and rear lens elements have a blue cast so the lens is coated (at least on two surfaces).

Lumiere Lumireflex

The focus lens has no model name but does have the legends “Lumiere”, “1:3.5” and “f=80” so this lens has a wider aperture than the taking lens. This will be possible as the various aberrations lenses are prone to do not really matter in the focus lens while they clearly do in the taking lens.

The camer is focused by looking down into the open top and turning the focus lens until the image is sharp. This action also focuses  the taking lens (they are coupled by a toothed gear).

The focus ring has a distance scale which runs from just under 1 metre to infinity. There is also a depth-of-field scale. The way the Depth-of-filed scale is printed, the numbers are upside down to the user – still usable but could easily have been made easier. There is an anomaly here in as much as the depth-of-field scale goes to f/22 but the taking lens only stops down to f/16. I would assume that there was a more expensive option with the smaller aperture.

Lumiere Lumireflex

Apertures are selected by a lever on the left side of the taking lens. Shutter speeds are adjusted by a ring around the taking lens with the speed scale on the upper right side of the taking lens.

The shutter (which is a between the lens left shutter) is cocked by lifting a lever on the lower right of the taking lens. Once cocked, the shutter is fired by lifting a lever on the bottom left of the taking lens. just below the shutter release is a threaded socket for a standard cable release, and just below the cocking lever is a PC socket for flash. There is no means of selecting a synch speed and no indication of what type of synch it is (slow bulb, fast bulb or electronic). This is where the manual comes in handy!

There is no maker’s name on the shutter so I must rely on an interweb search (I prefer to rely on just the camera before me). Again, Sylvain Halgand helps by telling us that the body of the camera was made by Atoms (Association de Techniciens en Optique et Mécanique Scientifique) who made their own shutters. Stereo Antica tell me that the shutter is an Atos-2 which was made by Atoms. So, in the absence of any concrete evidence, I am going with the idea that this camera has an Atos-2 shutter made by Atoms. The shutter works well (not a given with old cameras) and clearly has separate slow and fast speed escarpments. Shutter speeds are from 1 second to 1/300 seconds plus B.

Lumiere Lumireflex

The only other control on the camera is the film advance knob. This only turns one way but is not limited at all so it is possible to advance the film too far. Frame control is by reading frame numbers off the film’s backing paper through the red window while winding the film . The red window is actually orange and has a blind to prevent light from fogging the film when you are not winding it on.

To load film, it is necessary to open the back. There is a sliding catch at the top of the back. When this is  moved to the left, the back and base come away in one piece. The new roll film goes at the front of the base. It is not fixed in place but held by a spring. The film passes over two chrome rollers and onto the take-up spool at the top. The take-up spool is located by the film advance knob. Pulling the advance knob out allows the simple carriage to hinge out which makes removal of the finished film easier.

Lumiere Lumireflex

When the back is replaced, there is a bar across the base which puts some pressure on the film to keep it taut across the film gate. There is also a nice large pressure plate in the middle of the back to aid with flatness.

There are two viewfinders. One is a direct vision finder. When the top of the camera is opened, there is a small round window in the rear of the hood with a simple lens and a larger square hole in front, also with a simple lens. This gives a very bright and easy to see view but cannot be used to focus the camera. If you have the camera focused on infinity and have no need to change this, this direct vision finder is the easiest to use. This type was often referred to as a sports finder.

The other finder is a reflex finder looking down into the top of the camera and through the top lens by way of a sloping mirror. This has two disadvantages. First, it is relatively dim – and can be hard to see the image clearly in bright light. Secondly, the image is reversed left to right. Moving the camera to the left causes the viewfinder image to move to the left. (and vice versa). This is awkward at first but with practice it becomes second nature. It has the big advantage of being the only way to focus the camera. To aid this, there is a pop-up magnifier in the viewing hood.

The body of the camera is made from Bakelite with pressed steel where strength is required. The front and back of the camera are covered with black leatherette which is peeling on the front of my camera – no big deal as it is easy to stick down again. The viewfinder hood has a textured paint finish.

I intend to use this camera but first I have a couple of light-tightness issues to deal with. Fist, the back does not fit properly. My first impression is that the flange around the back is slightly bent in places. Some gentle persuasion with a pair of pliers will hopefully sort this out. There second issue is that one corner of the bakelite on the left side of the camera has snapped off. I am not sure what to do about this but if all else fails, a piece of duck tape should keep it light tight once the film is in place.


Voigtlander Brillant "TLR" camera

This is Voigtlander’s attempt to cash in on the Rolleiflex design. As well as this cheaper model, they also produced a much more expensive model called the Superba. This camera looks exactly like a TLR (Twin Lens Reflex)  – and it is: it has two lenses and the viewing lens is reflex; it looks via a mirror. The big difference is focussing. Rolleiflex and their cousins focus by moving the front plate (with taking lens and viewing lens) back and forth and the user focusses via a ground glass screen which is missing on this model. Here, focussing is via a helical screw thread on the taking lens.

Voigtlander Brillant, front view

This camera was produced in the early 1950s and the lens serial number dates from between 1947 and 1950 – and is probably from 1950. This camera cost, in 1952, £22/11/6 (old money) or £22.57 in decimal money. The case cost a further £2/17/9 (or £2.89). This was seriously expensive –  the UK average salary in 1950 was £100 per year which is £2.00 per week – the camera cost over ten week’s pay for an average person. For comparison, the average salary in 2016 is nearly £28,000 which would make this camera worth £5,600 today.

This camera is made from Bakelite (an early plastic) which becomes brittle with age. My camera is in very good condition with no visible cracks. The only damage I can see is one of the strap lugs has snapped off.
My usual technique with this blog in describing cameras is to start with the top plate and work my way down. Right at the top is the maker’s name ‘Voigtlander’ in Italic script. Below this in the front panel are two lenses. The top lens is the viewing lens (essentially the viewfinder) – the user looks down on the top of the camera and through this lens via a sloping mirror. There is no focussing screen and this lens is fixed (there was a more expensive version with a focussing screen) – it is essentially a massive brilliant viewfinder.
Below the viewing lens is the shutter assembly with the taking lens. The shutter has the AGC logo telling us that this is a Gauthier shutter – in fact a Prontor II going by the range of shutter speeds.


Gauthier shutter (Prontor II)
As always with older clockwork shutters, it is necessary to cock the shutter before use. There is a lever at the top of the assembly for this purpose – the user pulls the lever down to the right (in use; to the left, in my photo of the shutter) where it stays until the shutter is fired. Just below this cocking lever is the shutter release lever. This release lever pushes down and in. Below this is a threaded socket for a standard cable release.
The shutter has two ranges of speeds operated by different parts of the shutter mechanism. The fast speeds – 1/25, 1/50, 11/100 and 1/175 seconds – are working well on my camera and seem to be close to the marked speed (test film will tell for sure). The slow speeds are usually hesitant or non-functional on old shutters. These are 1 second, 1/2, 1/5, and 1/10 seconds. These do not work  on this camera without the user forcing the cocking lever back to its normal position. In addition to the fast and slow shutter speeds, there are two more. B keeps the shutter open while the user keeps the release lever depressed (or more likely in practice, keeps the cable release depressed). T will open the shutter when the shutter release is pressed and the shutter will stay open until the shutter release is pressed a second time. B and T work well on this camera.
The taking lens is a Voigtlander Vaskar. This is Voigtlander’s cheap triplet (a Crooke’s triplet design as far as I can tell). Triplets usually perform very well if stopped down to f/8 – the test film will show for sure how well this lens performs. The focal length is 75 mm which is ‘normal’ for TLR cameras. The negative is square – nominally 6 cm per side. ‘Normal’ is the diagonal of the negative. Pythagorus gives us a diagonal of √(36+36) =  √72 = 8.5 cm so this lens is very slightly wide angle. Maximum aperture is f/4.5 (very respectable for a cheap camera in 1950) and the minimum aperture is f/16. The aperture is set by a lever on the shutter assembly on the photographer’s left. At the base of the shutter assembly is the delay action lever. As with the slow shutter speeds, these rarely work well on old cameras and the standard advice is to never try them.

Below the shutter assembly is the camera’s model name – Brillant (not Brilliant!).

The left side of the camera has a hinged door with space inside for two filters/close up lenses. My camera has one yellow filter in place – these are a push fit on the taking lens.


Left side showing the filter compartment

The right side of the camera has various controls. The most obvious is the film winder at the top. This winds the film on between shots. he lever to the right of that releases the frame counting mechanism while winding to the first frame.The lever in the middle sets the frame counter to 1 which is displayed in the small window. Detailed instructions on how these knobs and levers work can be seen in the instruction ‘book’ on my Google Drive (one small sheet of folded paper ).


Right side showing controls

On the back there is the ubiquitous red window that medium format cameras usually have. This is covered by an internal blind to prevent the film being fogged while not in use. This is opened by a knurled ring below and to the right of the red window.  The blind has a large white cross on it to make it clear that the blind is in place. This red window is only used to position the first frame. Thereafter, the internal mechanism will move the film the right amount.
Brillant back with red window
The bottom of the camera has a 1/4 inch Whitworth tripod socket. This sits slightly proud of the  base, presumably to give enough plastic for strength. On the front edge of the base are two raised spots. Together with the raised tripod socket, these provide a stable base for the camera to sit on for long exposures or self-portraits.


Base of the camera with tripod socket and place of manufacture
The top of the camera has the viewfinder. In this style of camera, you look down into the viewfinder to compose the picture. In storage, the viewfinder folds down out of the way (see top two pictures above). To open, you lift the rear of the top piece – the other three pieces then  rise under spring power.


There is no focussing screen as there would be with a Rolleiflex (because the viewfinder is not used for focussing) – rather, you look through a large square lens via an angled mirror and through the top lens in the front. This is, basically, a giant brilliant finder. The image is very clear and bright but significantly smaller than the negative size. The image is the right way up but reversed left to right. This takes a bit of getting used to but soon becomes second nature. On the left side of the viewfinder panels is a depth of field table (referred to on the camera as a depth of focus table).

looking down the viewfinder
The front panel of the viewfinder has a fold-down section. This is to allow the camera to be used as an direct vision eye level finder. These were referred to as ‘sport’ finders as the direct view is not reversed left to right, making following motion much easier. this fold-down section is used in conjunction with a punch hole in the read panel.
The back of the camera is opened by pressing together two chrome buttons on the top of the back. The back then hinges down in one piece with the base. The new film goes in a recess in the base, held in place by a leaf spring.
inside the camera


The roll of film is a fairly snug fit in here. The film backing paper is pulled over a small roller, across the film gate, across a second small roller and into the take-up spool. On the right hand edge of the film gate is a recessed toothed wheel. This is rotated by the film moving over it and serves to measure how much film has been advanced between shots – the red window only being used for the first frame.
Film recess in the base

The take-up spool fits into a hinged carriage to make fitting easier.

raised carriage for the take-up spool



Zeiss Ikon Ikoflex

Zeiss Ikon IkoflexZeiss Ikon IkoflexZeiss Ikon Ikoflexes are close copies of Rolleiflexes.  For some reason, they do not have the good reputation of the Rolleiflexes even though they use the same lenses and shutters – both, incidentally, made by Zeiss subsidiaries.
 My specimen is an Ikoflex II and has a lens serial number that dates from mid 1936 and a shutter serial number that dates from late 1936.  The camera has a focussing lever rather than knob – this was changed to a knob in 1937.  Together, this suggest a date for my camera of late 1936 to early 1937.   My specimen has a serial number of B17187 – this is found on the base just under the tripod thread.  I am told by the Zeiss Ikon Collectors group that the B serial numbers date from 1936 so I am confident that this camera body was made in 1936 although it is possible that the body, lens and shutter were put together in 1937.
The 1937 Photographic Almanac has a description of this camera and suggests that my camera – Carl Zeiss Tessar lens and Compur Rapid shutter – cost £20-10-0 and a cheaper version – Carl Zeiss Triotar lens and normal Compur shutter – cost £14-15-0. Both versions required quite a good salary to being able to afford one.
The picture lens in my camera is a Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar f3.5, 7.5cm focal length and the focussing lens a Terona Anastigmat also 7.5cm focal length (pre-WWII, Carl Zeiss lenses had their focal length stated in cm and after WWII in mm).  This picture lens is as good as pre-war lenses get and pretty much as good as lenses get altogether.  The shutter is a Compur-Rapid leaf shutter which has speeds down to 1/500 of a second.  That is as fast as we go with a leaf shutter – any faster and you need a focal plane shutter ( I am told by experts that the actual top speed reached by a Compur-Rapid was nearer to 1/300 than the nominal 1/500).  This shutter has neither flash synchronisation nor delayed action.
Focussing takes a bit of getting used to.  You look down onto a ground glass screen and the image is reversed left-to-right.  As you move the camera to refine the composition, the image moves in the opposite way to that of the camera and slight tilting of the camera will put all the verticals out of kilter.  On a more positive note, the viewing screen is large and there is a magnifier to magnify the central portion for critical focussing.  Focussing of the lens is carried out with a lever – this was replaced with a more conventional knob in 1937.  The focussing lever is actually quite easy to use and moves across a distance quadrant which allows you to read off the depth of field at any given aperture.
The aperture control is partially hidden by the focussing lens and the f16 and f22 settings are hard to see.  To offset this, the lens is a very fast lens for the time – f3.5 fully open.  With a range of speed of 1, 1/2, 1/5, 1/10, 1/25, 1/50, 1/100, 1/250 and 1/500 seconds as well as B and T together with apertures from f3.5 to f22, this camera can cope with dull weather and bright sunshine with both slow (ISO 50) and fast (ISO 400) films.  The one big drawback here is if you hold the camera too firmly (i.e. holding the front plate as well as the body) it is not possible to focus as the front plate with both lenses moves to and fro to achieve focus.
This camera is easy to use two handed.  The left hand both focusses and cocks the shutter while the right hand releases the shutter release.  After the picture is taken, the film needs to be wound on before the shutter can be set again.  One draw back here is that the film can easily be wound on too far, there is no ‘stop’ as the film is wound on far enough – something we 35mm photographers take for granted.  As well as the waist-level finder, there is also a direct vision finder.  The centre of the front plate of the waist-level finder can be pushed out of the way, and the picture composed through a small hole in the rear plate.  As this is direct vision, there is no reversing of the image, but it is also not possible to use this finder to focus the image.
Zeiss Ikon Ikoflex
When loading the film, the film passes over a roller that “counts” the film.  When the first number appears in the red window, a small lever on the side resets the film counter to “1” and from then on, you must use the film counter and not the numbers in the red window.  If you forget and use the numbers in the red window, you will get eight negatives only with large gaps between them – the series of numbers used are for 6 x 9 cm negatives.  This camera takes twelve pictures on a roll of 120 film (or BII as Zeiss Ikon call it.) – each negative being 6 cm x 6 cm.
Zeiss Ikon Ikoflex
There in one tripod bush on the base (there would be no point in having two bushes on a square format camera).  It is a standard 1/4 Whitworth bush.  This is unusual in my 1930s Zeiss Ikon cameras which usually have a 3/8 Whitworth bush with a removable 1/4 Whitworth insert.
Really, there is no a lot more to say about this camera.  It is not sophisticated (as later models in the range were) but has a good lens and a good shutter and as a result it takes excellent pictures.  What more do you want from a camera?
The following is an advert from the Wallace Heaton Minitography and Cinematography catalogue from 1939 (this is a slightly updated version of the camera I have described – the focus lever has been replaced with a focus knob but otherwise the same camera):
Ikoflex1939 008
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