Vintage and Classic Cameras
Houghton, Ensign Focal Plane roll film Reflex. Photograph gallery.

The Ensign could hardly be described as convenient in use. It is markedly larger than all folding 6 X 9 cm format cameras and awkward in use. The user has to peer down a tunnel to view the image, which as far as I can tell is just a little too close for the majority of peoples eyes. The lens can't be stopped down until ready to take the picture as the image is just too dim.... and is mirrored! I believe this example is probably slightly better than original in fact, as the re-silvering of the mirror was done to an exacting standard, and consequently the image is almost certainly brighter than would have been the case in 1925.

What it does allow is the certainty of focus at precisely the point the photographer requires.

Snow on ramshackle fence

Pushing our luck here a little, straight into sun. The cameras' construction makes it exceptionally difficult to keep light tight. Across the top of this picture is the tell tale fogging from light leaking in... this was with the focal plane shutter set to 250th sec at f/11

Snow on country path

A cold day in Bishopstoke


This is the biggest advantage, the absolute ability to get the focus spot on at close range.

Finally, with a 1 dioptre close up supplementary fitted. Demonstrating the total confidence the single lens reflex allows, despite low light and very short depth of field, the ability to pick the exact point of focus is absolute.

Woolensak Shutter from Bolsey B
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