Ensign Carbine No.5 Technical Description


The name "Carbine" was a generic description of a range of folding cameras from the early part of the century.  The name was used by several different manufacturers including Houghton and Butcher who, as an amalgamated concern were the progenitors of the Ensign company.  Many of the cameras produced by these companies continued to be manufactured by the Ensign company.

During the period 1920 - 1930 Houghton-Butcher manufactured a range of "Carbine" which covered a variety of film formats and specifications.  In general most of the models had completely removable backs which allowed the use of film plate holders, as well as rollfilm.   The subject of this technical description is the Ensign Carbine No.5 from the period 1920 - 1930. 

General Features

The Ensign Carbine No.5 is a folding roll film camera of modest specification and designed for general amateur photography.   

It is a  quality camera, of the extending front type, made to a high standard of workmanship and finish, having a black leather covered pressed metal body and pressed metal baseboard.  The camera front which carries the lens and shutter, is attached to the body by leather folding bellows, and in use, extends from the body on rails mounted on the folding baseboard.  The camera is opened for use by pulling out the baseboard support leg, which also acts as a latch for the camera front.  This action causes the baseboard to fall forward, supported from the body by two quadrant struts, and lock into place. The lens panel can then be moved into place along the rails, by pulling on a bracket at the base of the lens panel until it positively locks onto the spring-loaded focusing scale plate.  The lens panel is returned to its folded position by first pressing on the focusing scale to unlock the lens panel and then pushing on the bracket.  Finally the camera is closed by pushing gently on each side strut which unlocks the baseboard and allows it to fold back to its closed position. 

The camera is designed to take 8 exposures 6 X 9 cm on 120 size film.  It is fitted with an uncoated 4 inch Aldis Uno anastigmat lens of maximum aperture f4.5.  The lens aperture may be set at intermediate stops down to f32 by means of an adjustable iris diaphragm, operated by a sliding quadrant lever below the lens assembly.  The selected aperture is indicated by a pointer on a scale attached to the upper part of the lens assembly.  Focusing, in the range 5 feet to infinity,  is by movement of the lens panel on the mounting rails.   The selected focusing distance is indicated on the focus scale by an index pointer attached to the lens panel.  The focusing scale, as previously mentioned, is incorporated into a spring-loaded assembly which has positive lock points at Infinity, 17, 8, and 5 feet, but the user may if desired use interpolation and set the focus to any point within the range.  A contiguous metre scale is also provided.  

The shutter is proprietary and called a "Mulchro" shutter.  It is a between the lens leaf type with settings of 1, 1/2, 1/5, 1/10, 1/25, 1/50, 1/100s B and T, which are selectable by rotation of a milled ring surrounding the lens panel.  The selected speed is indicated on a scale contiguous with the aperture scale on the top of the lens panel.  Interestingly the shutter speeds are marked as whole numbers and full fractions.  The shutter, which is self tensioning, is released by depressing a lever incorporated into the right side of the lens assembly.  This lever, which has a short travel of about 10mm, may also be operated by a cable release and for this purpose a bracket with a threaded cable holder is mounted adjacent to the lever.  

A reflecting brilliant viewfinder is fitted to the top of the lens panel and it can be swivelled through 90 degrees to accommodate the vertical or horizontal format.   A second viewfinder, of the open wire frame type is also provided.  The front wire frame of the viewfinder is hinged to the lens panel and is neatly stowed surrounding the panel.  In use it is pulled out and up into place.  The rear sighting finder consists of a metal strip containing the viewing aperture and this is pulled up into place from a metal holder affixed to the camera back.

The camera back is completely removable by pressing on two finger grips located on either side of the back.  This action releases spring tensioned keepers which allows the back to be lifted clear of the body.  Film advance is by means of a winder knob located on the camera side and frame number indication is viewed through a red window located in the camera back.  The red window has a cover and this cover incorporates a very simple film register.  When the cover is off the window, an arrow on the cover reminds the user to "Wind".  When this is done and the user recovers the window a second arrow indicates "Expose".  

Tripod bushes are fitted to both one side of the camera and the baseboard.  A folding supporting strut for the baseboard is provided which also serves to operate the baseboard locking latch.  A carrying handle is fitted to one end of the camera.

The manufacturers details are embossed on the camera back.  

The approximate camera dimensions (W x L x D) are: 85 x 160 x 130 (open) 35 (closed) mm and it weighs 675g