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Ross Portable Divided – A Special Twin Lens Reflex

Image of Ross Portable Divided

Lens:

f8, 7 ½”, 6″ x 5″ Rapid Symmetrical, iris diaphragm to f64 with click stops. Serial no. 50527 .

Viewing lens: similar but without iris (unused slot for Waterhouse stops). Serial no. 52147 .

Shutter:

T-P Time shutter, without speed indicator. Serial no. H8238.

Construction:

Black stitched hide covering on wood, black painted interior.

Format:

4″ x 5″ plates held in double dark-slides.

Focusing:

Bellows to 8 feet.

Attributes:

Reflex viewing through second lens. Full-size ground glass focusing screen. Eye-level mirror in hood. The lens retracts to close the door.

Movements:

Cross front.

Serial Number:

670 .

Image of Ross Portable Divided

Lens:

f8, 7 ½”, 6″ x 5″ Rapid Symmetrical, iris diaphragm with external pointer to f64. Serial no. 52234 .

Viewing lens: similar but without iris (unused slot for Waterhouse stops). Serial no. 52243 .

Shutter:

T-P T & I shutter, speeded 1/15 – 1/90. Ross label. Serial no. O8295.

Construction:

De-luxe finish of brown stitched hide covering on mahogany, polished interior, aluminium fittings.

Format:

4″ x 5″ plates held in double dark-slides.

Focusing:

Bellows to 8 feet.

Attributes:

Reflex viewing through second lens. Full-size ground glass focusing screen. Eye-level mirror in hood. The lens retracts to close the door.

Movements:

Rising front.

Serial Number:

915 .

Notes:

Address label on case: Ross & Co. 111 New Bond St. London.

With:

  • 6 double dark-slides (1 – 12), mahogany with aluminium fittings.; Lens cap.
  • Ross focusing magnifier, screw adjustment with locking ring. Two lenses. In box.
  • Extension back. Focusing with combined lens is to c 2′ 4″, with single element focusing is from infinity to 11 feet.
  • Velvet hood for focusing screen with wooden eye piece panel.; Focusing cloth.; Canvas case.

The Portable Divided was one of several twin-lens reflex cameras put on the market in the late 1880s and early 1890s. The concept was not new, there had been models made previously but not in great numbers. At this time hand-held detective cameras were available as were folding bellows cameras, single-lens reflexes were just making an appearance. The Portable Divided appealed to the user who wanted a larger finder that showed exactly what would be in the negative and was quick to use. This was true of the Ross, which was able to be used in the hand; advertisements stressed how, with the neck strap, it could be steadied against the body and used for action shots, the image remaining visible at all times. Advertisements recommended it for yacht photography.

It is fitted with a good lens but has only a small focusing distance and limited movements. The lenses can be racked back past infinity allowing the door to close with the lens and shutter in place. A swing back was available.

These are early models of the Portable Divided with a single door, later an improved folding model with double doors was introduced. The doors of the later model when open became the sides of the camera allowing a more compact design.

The De-luxe model, finished in brown stitched hide and aluminium, dates to c.1897. The improved model, with double doors, was also sold in a de-luxe finish. The extension back with this example is a bellows unit with two side struts. It slots into the normal position for the dark-slide.

References & Notes:

BJA 1892, p. 51.; BJA 1893.; BJA 1897.; BJA 1913, p. 60.; YBP 1893, p. 15A.; BJA 1898, p. 78 (focusing hood).

Illustrations:

Christies Cat. 6/5/05 lot 317. Unusual model with polished mahogany finish.; Christie’s cat. 6/10/83 lot 332. Improved model with pigskin finish, lens no. 59216.

via Ross Portable Divided – Antique and Vintage Cameras.

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