Eastman View Camera 33a

Sold in 1936/37 as an affordable view camera, this unit was inherited by the museum from my wife’s Grandfather, who used it for studio portraits.

As with most view cameras, this offers rising front plate along with horizontally and vertically swinging back – more limited movements than might be sought with a product or landscape view camera.

The bellows are in remarkably good condition, as is most of the flat walnut finished woodwork. The 4.5″ lens board is fitted with a 7.5″ (190mm) lens, manufactured by Eastman. Focusing is achieved via twin geared rails that move the lens board back and forwards.

Reflecting its use for portraits, and a desire to save money, the ground class focusing screen has two circles faintly visible representing where a subjects head might be placed. In the case of this sample, the film holder features a sliding panel that exposes one side or the other, allowing for two portraits to be captured on a single sheet of film – and hence two circles to help with composition. In the photograph of the focusing screen used here the back is upside down, and so the circles are at the top of the screen – the inverted image means they should have been at the bottom.

According to a catalog from 1936, this sold for $29 when new and weighs 5.5lbs – that’s about $620 in 2022 inflation adjusted, very good value.