RE: [woodandbrass] Bilcliff Camera - Long Focus?
Okay … I have to admit, that’s a cool camera – a double wing/strut design.
Maybe the way to answer your question is to date the design. Doing that might help understand which Billcliff … no?
In summary, I see a geared ‘long focus’ build pattern: the front and back standards can both be moved independently on a very, very long bed (or rails). I’ve always suspected that this design first showed up in the mid-1890s.
I cannot speak to European apparatus, but the first American ‘long focus’ camera was advertised in 1896 by ROC as the “Long Focus Premo” (followed by the Rev Back Premo in 1897). Interestingly, these were self-casing designs as opposed to field views. Manhattan Optical and a couple other builders also created long focus self-casing cameras. The earliest geared American field view I’ve seen would be Anthony’s Clifton (1898) then followed by the “Clifton Long Focus” in 1901. Now we’re getting into field view cameras.
In summary, it looks like only a hand full of cameras (field view or self-casing) had a true ‘long focus’ design. ROC advertised its Long Focus as having a long bellows for tele, copying, enlarging, and other purposes. That gives us an idea why the design was produced for the public.
Maybe Billcliff pre-dated ROC with the first ‘long focus’ build pattern? This would be very interesting to research.
For those steeped in design history, you can point out that moveable front/rear standard designs can be traced as early as the 1860s. True, but we’re talking about geared ‘long focus’ designs as seen on this particular Billcliff. None of the early field apparatus I’ve seen had long beds or gears – although I’m willing to be proven wrong!
Ironically, there’s no reason a geared ‘long focus’ build pattern could not have been around before the 1890s. The fundamental wing design with geared standard appeared in the mid-1860s as a tailboard. So it’s interesting to wonder why a builder simply didn’t create something with geared front and rear standards. The again, ‘long focus’ cameras were specialized and maybe there wasn’t a need until the 1890s … I don’t really know, but probably worth a bit of research to find a Billcliff reference for what looks like what I would classify as a ‘long focus’ camera.
As such, at least for now, maybe run with the assumption that the Billcliff is a 1890s(ish) camera?
At least that’s my thinking to get the conversation going.
From: email@example.com [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] On Behalf Of ericevans2000
Sent: Tuesday, November 02, 2010 8:59 AM
Subject: [woodandbrass] Bilcliff Camera - Long Focus?
In my album on here, originally titled "Eric Evans Album", I have posted some photos of a camera I acquired this weekend. It is definitely by Billcliff, as it has the badge "Billcliff, Maker, Manchester". The question is, which Billcliff camera is it?
It answers broadly to a description I have seen of his "Long Focus Camera", but not his "Improved Long Focus Camera". Is it therefore an early version of the Long Focus Camera before he "improved" it? Or is it something else altogether? And if so, what? I have found it easy to get biographical details of Billcliff the man himself, not so easy to find details of his various camera models.Further pictures are available if needed.