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Surplus Camera Gear

Century Master Studio Camera Restoration

Posted by Surplus Camera Gear on

The Guntersville Museum: Restoring Leon Kennamer’s Century Master Studio Camera

Surplus Camera Gear is happy to be able to assist The Guntersville Museum in their restoration of portrait photographer Leon Kennamer’s Folmer Graflex Century Master Studio Camera by providing reference images of our own late model camera. We look forward to the camera being on display a the museum before long.

Elton Leon Kennamer, American photographer. Master of Photography and Photographic Craftsman, Professional Photographers of America. With United States Navy, 1951-1955. Member Professional Photographers American, Professional Photographers of Mississippi-Alabama (director 1960-1967, president 1967), Southeastern Professional Photographers Association.

Portrait photographer, Leon Kennamer’s Folmer Graflex Century Master Studio Camera front view showing Ilexpo shutter (no lens)
Fig. 1a — Portrait photographer, Leon Kennamer’s Folmer Graflex Century Master Studio Camera front view showing Ilexpo shutter (no lens).

Graflex Century Master Studio Camera front view showing Kodak 8-1/2 Inch f/6.3 Commercial Ektar Lens in No. 3 Ilex Acme Synchro Shutter in recessed lensboard
Fig. 1bGraflex Century Master Studio Camera front view showing Kodak 8-1/2 Inch f/6.3 Commercial Ektar Lens in No. 3 Ilex Acme Synchro Shutter in recessed lensboard.

ILEXPO Pneumatic Shutter
The ILEXPO shutter, manufactured in Rochester, New York by the Ilex Optical Company, was an accessory shutter that could be mounted on many portrait cameras at the time that used a 9x9 inch lensboard, like the Folmer Schwing (later Folmer Graflex) Century Master Studio Camera or the similar Agfa Ansco 8x10 Portrait Camera. Barrel style lenses, like the Wollensak Verito Diffused Focus Portrait Lens, would be mounted on a 6¾ inch board that would fit into the face of the ILEXPO. The shutter was air controlled (pneumatic), had two settings (“Instantaneous” and “Bulb”), and in some models was synchronized for flash photography.

Ilex Optical Co. “Ilexpo” shutter for Graflex Century Master Studio Camera
Fig. 1c — Ilex Optical Co. “Ilexpo” shutter for Graflex Century Master Studio Camera.

Portrait photographer, Leon Kennamer’s Folmer Graflex Century Master Studio Camera side view
Fig. 2a — Folmer Graflex Century Master Studio Camera (side view).

Graflex Century Master Studio Camera side view
Fig. 2b — Late model, battleship gray painted Graflex Century Master Studio Camera (side view).

Portrait photographer, Leon Kennamer’s Folmer Graflex Century Master Studio Camera showing rear standard with ground glass back removed
Fig. 3a — Folmer Graflex Century Master Studio Camera showing rear standard with ground glass back removed.

Graflex Century Master Studio Camera showing rear standard with ground glass back removed
Fig. 3b — Graflex Century Master Studio Camera showing rear standard with ground glass back removed.

Graflex Century Master Studio Camera showing rear standard with ground glass back removed
Fig. 3c — Graflex Century Master Studio Camera rear camera controls labeled.

Rear Camera Controls

1. Back retaining/release clasp

2. Sliding Carriage control lever

3. Mask retaining clip

4. Fine focus knobs

5. Rear tilt control

6. Rear swing control

7. Fine focus lock knob

8. Course bellows extention locks

Portrait photographer, Leon Kennamer’s Folmer Graflex Century Master Studio Camera
Fig. 4a — Folmer Graflex Century Master Studio Camera rear control knobs.

Fine-focus lock knob for Graflex Century Master Studio Camera
Fig. 4b — Fine-focus lock knob for Graflex Century Master Studio Camera

Fine-focus lock knob for Graflex Century Master Studio Camera
Fig. 4c — Fine-focus lock knob for Graflex Century Master Studio Camera (disassembled)

Portrait photographer, Leon Kennamer’s Folmer Graflex Century Master Studio Camera showing rear standard with ground glass
Fig. 5a — Folmer Graflex Century Master Studio Camera showing rear standard with ground glass.

Rear view of Graflex Century Master Studio Camera showing the Sliding Carriage with 5x7 inch ground glass spring back
Fig. 5b — Rear view of Graflex Century Master Studio Camera showing the Sliding Carriage with 5x7 inch ground glass spring back.

4x5 in. ground glass back for Folmer Graflex Century Master Studio Camera
Fig. 6a — 4x5 inch ground glass back for Folmer Graflex Century Master Studio Camera.

5x7 inch ground glass spring back for Graflex Century Master Studio Camera
Fig. 6b — 5x7 inch ground glass spring back for Graflex Century Master Studio Camera

Graflex Century Master Studio Camera showing dark cloth, or focusing cloth, in position on camera back
Fig. 7a — Graflex Century Master Studio Camera showing dark cloth, or focusing cloth, in position on camera back.

Inverted image on the 5x7 inch ground glass focusing screen of a Graflex Century Master Studio Camera
Fig. 7b — Inverted image on the 5x7 inch ground glass focusing screen of a Graflex Century Master Studio Camera.

Ground Glass
In photography, a sheet of ground glass is used for the manual focusing in some still and motion picture cameras. The ground-glass viewer is inserted in the back of the camera, and the lens opened to its widest aperture. This projects the scene on the ground glass upside down. The photographer focuses and composes using this projected image, sometimes with the aid of a magnifying glass (or loupe). In order to see the image better, a dark cloth is used to block out light, whence came the image of the old-time photographer with his head stuck under a large black cloth. A ground glass is also used in the reflex finder of an SLR or TLR camera.

Inserting a 5x7 inch sheet film holder into the spring back of a Graflex Century Master Studio Camera
Fig. 8a — Inserting a 5x7 inch sheet film holder into the spring back.

Graflex Century Master Studio Camera showing a 5x7 inch sheet film holder in position behind the ground glass focusing screen
Fig. 8b — 5x7 inch sheet film holder in position behind the ground glass focusing screen.

  • The Guntersville Museum
  • Leon Kennamer
  • Folmer Graflex
  • Century Master Studio Camera
  • Folmer Schwing
  • ILEPO Shutter
  • Ilex Optical Company
  • Eastman Kodak
  • Commercial Ektar
  • Agfa Ansco
  • Portrait Camera
  • 8x10 Camera
  • 5x7 Camera
  • 4x5 Camera
  • Studio Camera