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The Ansco Memo

When you want less than 24mm x 36mm.
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melek
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The Ansco Memo

Postby melek » Tue Mar 17, 2015 1:40 pm

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The Ansco Memo is one of the earliest half-frame 35mm cameras. I don't know if it's the first, but I would guess that it's mighty close to the top of the list.

Introduced in the mid-1920s, the body is all wood with brass fittings. There were a couple of lens and shutter combos. My camera has the least expensive lens and shutter – a non-focusing f/6.3 Cinemat set in a three-speed Ilex shutter that also has B and T.

The Ansco Memo uses special cassettes that you can preload with film. You advance the film by pushing down a plunger on the back of the camera, which pushes the film from one cassette into another.

You frame your shots with the small finder that is on top of the camera. With each press of the shutter, the circular frame counter increments by one. The frame counter is the dial that sits above the lens/shutter. You reset the frame counter by turning the small knob that protrudes from the center of the dial.

There is also a small wire handle for carrying, I suppose. I have the original instruction booklet. Oddly enough, I had the instruction booklet about six or seven years before I owned the camera.

My camera had both cassettes when I bought it. You also can use Agfa Rapid cassettes, which are much easier to find today than the original Ansco Memo cassettes. You need to feed an inch or so of film into the empty cassette when you load the camera.

It required a large amount of work to bring it back to usable condition. That wasn't really a huge surprise with an 85+-year-old camera.

I had a bit of difficulty setting infinity focus, because the lens rails are curved. You set infinity focus by loosening a screw on the side of the camera, and the entire lens carrier box slides to and fro. A bit crude, for sure, but it was designed in the 1920s.

How are the photos? Dreamy! The centers are decently sharp, but the edges – even at f/16 – are very soft. I need to shoot a bit more with this and maybe play around with the infinity focus setting again.

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The Ansco Memo loaded with film. The film travels from top to bottom.

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A few photos:
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Last edited by melek on Thu Mar 19, 2015 9:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: You can use Agfa Rapid cassettes.
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Philip
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Re: The Ansco Memo

Postby Philip » Tue Mar 17, 2015 6:15 pm

Oooo. My half-frame GAS is acting up!
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Re: The Ansco Memo

Postby PFMcFarland » Tue Mar 17, 2015 10:44 pm

Leave it as is, Mike, they look beautiful! You know, back then that camera was probably full frame, as that was the image size you got with 35mm movie film. Early 24x36mm cameras were known as "double frame".

PF
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Waiting for the light

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Re: The Ansco Memo

Postby Julio1fer » Wed Mar 18, 2015 9:20 pm

Beautiful. I wonder, that lens is too good to be true. Maybe it was reversed? (leave it as it is anyway!)
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Re: The Ansco Memo

Postby melek » Tue Mar 24, 2015 1:02 pm

I think that you are definitely on to something. I pulled the lens today and reversed the middle element.

I ran some tape across the film rails, and it does seem to be sharper across the image.

I'll get out this weekend and shoot a quickie roll and see what I get.
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Re: The Ansco Memo

Postby Julio1fer » Wed Mar 25, 2015 9:32 pm

I hope to be wrong. The OOF effect was very interesting.
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Re: The Ansco Memo

Postby Bennybee » Fri Mar 27, 2015 9:27 am

What a fascinating camera! That viewfinder on the top looks like those they sell today. Interesting results too : I like those pictures.
My GAS is also acting up... must be an epidemic...
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