Film handling for Ansco Memo

Discussion in '35mm Cameras' started by David Nebenzahl, Dec 3, 2009.

  1. I finally scored one of these li'l cuties; my package from the eBay
    seller arrived yesterday. (For those who don't know, this was one of the
    first half-frame 35mm cameras, from 1927; an odd design, with an upright
    wooden box, film advance on the back.) My specimen was pretty cheap
    compared to what some others go for there (surprisingly, into the
    hundreds of $$), so it isn't exactly what one could call pristine or
    anything. Plenty of corrosion around screws and metal parts; shutter not
    working correctly; lenses filthy (and the front element put in backwards
    by some ham-fisted "repair" person). But it's all there, for the most
    part; even has one of the film cassettes.

    Which is what I'm curious about. I'm wondering how film was handled in
    this camera.

    The one cassette I have appears to be complete; it's a small metal box,
    open on both ends, with an opening for the film across it. The metal
    ends snap on to the box. Inside is a brass coil, on both sides of where
    the film goes, connected to the "tongue" that forms the film opening.

    Does anyone know how film was loaded into and out of these cameras? It
    looks as if the film was to be loaded into the cassette directly (in the
    dark, of course), and then unloaded from the other (takeup) cassette
    after exposure.

    The other mystery is how the film gets into the takeup cassette. Since
    there's no actual winding mechanism (the advance lever simply moves two
    teeth down, pulling the film out of the supply cassette), it looks as if
    the film just gets "stuffed" into the takeup side; wonder how that works
    without creasing or buckling the film.

    I'm not sure I'll ever actually shoot with this thing. It's definitely
    not what you'd call a high-quality camera: fixed focus, relatively
    crappy lens (triplet?). On the other hand, it would be damn fun to run a
    roll of film through the thing and see what happens.

    Couple of lynx to pics:
    David Nebenzahl, Dec 3, 2009
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  2. David Nebenzahl

    Peter Irwin Guest

    I've never met an Ansco Memo in person, but I had the impression
    that the cartridge system was the one which evolved into the
    Agfa Karat and later Agfa Rapid systems. The film is drawn from
    one cartridge and pushed into the other. Although the original
    cartridges were rectangular on the outside, they are nice and round
    on the inside and the film will curl around as it is pushed in.

    The later versions of the system use around a half metre of film
    for 12 double frame, or 18 square frame or 24 single frame negatives.
    I believe that the original Memo took 50 single frame shots on a roll
    of something near a metre. I understand that the Karat/Rapid cartridges
    are smaller and not compatible with the old Memo camera.

    I can only suppose that shorter rolls worked better on the push into
    a cylinder method. In any case the Agfa Karat and Agfa Rapid systems
    worked well enough pushing film into the take-up cartridge for them
    to be reasonably popular for many decades.

    Peter Irwin, Dec 4, 2009
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  3. The cartridge I have is rectangular, but as I said there's a brass
    curlicue on each side that guides the film in. (Apparently the later
    cartridges were rounded.)

    I did find a very informative page on the Memo:
    It shows the two cartridges being loaded into the camera, so I suppose
    the user would simply take the exposed cartridge in to be processed. It
    looks as if the film would have been sold with two cartridges, one full
    and one empty.
    David Nebenzahl, Dec 5, 2009
  4. David Nebenzahl

    Peter Irwin Guest

    More likely you get one cartridge with the camera, and every new
    cartridge you buy becomes the take-up cartridge for the next roll.
    Thats how the Rapid system worked.

    Patents for the Memo camera and cartridge system can be seen at:

    Peter Irwin, Dec 5, 2009
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