Vintage camera collection – Ensign selfix 20

This camera was made in the UK in the early 1930’s by Ensign & Co, and takes 8 pictures on a roll of 120 film, each picture being approx 6cm x 9cm.


The pictures in this gallery can also be viewed full sized here

My Camera

I picked up this camera from eBay for only a few pounds and bought it because I’d been impressed with the quality of my Selfix 1620 and wanted to see what other cameras made by Ensign would be like.

The Ensign Selfix 20 is a much earlier camera than the 1620 and I think that could account for the somewhat battered condition of my example. Although the bellows appear to be intact, and the lens is mostly clean, there is a serious problem with the alignment of the front lens assembly. When the bellows are fully extended the lens isn’t completely parallel to the film plane which could lead to focus problems. Mind you, the maximum aperture of the lens is f7.7, so it may not actually affect it at all because the depth of focus at the film plane may be deeper than the amount of the distortion.

Ensign 20 Description

The Ensign 20 is a simple camera with very few controls and little adjustment to make. The shutter has only 3 ‘instantaneous’ speeds, 1/100, 1/50 & 1/25 and the aperture has a range of f/7.7 to f/32 which gives an E.V. range of about 17 to 11 – mostly suitable for bright sunlight use. The shutter also has a B and T setting and a built in table stand to allow the longer exposures to be more easily used.

The focus is adjustable and covers about 3 1/2 feet to infinity but there isn’t any rangefinder built in so the user would need to guess the distance. My point about depth of field also applies to the focus however – f/7.7 is a small aperture even for a 6×9 picture and probably most things would be in focus most of the time.

As well as the viewfinder built into the top of the camera housing, there is a small viewfinder attached to the lens assembly which can be turned to suit either landscape or portrait orientation.

To open the camera, the foot of the table stand is pulled up from the lens cover which unlocks it. Pulling on the cover then unfolds the bellows and the camera is ready for use. To collapse the lens there are a couple of levers at the front which are pressed to make the bellows assembly fold in again. Once fully collapsed, the table stand foot locks the lens door.

According to a couple of internet searches, some versions of the Selfix 20 had internal flaps which reduced the size of the negative and allowed 12 pictures of 6cm x 6cm – my camera doesn’t have those but I suspect that it is an example of the cheapest version of the camera and possibly that was a feature of the better models.

Ensign Selfix 20 spec

  • Ensign Selfix 120 roll film camera
  • Made about 1932 ?
  • 8 Pictures of 6cm x 9cm
  • Shutter speeds 1/100, 1/50, 1/25 & B + T
  • Aperture f/7.7, f/11, f/16, f/22 & f/32
  • Cable release built into release lever
  • Self cocking shutter
  • Viewfinder on body and on lens assembly
  • Focus from 31/2 feet to infinity
  • Table top stand
  • Tripod mount on bottom and on lens cover
  • Ser No: J26668

 

 

 

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