Jun 19, 2012

New addition: Susse Freres camera

Well, what do you expect after 30 years of collecting early Kodak cameras? I guy might want to try something else, nothing wrong with that. But what can you do? Leica? No, I'm more a wood and brass man. So why not go for the best: daguerreotype cameras. And what is better than the first commercial Daguerreotype camera? So I set my mind on having a Susse Freres camera.

First a bit of history before I go to my newest addition. On 22 June 1839, Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre signed a contract with two manufacturers to produce the first cameras, Alphonse Giroux and the Maison Susse Frères of Paris. The Giroux camera is well known today, but the Susse Freres camera was only known from a Susse Freres ad. This ad dates 10 days before Giroux announced his camera. In 2007 a Susse Freres camera was auctioned at Westlicht of Vienna and sold for € 576,000. This camera was originally owned by Prof. Max Seddig (1877-1963) who was the director of the Institute of Applied Physics in Frankfurt am Main. Seddig gave the camera to his assistant, Günter Haase, as a present. Prof. Günter Haase died on February 20th 2006 at the age of 88 and left the camera to his son, Prof. Wolfgang Haase.

Susse Freres Daguerrean camera that was sold at Westlicht in 2007.
Enough of history. How did I get mine? Imagine a little shed in the shade of trees. An elder tree is hanging over the roof. Inside is a workbench with tools, an old cabinet and shelves with boxes on it. From this little shed came my camera. Admire it in the video below.

How do you like it? But before you get too enthusiastic (or maybe jealous?) let me tell you the whole story. When I decided some weeks ago to keep my photographers studio model, it struck my mind that it would be nice to have a Susse Freres camera in it. I have admired it since I first saw it in 2007. So I set to work to make one. Not full scale but on a 1:6 scale. First I did some research to find the exact dimensions of the original. On a Spanish wiki page I found the sizes, but these seemed not to correspond with the photographs I had. I asked Westlicht and Jo Geier from Westlicht provided the correct dimensions (the Spanish wiki corrected the information). The real Susse Freres camera is 52 x 37.5 x 32 centimeter (LxWxH) so my model had to be 8.7 x 6.2 x 5.3 centimeter. I had a nice piece of wood I could use for the project and I started shaping all the panels and wooden parts. From a sheet of 0.5 mm brass I made the lens tube and other metal parts. The original camera is stained black, so I could not simply paint my scale model. I blackened it with a marker and wiped the ink with turpentine on a cloth. This gave a very good effect. I used a real lens with the proper focal length for the scale model, so there is an image on the ground glass.

I am pleased with the result and I liked making the model. Now of course I have to have a Giroux camera... and the 1826 Niepce camera... and a Fox Talbot mouse trap camera.... I'm afraid I found myself a new hobby.

No comments:

Post a Comment