And finally we get to a true British camera the Conway Popular. Made from around 1931 it was produced until the 1950’s but despite some innovations this box camera was actually less flexible than the Kodak Brownie No 2. It is however the oldest camera for a quid or less I own
In fairness we aren’t really known as a great camera making nation. There are however a few quirky examples like the Ensign Ful-Vue that have become somewhat iconic but this is a bit more obscure. The Conway series was a line made by Birmingham Camera manufacturer Standard Camera Ltd.
In essence you have a pretty simple box camera. It is nicely presented with a rolled metal body with nice 30’s styling. It is smaller than the Brownie (not suprising since the brownie was a turn of the century design). The film plane is curved at the rear a trick still used on some cheap plastic cameras to improve focus with cheap lens. On a positive there are closeable viewfinder covers that double as shades and a green filter for old B&W. But you get a fixed aperture, no tripod mount nor any flash linkeage. Mines came with a non functioning time selector switch. Others have described this as a timer but I suspect this is for Bulb setting as the conway sychronised manual describes a Bulb setting listed as time (this was pretty much the same camera with flash capabilities and a close up setting).
I’ve no idea of shutter speed or aperture. I’m guess in shutter1/30-1/60 with a f/11 aperture which would match standard film speed of the day 25-50 ISO by modern standards but you’ll get away with modern 100 ISO films in duller days with ease. The camera takes 8 shots at 6×9 cm like most box cameras which isn’t exactly thrifty.
And 8 shots becomes pretty gaulling when you realise you have a pretty soft focus image with notable vignetting at the corners. Again from the sychro manual focus is descibed best from 10 ft to infinity making me suspect focal point is around 5-10 m. For me the older Brownie No 2 is better on focus but this does make soft retro images that might appeal to some.
Nought wrong but no leaps from the No 2. which began life in 1901 and by 1930 cameras were starting to use 6×6 frame for 12 shots on 120 roll like the Ful-Vue
Why Buy ?
- British Made
- Retro images
- Retro styling
Why not ?
- limited controls
- Poor image quality
- Settings Unknown
- 8 shots a roll
What I Paid
- Paid £0.99 with plus postage on eBay
- Came with thin plastic case
- Conway Synchronised Manual on Jonathan Gazeley’s Blog
- Standard Camera Ltd & models at camera-wiki.org