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Art Deco Cameras

Coronet Gratispool


Coronet Gratispool
Coronet Gratispool
Manufacturer: Coronet Cameras Limited
Produced: 1950
Classification:Medium Format
Body Type:Box
Film Type:120
Film Width:62mm
Image Size:2¼ x 3¼ in
No. of Images:8
Lens Type:Meniscus
Focal Length:105mm
Focus Type:Variable
Focus Range:4ft to inf.
Aperture Type :Fixed
Aperture :f/14
Shutter Type:Rotary
Shutter Speeds:B, I*(1/40 sec)
Extras:Green Filter
Size (w x h x d):95 x 110 x 130 mm
* Measured on this camera

Art Deco Credentials

Limited: Minor and insubstantial


The Gratispool camera was manufactured by Coronet Ltd. for the Gratispool film company. Gratispool was arguably the first and famous UK photographic film processing company. It dealt directly with the public via mail order. It operated from the early 1930s through to the early 1980s.

The Gratispool is a simple box camera and is identical to the Standard Conway except for the annotation on the octaganol face plate. It was designed to capture 6 x 9 cm exposures on 120 roll film. It's body is constructed from card on a wooden frame with a metal film transport system. It has two brilliant finders for horizontal or vertical photos. The viewfinders are covered with hinged protectors. On the top, it has a ribbed plastic handle. It has no tripod mount.

There is a lever on the front with two positions labelled DIST and NEAR. When the lever is moved, the lens is moved forward and backward to give different focussing distances. 'DIST' covers from 10 ft.(3m) to infinity but 'NEAR' is for subjects between 4ft to 9 ft (1-3 m).

It only has a simple time and instantaneous exposure shutter. A tab on the side is pulled for 'Time' mode.

There is a built-in retractable green colour filter that can be slid into place using another tab on the side. A green filter is mainly used for photographing plants as it helps separate the green foliage from the brightly-coloured flowers and buds.

The film advance is not coupled to the shutter release so double exposure is possible. It has a red window with swinging cover to view frame numbers.

How to Use

This camera takes 120 film which is easily available.

As the shutter speed is only 1/40s, it is advisable to use a tripod to get hold it against a wall or other solid object to keep the camera steady. For quick snapshots, hold it firmly against your body.

If you don't want to bother with an exposure meter, follow the guide shown. It is based on the 'Sunny 16' rule. Film is so forgiving and will produce acceptable results even when overexposed by 2 or 3 stops or underexposed by 1 stop.

The tables assume that the sun is at least 30 degrees above the horizon - that's 10am - 5pm on a summers day (May - August) in the UK.

Remember that the exposure guide in the manual may not be helpful as it is based on the use of old film with a low ISO value.

Using ISO 100/125 film - shutter speed 1/40s

Weather ConditionsShadow DetailApertureExposure
with sharp edges
f/14+3 Stops
SunnyDistinctf/14+2 Stops
Slight OvercastSoft around edgesf/14+1 Stop
OvercastBarely visiblef/14Good
Heavy OvercastNonef/14-1 Stop
Open Shade
Nonef/14-2 Stops
Not Acceptable