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Art Deco Cameras

Ensign E20 Box


Ensign E20 Box
Ensign E20 Box
Manufacturer: Houghton-Butcher
Produced: 1927
Classification:Medium Format
Body Type:Box
Film Type:120
Film Width:62mm
Image Size:2¼ x 3¼ in
or 2¼ x 1⅝
No. of Images:8/16
Lens Type:Meniscus
Focus Type:Fixed
Focal Length:110mm
Focus Range:10ft to inf.
Aperture Type :Fixed
Aperture :f/13
Shutter Type:Rotary
Shutter Speeds:B,I*(1/50 sec)
Size (w x h x d):82 x 105 x 125 mm
* Measured on this camera

Art Deco Credentials

star star
Acceptable: Modest and restricted


Mask Storage Position
16 Exposure Mask
Storage Position

The Ensign E20 Box camera uses rollfilm No.120. The maker's name and model on face of camera: 'Ensign E20'. It can produce two different sizes of exposures - either 8 (2¼ x 3¼ in) exposures or 16 (2¼ x 1⅝ in) by using a mask. The mask is cleverly stored by sliding it into the film carrier, close to the lens, so as not to lose it.

It has two red windows. For 8 exposures use the bottom window only. To get 16 exposures from 120 film fit the mask. The film is advanced until a number appears in the bottom window and an image is taken. Then the film is advanced until the same number appears in the middle window. Then it's back to the bottom window for the next number. It is fitted with two waist level viewfinders. The viewfinders have red guides on them so that the area covered by the smaller frame can be estimated. When the smaller 16 frame mode is used, the portrait viewfinder becomes the landscape viewinder and vice versa.

It has a fixed focus meniscus lens. Shutter has two settings: inst. or time, although the time setting is more like 'bulb'. The film advance is coupled to the shutter release to avoid double exposure. It has a nice leather strap.

It is fairly easy to clean as the front can by carefully prised off with a thin blade which gives access to all the glass.

How to Use

This camera takes 120 film which is easily available.

As the shutter speed is only 1/50s, it is advisable to use a tripod to get clear shake free images. However, holding it against a wall or other solid object would work as well. 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 1/50s

Weather ConditionsShadow DetailApertureExposure
with sharp edges
f/13+2½ Stops
SunnyDistinctf/13+1½ Stops
Slight OvercastSoft around edgesf/13+½ Stop
OvercastBarely visiblef/13-½ Stop
Heavy OvercastNonef/13-1½ Stops
Not Acceptable
Open Shade
Nonef/13-2½ Stops
Not Acceptable