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Art Deco Cameras

Ensign Pocket Twenty


Ensign Pocket Twenty 1931
Ensign Pocket Twenty
Manufacturer: Houghton-Butcher
Produced: 1931
Classification:Medium Format
Body Type:Folding Bed
Bellows Deployment:Sliding Rail
Film Type:120
Film Width:62mm
Image Size:2¼ x 3¼
No. of Images:8
Lens Type:Meniscus
Focus Type:Variable
Focal Length:100mm
Focal Range:3¼ft - inf.
Aperture Type :Multihole
Apertures :f/16, f/22
Shutter Type:Everset leaf
Shutter Speeds:T, B, I*(1/25s)
Size Open (w x h x d):85 x 155 x 124 mm
Size Closed (w x h x d):85 x 155 x 40 mm
* Measured on this camera

Art Deco Credentials

star star star star
Significant: Pronounced and self evident


Ensign Pocket 20 alternate face
Alternative Face

The Ensign Pocket Twenty is a folding camera for 120 film, taking 6x9cm images. It was made by Houghton Butcher in England under their Ensign brand. The Pocket Twenty is not self-erecting. Open the camera by lifting the table stand and pulling down the bed. Pull the lens post forward to the first click stop. This position is for normal views. You can pull the lens further forward to a second click stop for close-ups.

The camera has a meniscus lens. There were two marked aperture settings - for "ordinary light" and "brilliant light". These work out to be f/16 and f/22 respectively. The everset shutter has a single instantaneous (I) speed, plus B and T settings. It has a brilliant view-finder which can be rotated for landscape or portrait images. Film advance is indicated by a red window and is not coupled to the shutter.

The body is constructed of metal and coated in ripple enamel. There are two types of face plate and some cameras have the red Ensign logo on the body.

How to Use

This camera takes 120 film which is widely available.

The aperture choice is f/16 or f/22 which are labelled 'ordinary light' and 'brilliant light' respectively. The measured speed on this camera was 1/25s. As the shutter speed is only 1/25s, 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.

The table shows how this camera will perform using ISO 100/125 film. It is based on the 'Sunny 16' rule. Modern 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 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 1/25s

Weather ConditionsShadow DetailApertureExposure
with sharp edges
f/22+2 Stops
SunnyDistinctf/22+1 Stops
Slight OvercastSoft around edgesf/22Good
OvercastBarely visiblef/16Good
Heavy OvercastNonef/16-1 Stop
Open Shade
Nonef/16-2 Stops
Not Acceptable