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Art Deco Cameras

Ensign Selfix 20 1936


Ensign Selfix 20 j
Ensign Selfix 20 J12826
Manufacturer: Houghton-Butcher
Produced: 1936 - 1937
Classification:Medium Format
Body Type:Folding Bed
Bellows Deployment:Self Erecting
Film Type:120
Film Width:62mm
Image Size:2¼ x 3¼ or
2¼ x 1⅝
No. of Images:8/16
Lens Type:Ensar Anastigmat
Focus Type:Variable
Focal Length:100mm
Focal Range:3¼ft - inf.
Aperture Type :Iris
Apertures :f/4.5 - f/32
Shutter Type:leaf
Shutter Speeds:T, B, I(1/25, 1/50, 1/100)
Size Open (w x h x d):85 x 153 x 124 mm
Size Closed (w x h x d):85 x 153 x 38 mm

Art Deco Credentials

star star star star
Significant: Pronounced and self evident

Ensign Selfix 20
Two red windows


This camera has a metal body. Some versions have zigzag lines on the shutter bezel. It takes 8 (2¼ x 3¼ inch) or 16 (2¼ x 1⅝ inch) exposures. It normally comes with a mask for the film plane to produce the smaller images but these are easily lost and are often missing. Likewise the viewer on the body has a mask that can be swiveled into place to allow the photographer to frame the smaller images. The camera has two red windows. When 16 smaller images are being used, the film is advanced until the image number is seen in the first red window, and for the next frame, the film is advanced until the same image number appears in the second window.

Ensign Selfix 20
Swivelling mask

It uses front cell focussing varying from to 3½ feet to infinity. There is a depth of field chart on the back. It has a brilliant finder that can be rotated for portrait and landscape views. It is self-erecting using a rather attractive chrome strut system. The shutter mechanism is not coupled to the body. There is a threaded bracket to attach a shutter release cable. There are tripod connector holes for both portrait and landscape.

How to Use

Find the manual here. This camera takes 120 film which is readily available. The second red window should be covered in black tape except when advancing the film.

Shutter speeds available are 1/25s, 1/50s and 1/100s.

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.

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

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

If you are not sure about the light level, err on the side of overexposure - i.e. assume the smaller f number.

Where there is a choice, a larger f number will give a larger depth of field.

For the slower speeds, you may need a tripod to stop blur through shake.

Using ISO 100/125 film

Weather ConditionsShadow DetailShutter Speed (s)
with sharp edges
Slight OvercastSoft around edgesf/22f/16f/11
OvercastBarely visiblef/16f/11f/8
Heavy OvercastNonef/11f/8f/5.6
Open Shade