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Art Deco Cameras

Soho Cadet


Soho Cadet
Soho Cadet
Manufacturer: Soho Ltd
Produced: 1930
Classification:Medium Format
Body Type:Folding Bed
Bellows Deployment:Sliding Rail
Construction:Red Bakelite
Film Type:120
Film Width:62mm
Image Size:2¼ x 3¼
No. of Images:8
Lens Type:Meniscus
Focal Length:95mm
Focus Type:Fixed
Focal Range:6ft - inf.
Aperture Type :Fixed
Apertures :f/12
Shutter Type:Single Leaf
Shutter Speeds:T, I*(1/75s)
Size Open (w x h x d):85 x 180 x 118 mm
Size Closed (w x h x d):85 x 180 x 43 mm
* Measured on this camera

Art Deco Credentials

star star
Acceptable: Modest and restricted

Art Deco Base Plate of Soho Cadet
Art Deco Base Plate


The Soho company was formed c1926 by F.W.Pettifer and manufactured a large number of cheap box and folding cameras until c1967. Many of its cameras were distributed via premium schemes or mail order catalogues.

The Soho Cadet is a 120 roll film camera sold by Soho Ltd. in London, c.1930. Construction is of dark red/maroon Bakelite, which if you look closely in the light, has faint tortoiseshell markings in it. The colour was described in advertisements as rosewood. The body is complemented with dark maroon leather bellows. The Bakelite body is embossed with a leather type pattern with geometric lines, boxes and circles. It generally has chromed metal struts and fittings but on this camera there are some brass rivets and the lens bezel is painted gold. The camera has a chrome table stand. It is a strut folder but is not self-erecting. It is erected by pulling on a tab and setting the lens in one of two positions - 'NEAR' or 'FAR'. 'FAR' is for normal operation with depth of field to infinity, 'NEAR is for close-ups. It has a brilliant view-finder that swivels for portrait or landscape. Film advance is indicated by red window and is not coupled to shutter.

The Cadet takes 8 6×9cm pictures on 120 film. It has a fixed-focus meniscus lens in an everset shutter with 'I' for Instant and 'T' for timed. In instant mode, the shutter is tripped alternately up/down for each frame. In timed mode the shutter fires with the shutter lever tripped in either direction. The measured shutter speed on this camera is 1/75 seconds which seems a little fast for this age of camera. Not sure what the design speed was but I will continue to research this.

Other versions includes one with a Vario shutter with faster f6.3 Kershaw Anastigmat lens. The Vario shutter has three speeds from 25th to 100th second plus T and B. The aperture Kershaw Anastigmat lens is adjustable from f6.3 to f32. A screw fitting allows a cable release to be fitted. One version had simple changeable Waterhouse stops and in some cases the focus choices were a bit more accurate that 'NEAR' and 'FAR' having positions for 6, 10 and 100 feet.

How to Use

This camera takes 120 film which is widely available.

The aperture is set at about f/12. The measured speed on this camera was 1/75s. As the shutter speed is only 1/75s, 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 1/75s

Weather ConditionsShadow DetailApertureExposure
with sharp edges
f/12+2 Stops
SunnyDistinctf/12+1 Stops
Slight OvercastSoft around edgesf/12Good
OvercastBarely visiblef/12-1 Stop
Heavy OvercastNonef/12-2 Stops
Not Acceptable
Open Shade
Nonef/12-3 Stops
Not Acceptable