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Art Deco Cameras

Soho Pilot


Soho Pilot
Soho Pilot
Manufacturer: Soho
Produced: 1933
Classification:Medium Format
Body Type:Folding Bed
Bellows Deployment:Sliding Rail
Film Type:120
Film Width:62mm
ImageSize:2¼ x 3¼ in
No. of Images:8
Lens Type:Doublet
Focus Type:Fixed
Focal Length:110mm
Focal Range:6ft - inf.
Aperture Type:Fixed
Shutter Type :Rotary
Shutter Speeds:B, I*(1/50 sec)
Size Open (w x h x d):100 x 180 x 117 mm
Size Closed (w x h x d):100 x 180 x 42 mm
* Measured on this camera

Art Deco Credentials

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Iconic: Famous, well-known and celebrated


The Soho Pilot Camera was manufactured by the Kershaw Manufacturing Co. and was sold through Soho Ltd. It was capable of capturing eight2¼ x 3¼ inch (6x9 cm) sized images on standard 120 film. It was constructed of black Bakelite with black bellows. It was designed with art deco styling including a octagonal face and a basket weave pattern impressed on the body. The most charming aspect of this camera is the sunburst motif on the rear, surrounding the red window.

Sunburst Motif

To open the camera, a catch is release and the folding bed is lowered, and the lens standard pulled forward to latch on a spring at the front of the bed. Brilliant view-finder, swivels for portrait or landscape. Film advance indicated by red window, not coupled to shutter. The Pilot was available with either a meniscus lens, at 15/-, or a doublet, at 20/-. The camera shown above has the doublet lens.

How to Use

This camera takes 120 film which is easily available. It supports Timed mode and Instant with a speed of about 1/50 sec. It has a single aperture settings of f/16. With a shutter speed of only 1/50 sec, make sure you brace the camera against your body or something solid and press the shutter smoothly to avoid camera shake.

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 over-exposed by 2 or 3 stops or under-exposed by 1 stop.

The table shown assumes the shutter speed is about 1/50s.

The table also assumes 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.

So, on a nice sunny day, it's simplicity itself. Just load film and snap away.

Using ISO 100/125 film - shutter speed 1/50s

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

Photographs taken with this Camera

Ilford FP4+ film, developed in D76 1+1.

Notice the light leak. Bellows not glued down properly. I've fixed it now.

Electricity Pylon, Taff Trail, Cardiff
Electricity Pylon, Taff Trail, Cardiff
Sluice, Radyr Weir, Cardiff, Wales
Sluice, Radyr Weir, Cardiff, Wales
Lady Chapel, Llandaff, Wales
Lady Chapel, Llandaff, Wales
Forest Farm, Cardiff, Wales
Forest Farm, Cardiff, Wales