Simon had pointed out the dingy looking repair store a few weeks ago with cobwebs draping its display cases of old cameras and watches ..... mostly russian and old japanese gear. The place was cluttered and messy and an old gentleman by the name of Mr Guan Kee sat by his workspace repairing an antique pocket watch.
His shop is located across from Eastgear at
Block 808 French Road
(read my CS blog later for more info )
I chatted with him for a bit and he was fascinated by the compact Panasonic GF-3 I was field testing .... and as fate would have it, we started chatting about cameras and his store. Mr Guan is 73 years old and on the brink of retiring despite his spritely and lively personality.
I spoke to him about Clubsnap and the trend of a growing number of photographers going back to using film and doing their own prints. This caught him by surprise as he was under the impression that it was ALL digital nowadays and nobody really gave half a hoot about traditional film cameras.
He then spoke of his great love for photography and that he too had gone digital a couple of years back given the lack of accessibility to film nowadays. He spoke lovingly of his 'humble' collection of cameras gathering dust at home and rattled off names and models that I have not heard of before (and I do pride myself in having a fair knowledge of cameras from the 70's till present day) .............. he was speaking of cameras from a MUCH EARLIER era .........
Fascinated, I asked if he could bring a few of these cameras to the shop the next day (today 19 Jul 2011) and that i promised that I would show up
I did...... and he did.....
This thread is dedicated to Mr Guan Kee and the Compass Camera ..... other threads will follow in the coming weeks on his other cameras that he'd brought today and if he gets all excited by interested generated with these few cameras, he'll bring along more to share with me.
This and the accompanying threads later serve to record and honor camera historia and in a way honor the craftsmen before the digital era who produced these mechanical pieces of engineering marvels.
Mr Guan had the complete set in a beautiful leather case which I hear is extremely rare .... there are others in the world who might have the CAMERA but he is one the rare few who has the FULL COMPLETE set
I did a little research online and found that :
- Compass Cameras Limited of London England had commissioned the Compass 35 to be manufactured by none other than fine watch-maker Jaeger LeCoultre & Cie., Sentier, Switzerland in March 1937.
* It is crafted out of aluminium (hefty yet TINY in my hands)
* an f/3.5 35mm fully focusing lens
* shutterspeeds from 4.5 sec. to 1/500 sec., in 22 speed increments
* its range finder
* it has an ADDITIONAL right angle finder
* it has a THIRD viewfinder
* it boasts both panoramic and stereo heads
* it has a built in spirit level
* it has an extinction meter
* it has BUILT IN color filters
* there is ground glass focusing
* lit has a DoF scale
* it came with a beautiful all-metal sling strap
Noel Pemberton-Billing an aircraft builder, designed the Compass starting in 1930 .... the camera was finally patented on 16th May 1936.
The Compass uses 24x36mm negatives on a glass plate. It also uses roll film with an optional roll back for special Compass 6 exposure roll film.
Ilford sold 3types of film and a special adapter was made by a certain Mr Wallace Heaton so that Compass film could be enlarged in a Leitz Valoy enlarger
An ebay check shows this camera last being sold AS A SET wayyyyy back in 2003 for about US$14,000+
The GEMS we find right here in Singapore..........