The unusual Dial camera, made for the Admiralty

This strange camera, manufactured by Houghton Butcher, was made for the British Admiralty. Used conventionally, the viewing lens reflects its image to a magnifier on the top of the body, while focus is adjusted on the Ensar Anastigmat f/4.8 taking lens. The two are not linked, but a lever to the side of the viewfinder makes adjustments for parallax. The shutter is set for a single speed of 1/50 second and released by a plunger on the side of the body. Film advance is by a knob, or by pulling down on a long cord wound round a sprung pulley that surrounds the knob.


The camera’s prime use was to photograph instrument dials and scientific instruments, to which it was attached by a bayonet fitting. For this purpose, the lens, which focuses only down to 3.5 feet is adapted with a secondary close-up lens that adjusts focus from 3.25 feet down to 1.75 feet and a ground-glass screen is placed in the film plane for focusing. If the shutter release and film wind becomes inaccessible when used this way, a 16-30 volt DC current applied to terminals on the side connects to a solenoid that fires the shutter. Similarly, the film can be advanced from a distance by pulling the cord. Later versions of the camera were made by the English company Aeronautical and General Instruments Ltd.

1930: Dial Camera Mark III

Read about this camera and other military cameras in my book Cameras At War. Click here for more information