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1958: KI Monobar

The monorail is possibly the simplest type of camera design, consisting of no more than a lens and shutter mounted on a front element, linked by bellows to a film holder on a rear element. Both front and back elements are free to move back and forth for focusing along a rail onto which they are locked into position. Such cameras were mostly made for medium and larger format roll film, cut film or glass plates. But in 1958, Kennedy Instruments, a British manufacturing subsidiary of Ilford Ltd, produced this unusual monorail


Two versions can a be found: the Type U, which has a full range of rise and fall, tilt and swing movements for all type of technical photography; and the Type F, a simplified version without the movements, but suitable for everything from photomicrography to landscape subjects. This one is a Type F.


It has a Dalmeyer 4-inch f/4.5 lens in a Synchro-Compur shutter speeded 1-1/500sec. A small, 24x36mm ground-glass focusing screen at the back end on which the lens focuses its image is covered by a magnifier. When ready, the magnifier and screen are slid backwards along their own rail and a film back pre-loaded with 35mm is slotted into the film plane. A thumbwheel in the film back slides a mask in front of the film to prevent fogging when camera and back are separated, and the back rotates through 90 degrees to shoot horizontal or vertical pictures.


The lens to film distance can be adjusted to anything from 5cm to 27cm. In this way any available focal length of lens can be used to shoot subjects from extreme close-up to infinity.


The KI Monobar, the only monorail camera made for 35mm film

View from the rear with the film back in place and the focusing screen with magnifier behind it.

Separated from the camera, the film back, open and ready for loading with 35mm film.

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