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Cyclope

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The Cyclope is a French 6×9 camera made by Alsaphot and designed by Lucien Dodin.

Concept Edit

The Cyclope has an unusual configuration, with a rigid body and a folded light path, the rays emerging from the lens being reflected by two mirrors before hitting the film. The purpose of this construction is to make a rigid camera with a standard 105mm lens without being too thick. It is supposed to be less fragile than a bellows camera, especially in extreme climatic conditions (an advertisement[1] says that it is "recommended for colonials"). Other advantages boasted in advertisements are that it is always ready to shoot, and that the lens-to-film distance cannot go off.[2]

Two Japanese cameras announced in 1952, the 4.5×6 Tomy and the 6×6 Rich-Ray-6, have a comparable system, maybe influenced by the Cyclope. However the latter's design is more radical: the film runs along the front of the body and the lens is offset to the top, looking like a cyclop's eye, hence the camera's name.

Description Edit

The Cyclope is easily recognized by the position of the lens, centred above the top plate. The body shape is symmetrical, a symmetry only broken by the tubular finder, at the left of the lens. The rest of the top plate is smooth, and there is no accessory shoe. However a 1952 advertisement[3] announces an auxiliary rangefinder specially designed by Alsaphot for the Cyclope, without showing any picture of it.

The mirror compartment protrudes from the back, and the latter does not open. To load the film, the bottom plate is removable together with the film holders, picture frame and pressure plate. The bottom is locked by a key at the center, and supports the tripod screw and the film advance key. Film advance is controlled via a red window, located in front of the body and protected by a sliding cover. Opposite this cover is a plate with the ALSAPHOT logo (an example has been observed[4] where this plate was left unengraved). The name CYCLOPE is engraved in red below the shutter housing, on a metal plate held by four screws, to access the bottom mirror.

The details specific of a given version are discussed below.

Evolution Edit

The Cyclope was announced in 1949 and released in 1950[5]. The early version, or f:4.5 version, priced FF18,000[6] is equipped with a front-cell focusing Saphir 105/4.5 lens by Boyer. The shutter is a Prontor II giving T, B, 175–1 speeds, having a self-timer but no flash synchronization. There is a long lever under the shutter housing, probably the shutter release. The aperture is set by an index on a scale above the shutter. The speed setting is repeated above the shutter too. The shutter plate is black, with Gauthier G.m.b.H. Calmbach and PRONTOR II markings and an AGC logo.

The late version, or f:3.5 version, priced FF30,000[7], has a front-cell focusing Saphir 105/3.5 lens, again by Boyer, said to be specially designed for this camera[8]. The shutter is a Prontor-SV with 1–250, B speeds, having a self-timer and M/X flash synchronization via a PC connector. The shutter release in at about the same place as in the f:4.5 version but its shape has changed. The f:3.5 version is better finished than the earlier one: the chrome plating looks better and less screws are visible. The bottom lock key and film advance key are different too.

1,800 examples were made of the Cyclope f:4.5 and 200 of the f:3.5.[9]

A third version has been observed[10], having a front-cell focusing Topaz 105/4.5 lens by Boyer. The shutter is made by Gitzo: it is engraved GITZO-PARIS on the rim . It gives 200–25, B speeds and is synchronized via a PC connector. The camera seems to be based on the f:3.5 version. It is not known for sure if it is original, maybe the owner of the example observed has the answer.

A fourth version with an Atos shutter has been mentioned.[11]

Notes Edit

  1. Advertisement by the distributor GMG in Mécanique Populaire Photo, 1952.
  2. See the Cyclope advertisement by the distributor Picard in the Alsaphot page at Photoptic.
  3. Alsaphot advertisement in Mécanique Populaire Photo, 1952. See also the Cyclope advertisement by the distributor Picard in the Alsaphot page at Photoptic.
  4. In this wallpaper picture.
  5. Cyclope history in the Fex-Indo website (web archive dated Oct 12, 2004). Vial says 1951. An Alsaphot advertisement pictured in the Alsaphot page at Photoptic mentions April 1950 as a future release date.
  6. Price: advertisement by the distributor GMG in Mécanique Populaire Photo, 1952.
  7. Price: Cyclope history in the Fex-Indo website (web archive dated Oct 12, 2004).
  8. According to the Cyclope history in the Fex-Indo website (web archive dated Oct 12, 2004).
  9. Vial, p. 88, citing Dodin himself.
  10. In this and this wallpaper picture.
  11. Cyclope history in the Fex-Indo website (web archive dated Oct 12, 2004).

Bibliography Edit

Collectors books Edit

  • Vial, Bernard. Histoire des appareils français. Période 1940–1960. Paris: Maeght Éditeur, 1980, re-impressed in 1991. ISBN 2-86941-156-1. P. 88.

Original documentation Edit

  • Mécanique Populaire Photo, a special issue of Mécanique Populaire, supplement to issue n°70. Paris: Les Éditions M.P., 1952. Contains an Alsaflex advertisement and an advertisement by the distributor GMG, listing the Cyclope.

Links Edit

In English:

In French:

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