The hand camera, as suggested by its name, is one for easy manipulation when held in the hand, but it requires some amount of practice to keep it quite steady beyond a fraction of a second; the pulsation of the body, breathing, and nervous excitement will cause the camera to jerk, and blurred pictures will result. The manner in which a person stands affects the rigidity of the body; when the feet are close together as if toeing a line, the body in not nearly so firm as when the left foot is slightly advanced and separated from the right, the latter being turned at a slight angle to bring the heel of the left towards the middle of the right. This latter method of standing should be acquired when working with a hand camera, and the camera must be held firmly against the body in such a position that it is possible to easily look into the view-finder. When the subject in hand requires an exposure of greater length than a fraction of a second, the camera must be placed on some sort of support.

The Magazine Hand Camera, illustrated in Fig. 10, shows the general outside appearance, while Fig. 11 gives a sectional illustration of the interior.

The Hand Camera /FirstStepsInPhotography 14

Fig. 10.

The interior is divided into two compartments, separated by a wooden partition, provided with a circular hole before which the lens is fixed. In the smaller or lens chamber are accommodated the lens and its accessories - diaphragm, shutter and focussing fittings. The diaphragm is worked from the outside of the camera by the arm, A; the shutter by the trigger, B, and in this case the focussing arrangement of magnifiers by the arm, C. O is the lens and F the view-finder. Fig. 12 is a front elevation of the camera with the above letters repeated to facilitate connecting the one with the other. A is the diaphragm number plate; B the shutter-release; C the magnifier numbers plate; the lens opening is covered with a cap or other protector for shielding the working parts from dust or injury while the camera is being carried; F F the vertical and horizontal view-finders; D is the milled screw for altering the shutter from instantaneous to time (by turning the arm I, Fig. 28), and E, the shutter speed indicator. The larger chamber is for the accommodation of the plates and the mechanism for changing them. Each plate is carried in a metal sheath, of which there are generally twelve, Fig. 11, G. These sheaths rest upon the stage, H, and against the plate changer, I. When I is pushed, it frees the plate-sheath, and this being free is carried forward by pressure from the spring, J, and falls into the well of the camera. The spring, K, prevents the sheath getting back into the way of the unexposed plates. Each time a plate is changed, the lower part of I rotates the small metal disc, L, upon which figures are engraved to record the number of the plate exposed. This number is seen below the opening, M. The sheaths are put into and taken from the camera through the door, N.

The Hand Camera /FirstStepsInPhotography 15

Fig. 11.

The Hand Camera /FirstStepsInPhotography 16

Fig. 12.

The Hand Camera /FirstStepsInPhotography 17

Fig. 13.

Focussing Appliances

Many of the cheaper hand cameras have what is called a "Fixed" focus, and can only be used upon objects situated at a distance of ten feet and further away. The better ones have supplementary lenses called "Magnifiers," Fig. 13. These work in conjunction with the lens of the camera and make it possible to have the object sharply in focus at 12, 8 and 4 feet. They are mounted in such a manner that they are readily brought into position by moving the arm, C, Fig. 12. Other cameras have a bellows arrangement, Fig. 14, by which the distance between the lens and the plate is varied by means of the milled screw, A; the distance numbers will appear beneath the opening, B.


The arrangement of the subject is done in the view-finders, the fronts of which are seen in Fig. 12, FF. The image of the object passes through the lens to a mirror placed at an angle at the back by which it is reflected upwards and can be distinctly seen. The dotted lines in Fig. 11 F, indicate the direction.

It is always advisable to practically test these finders, to ascertain if the subject-matter they depict coincides with that on the negative. It will be frequently found that the negative will show more than the finder gives. Such a test will be found quite a simple operation. The camera is placed upon a support with the lens pointing towards a wall, upon which two chalk lines have been drawn. The camera should be so arranged that these two lines will be at the sides or top and bottom of the finder; an exposure is then made and the plate developed and fixed; the difference, if any, will then be quickly noticed, and should be allowed for when working the camera upon any other object.

View Finders /FirstStepsInPhotography 18

Fig. 14.

The finder just described is looked into from above, but there are other finders for use when the camera is held at the level of the eye; they consist of a mounted lens, and are looked at through a viewing-piece. It is not actually necessary to use a mechanical finder at all; it can be accomplished by drawing two lines from the corners of the front of the camera to meet at a point at the middle of the back edge. The eye is placed at the point of the back and looks down the cone, the view will lie between the two points at the front.

Successful focussing depends largely upon the power of an individual to estimate the distance between the camera and object to be photographed. This can only be acquired by continual practice. One good plan is to make guesses at the distances of different objects, and then measure to ascertain how far the guesses prove correct; a few experiments of this description will soon give the worker a practical grip on the matter.