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Anscoflex II Camera

Toronto. In the 1950s the marketeers at the camera companies struggled to make their products stand out from the herd. No item was too tiny to be touted as the biggest improvement ever in photography. Some changes where indeed useful, others not so much.

The advertising vehicles of choice were national and international magazines that would spread the word to all, especially those not yet committed to photography. On April 30, 1956, Ansco bought a four page spread in LIFE magazine to show just how important the company was to photography.

Ansco touted three major improvements for the year:
1 Panchromatic film (or as they called it ‘Ansco All-Weather Pan’)
2. Anscoflex II camera with built-in close-up lens and cloud (yellow) filter.
3. Anscochrome film for colour 3x faster than traditional films.

Panchromatic B&W film was relatively new. Sensitive to reds, it gave a more realistic colour rendering in grey scale. While not mentioned, the big deal was pan film at ortho film prices. We never learn from this ad if the cost was dropped (unlikely) or not.

The Anscoflex II was a box camera with a very large viewer and a built-in “close-up lens” for things at 1 metre from the camera (hardly close-up), and a built-in yellow filter so skies could be darkened leaving the clouds to shades of white to light grey.

And Anscochrome was touted as 3x faster than ‘traditional’ film. Kodachrome as the traditional film was around ASA 10 while Anscochrome was ASA 32. I used both and Anscochrome was a stop or two faster than Kodachrome, but more importantly, it was slightly lower contrast, emphasized greens rather than reds, and could be processed at home as it used much larger dye molecules than factory-processed Kodachrome making the development process much simpler. The fussy Kodachrome process demanded much tighter control of time and temperature and used many more steps.

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