DEVRY STANDARD-AUTOMATIC 35MM MOVIE CAMERA
DeVry Corporation, later Q.R.S - DeVry Corporation, Chicago, Illinois 1926 - 1931
Also known as the DeVry "A", the DeVry Standard-Automatic 35mm Movie Camera was aimed at newsreel and scientific work per the company's advertisements.
Its "lunch box" moniker was inevitable, given the camera's metallic construction, rectangular shape and its hinged-door with latches. Although DeVry produced 16mm cameras as well, their advertising endeavored to move amateurs towards the 35mm format stating that "at this amazing low price everybody can afford to take professional motion pictures in a professional way." A testimonial from baseball great Ty Cobb appears in a factory brochure for the Standard-Automatic, and reportedly, Buster Keaton used one of these as his personal camera. A Standard-Automatic, Serial No. 1860 marked "B. Keaton Films '26 was previously part of a "Profiles in History" Hollywood auction.
Introduced by late 1926 and priced at $150, this all-metal 100-foot capacity spring-driven camera was also capable of being hand cranked. It was equipped with a top-mounted automatic footage indicator and three view finders: a right angle (or brilliant finder), a folding (or Newton-style) finder and a direct-on-the-film view finder for focusing, close-ups and title work. Two of the camera's selling points were its weight at 9 pounds and its dimensions at 8-1/2" x 6-1/2" x 3-3/4", as opposed to other larger and heavier professional cameras weighing 20 pounds or more. In its spring-driven mode, 55 feet of film could be exposed with just one winding, with 100 feet easily accomplished in under two windings.
This camera's Wollensak f3.5 Cine Velostigmat Lens conveniently stores inside the camera when not in use:
Although the camera's standard lens was an f3.5 50mm, other high-end standard and telephoto lenses were available from Zeiss and Dallmeyer.
The example shown here still retains its direct-on-the-film view finder cap and chain. Although this style of crank handle has been seen on several Automatic-Standards, it's not believed to be original to the camera. Having said that, it functions perfectly well otherwise. Crank handles typically seen in DeVry's advertisements and on most surviving examples, are flat-sided with a stippled aluminum knob.
By 1930, an upscale version of the camera priced at $325 was being offered. Named the DeVry DeLuxe 35mm Movie Camera, it featured an upgraded governor with four speeds along with a sliding two-lens mount permitting use of the now standard Graf f3.5 2-inch lens or a Graf f4.5 6-inch lens. At a retail price of $325, this outfit represented something probably approaching $5,500 in 2020 dollars.
Sales for the Standard-Automatic were no doubt affected by the Great Depression, but evidently they were brisk enough as examples are readily found today. Apparently not so much for the DeVry DeLuxe 35mm Movie Camera, for which I have never encountered a physical example or even seen a photograph of.
The American Annual of Photography, 1931, which featured an advertisement for the DeVry DeLuxe 35mm Movie Camera and the DeLuxe 16mm, was copyrighted in 1930. By the time the annual was printed and issued for 1931, production of both these models had likely ceased by late 1930.
From the American Cinematographer, April, 1928
American Annual of Photography advertisement, 1931