Prestwich Manufacturing Company, Tottenham, London, England          1898 - 1903



This unmarked viewfinder is believed to fit the "Prestwich" Combined Magazine Camera & Printer Model 4, also referred to as the "Prestwich" Patent Kinematograph Camera Model 4 motion picture camera. Like other viewfinders of the time, it was simple in construction having a lens and a ground glass screen that yielded an inverted image. As technology progressed, incorporating the use of prisms would reverse this effect, resulting in an upright image.


Most wooden viewfinders, like those found on the Prestwich Model 4, utilized a trapezoidal-shaped mount that slid into a receiving bracket located on the camera's top, side or in some instances a top-mounted external magazine:

This style of mount permitted quick attachment and removal, so it could also be used as a Director's viewfinder.  Several versions of this viewfinder style have been seen on surviving examples of the Prestwich Model 4. Like this example, some are constructed with glued panels, some held together with counter-sunk screws, some equipped with a fold-up rear shade, some with lenses having a flanged base and some with black metal finishes rather than lacquered brass. This viewfinder is also constructed with a sliding wooden panel to access the interior ground glass screen for cleaning or replacement. This same access panel can be seen on some of the viewfinder-equipped Prestwich Model 4's that survive. The viewfinder also appears dimensionally correct for the camera, measuring approximately 6" in length (including lens) x 2-1/8" x 1-3/4":




Wooden viewfinders of this style were also found on cameras by Gaumont, Ernemann and the Chronik Brothers of New York. These cameras were all pre-1915, and by that point, most viewfinders were now being constructed of brass or other metals. Wooden viewfinders of this style were also offered for the Prestwich Model 5, but the few examples seen are about 1/3 shorter in length and have no access door. Having a folding shade which compensated for the shorter length, the ground glass focusing screen was now located closer to the rear opening. Being secured by a brass tension strip, this eliminated the need for an access panel midway in the body. These Prestwich Model 5 viewfinders also displayed a mount similar to those found on the Pathe Professional, Pathe's viewfinders being constructed of brass with a slightly different take on the sliding mount:





         Pathe Professional 35mm viewfinder mount                                            Pathe Professional 35mm viewfinder  


                            Pathe Professional



Among the earliest of 35mm motion picture cameras, the Prestwich Model 4 was manufactured by John Alfred Prestwich, Prestwich Manufacturing Company, Tottenham, London, England, from about 1898-1903 by some accounts. As stated in some of their advertisements, nine models of cameras and projectors were offered for film widths of 1/2" (12mm), 1-3/8" (35mm) and 2-3/8" (60mm).

An undated Tyler Apparatus Company Price List of Cine Studio Apparatus contains both the Prestwich Patent Kinematograph Camera Model 4 and the Prestwich Patent Kinematograph Camera Model 5. Here's the link to that catalogue:


Viewing both cameras side by side, highlights the style of the earlier Model 4 with its external magazines versus the newer Model 5 with its upright casing and internal magazines. With both the Prestwich Models 4 and 5 appearing side by side in the Tyler Apparatus price list, and that the Prestwich Model 5 is believed to have been introduced by 1908, suggests that the Prestwich Model 4 may have been available for a number of years beyond 1903 or that the Prestwich Model 5 was introduced earlier than 1908.


Grace's Guide to British Industrial History, states that the Tyler Apparatus Company was established in 1912 as a subsidiary of Walter Tyler, Ltd. The company had been in existence at least a year earlier, as reflected in the ad featured on their website dated January 12, 1911:


The Kineto, Ltd. Price List, 1911-1912, Kineto Projectors and Catalogue of Kinematograph Accessories, contains an ad for the Prestwich Model 5. The Prestwich Model 4 isn't shown, presumably having been discontinued:


Here's a link to Michael Rogge's great cinematic website, showing a Prestwich Patent Kinematograph Camera Model 4 with this style viewfinder which appears to have an access panel at top:


A reference found in Photo-Era, The Journal of American Photography, May, 1915, stated the "Prestwich Kine Kamera Model 4 and Model 5" were exhibited by the Motion Picture Apparatus Company, Inc. at the International Exposition of Photographic Arts and Industries, held at the Grand Central Palace, New York City on March 27- April 3, 1915. Although this suggests that the Prestwich Model 4 was still being offered at that time, it may have been in reference to a more contemporary-styled Model 4 similar to the Prestwich Model 5, as the style of the original version with its externally mounted film magazines is more fitting of the 1898-1903 timeframe. The name "Kine Kamera" which is found in later advertisements for the Prestwich Model 5, also seems to suggest something more contemporary than "Kinematograph". By 1908-1910, larger capacity 400-foot cameras such as the Prestwich Model 5 and the Gennert Photo Cines No.4 (which was based on the Prestwich Model 5 movement), were mechanically more advanced with their film magazines now being housed within upright cases:



     1899 ad for the Prestwich Model 4     Source:  The Internet Archive                             Gennert Photo Cines No. 4                                             



Prestwich Model 4's are considered very rare cameras, and components or accessories for them are almost never seen.  


For more information on the Pathe Professional and the Gennert Photo Cines No. 4, look for them under the "Cinematography" section of this website.