The Mignon, a small folding plate camera was manufactured by Heinrich Ernemann A.G. of Dresden, Germany ca 1915-1920. Image size is 4.5 by 6 cm, or 1 5/8 by 2 1/4 inches. This image size is often called Vest Pocket format. Vest Pocket cameras, whether made to use glass plates, flexible sheet film, or roll film all tend to be very compact in comparison to other cameras of the first half of the twentieth century.
This camera has an unusual strut design. When collapsed, the lens panel has no support, being attached only to the thin bellows. The struts are constructed of flat sheets of steel. To open the camera the lens panel is pulled out from the camera casing and snapped into grooves in the tips of the struts. It actually takes a bit of force to snap the lens panel in and out of the struts. When extended, the lens panel is rock solid. There is no play or movement.
Front of Mignon Camera
The Mignon's lens is an Ernemann Doppel-Objektiv Serie A. The iris diaphragm has stops from f /11 to f/25. The self-cocking leaf shutter has speeds of bulb, time, 1/25, 1/50 and 1/100. Focus is not adjustable. The viewfinder, consisting of a sighting post and foldable wire frame, can be used for quick shots. The camera also has a rear ground glass viewing screen for precise composition.
Back of Mignon Camera
This image of the back of the Mignon shows the viewfinder sighting post in its stowed position. The leather panel is the ground glass viewing hood. To take a photograph, the ground glass frame is slid off of the body, and a glass plate holder is slid in its place. The bellows is in excellent condition, although it is apparent that the black color has faded in places. A tripod socket can be seen on the left side, and there is a second socket on the camera bottom.
Opening and Closing the Mignon Camera
This image shows the lens panel stowed in the camera body and the struts extended. To close the Mignon, the lens panel is snapped free of the struts and then laid inside the casing. The lens panel has two protrusions which are used as grips. To open the camera, swing the struts out, grip the lens panel protrusions and snap the panel into the strut grooves. The lower protrusion has a dual purpose. It also serves as a foot for the camera to rest upon when set down in the open position.
Closed Mignon Camera
Closed, the Mignon is a small and neat package. The camera has a metal body with areas covered in a high quality leather. This rich leather covering is typical of Ernemann cameras of all grades. The struts and lens panel are finished in black crackle paint.
Ernemann Klapp and Mignon Camera
For size comparison, here is a photograph of two Ernemann strut folding cameras. On the left is a 10 x 15 cm Klapp, and on the right is the Mignon 4.5 x 6 cm model.
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This page was updated January 23, 2002