The Pony Premo is an example of a typical amateur folding plate camera, ca 1900. The model D takes photographs on 4x5 inch glass plates. The plates are loaded into a wooden holder. The holder is slid underneath the ground glass focusing/viewing screen and is held in place by two strong leaf springs. On this camera, the ground glass screen is protected against breakage by a hinged wooden cover.
A small reflex viewfinder is mounted on the camera's front panel. A focusing scale is also mounted on the panel. If the subject distance is known or can be estimated, the camera can be focused by setting a pointer to the proper scale graduation. For quick shots, it is not necessary to use the ground glass screen to compose and focus.
The lens is a simple design and relatively slow. The aperture is adjustable from f/16 to f/64. The small maximum aperture helps this simple lens produce decent quality images. The shutter, manufactured by Bausch and Lomb, is named Unicum. It was of reasonable quality for its day and was reasonably priced. It still works very well! Shutter speeds range from 1 to 1/100 second, with time and bulb settings as well. A rubber bulb and hose can be attached to the chrome cylinder seen on the side of the shutter, to operate as a remote release. This feature is called a pneumatic shutter release.
This is a compact camera, easy to carry when closed. It is barely larger than a 4x5 plate holder. The unloaded camera weighs 1 1/2 pounds. Two names for this style of camera are folding and self-casing.
Page created June 14, 2001; updated December 20, 2020