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No. 4 Bull's-Eye (1896 - 1904)

This is a simple and relatively cheap camera for the popular 4 x 5 inch (10 x 12.6 cm) size. It cost $ 12. About 37,000 were made.

The camera is rather large, like a shoe box. The dimensions are 5 x 5 7/8 x 9 1/4 inch (12.6 x 14.7 x 23.2 cm). But around 1900 this was not considered too large. If you wanted to have larger photographs, you had to carry a larger camera. It was as simple as that. Enlarging negatives could be done, but was not the usual way to make prints. Negatives were contact printed, so you got a print that was as large as your negative.

The No. 4 Bull's-Eye was intended for the amateur photographer who wanted to take some nice snaps of special moments. It was not for the 'serious' amateur who wanted to produce pieces of art.


This simple amateur snapshooter did not care to study the technique of photography and prefered not te be bothered with all kinds of knobs and levers. The No. 4 Bull's-Eye was just the right instrument for him or her. It was a point and shoot instrument. You did not have to unfold it and pull a sliding lens panel to the correct position.

The smaller No. 2 Bull's-Eye for 3.5 x 3.5 inch photos was a fixed focus camera, meaning that the photographer did not have to focus it. It took sharp pictures from 8 feet onwards. The larger No. 4 Bull's-Eye camera could not be equiped with a fixed focus lens. So the photographer had to set the correct distance on a scale on a side of the box. Having done that, he or she only had to aim the instrument with the help of one of the little reflex finders and then press the lever close to the front egde to fire the shutter.

The camera had a setting for time exposures and a choice of three apertures. The largest aperture was the standard one for all ordinary shots. The middle stop was for very bright scenes, like at the beach in full sunshine. The smallest stop was for time exposures only. The apertures were not marked with the values, but I have measured them. They are approximately f/12.8 ; f/17.2 and f/34.4. The instantaneous shutter speed is about 1/25 of a second.

Photo taken with a No. 4 Bull's-Eye camera of Little Cutts Farm, somewhere in England.