September 2016

The Conservation Department have been preparing several objects relating to the story of Norfolk photographer Olive Edis, in readiness for a forthcoming exhibition. Amongst the fascinating photographs which will be on display, will be a few of the photographer’s personal cameras.


This camera is a full frame plate camera manufactured by the London and Paris Optic and Clock Company in the 1890’s, named ‘The Countess’, and it exposes one image at a time onto a 10’ x 8’ glass plate negative.

The camera is constructed almost entirely from mahogany, brass and leather, and is almost certainly hand made.

The lens and shutter were not included with the camera, they would be chosen by the photographer to suit needs.

Unlike modern digital cameras there is no automation to the picture taking process at all, although it does feature perspective shift adjustment, which means that the axis of the lens can be moved to compensate for the distorted perspective being viewed.

For example, a tall building that would normally appear to taper towards the top can be ‘straightened’ on the image to be taken.


Olive Edis with another camera, similar to the example being displayed in the exhibition.

After careful assessment, cleaning and any necessary repair on the individual components of the camera, it will be ready to display, first in Norwich Castle Museum, and then permanently at Cromer Museum.

It has certainly been a privilege, to have handled the same camera as one of Norfolk’s most celebrated photographers.

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Find out more about Olive Edis from the official project blog

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