Posted 6 years ago
I have owned this camera for a very long time and, even today, continue to be impressed by its size, immaculate condition and beauty.
In 1897, the Rochester Optical Company announced a major design variation of the traditional folding plate camera. To be able to use long focal length lenses, the back drops down like the front. This permits an extra long bellows draw for telephoto photography, enlarging, and copying.
The expansive polished wood interior, brass trim and maroon bellows makes this one of the most impressive American folding plate cameras. These larger format ‘long focus’ models are uncommon and typically in very poor condition through years of hard professional use.
This particular example appears in catalogues from 1897 to 1900 and shoots nice sized 6½ x 8½ inch (whole-plate) format glass plates. When fully extended, it is 30 inches long. As an advanced amateur / professional camera it wasn’t cheap and advertised for $62.00 in 1897 (equal to about $1,736 in 2014 currency!).
The Reversible Back Premo was also used by the renowned American western photographer Edward Curtis. A picture of Curtis' whole-plate camera can be seen on a webpage maintained by the Smithsonian Institution Library: http://www.sil.si.edu/Exhibitions/curtis/curtis-98-3811.htm