The Anatomy of the Reflex

The inner workings of the Reflex were reasonably well documented at the time of its release. Ansco released photos of the camera parts and assemblies to photography magazines, along with details of how the camera was assembled.

The camera itself is relatively simple. An aluminum casting makes up the main part of the body. The casting itself is lightweight.

Four brass guides, two on each side, are pressed and screwed into each side. A steel guide, attached to each side of the lens panel, glides along the V grooves of the brass guides. The bearings are greased, a grease that remains in good condition 70 years after it was applied. A cam follower pin, on both sides, engages with the cam in the focusing knob on both sides. Springs on the right side help with the “return” part of focusing.

Right side of the Ansco Reflex.
Right side of the Ansco Reflex with side panels, focusing knob and several gears of the film counter mechanism removed.
Top view of the aperture tape.
Side view of the aperture tape.

A Wollensak lens and shutter assembly are mounted on the lens panel. A thin metal belt, attached to the focus lever, transmits the aperture value to the window at the top.

The adjustable linkage connecting the Wollensak shutter release to the lever and the flash post.

The shutter release mechanism is a little complicated, one that required fine tuning at the factory. The notorious interlock release, on the side of the camera, could do nothing to remedy a jam in the lens shutter itself. Such a jam would render a camera inoperable, like the example in these photos.

This particular Reflex started life as a type 1. Standoffs on the left and right side of the lens acted as guides for the shutter tape. The standoff on the right was drilled out for the flash connector standoff.

Close up of the flash sync post.

A wire, fed into the shutter, is soldered to the release post. Another wire is screwed to the baseplate of the lens panel, providing a ground for the flash sync.

The ground connection for the flash sync.

The most tell-tale indicator of this retrofit is the machining of the shutter assembly. It’s clear that the opening for the flash sync is not original: it appears to have been ground into the case.

Back of the Wollensak shutter/lens assembly. You can see where a worker ground a hole for the flash sync wires.

Inside the shutter, the sync connections are factory original parts. The Wollensak Rapax was designed with flash sync; apparently it was up to the camera manufacturer to decide if they’d use it.

Close up of the flash sync contacts inside the shutter.

What is clear, however, is how much work went into retrofitting flash sync to existing type 1 cameras. The side panels, along with the overlaying leather covering, had to be removed to gain the access necessary to remove the lens panel from the camera.

Upgrading a type 1 with flash sync requires removing the stamped cover and removing the lens unit from the lens panel. It is a near complete disassembly of the lens mechanism. At $24.50, the cost at the time, owners received quite a good deal.