Antique & Vintage Photographic Equipment

F.O.P. Frena Camera

R. J. Beck Ltd

Name: Frena
Manufacturer: R. J. Beck Ltd
Country of Origin: United Kingdom
Construction: Leather covered wooden box, with rear and bottom panels of cardboard.  See Description for explanation of the mechanism within.
Production Period: 1901 - 1903


Model / Variant: No 10
Plate / Film Size: Cut film (celluloid) 3½ x 2⅝ (40 in a pack) or up to 12 plates in special holders
Lens: Single achromatic lens, f11, F=4¼"
Shutter: Rotary
Movements: None
Dimensions (h x l x w): 16 x 20 x 10.5 cm
Date of this Example: c1902
Serial Number: No obvious serial marking.
  • Common [ ]
  • Uncommon [ ]
  • Hard to Find [x]
  • Scarce [ ]
Inventory Number: 517

<Photographs to be added>


Box camera with carrier for notched celluloid film sheets or glass plates in special holders. "F.O.P." stands for "Film or Plate". The camera was brought out in direct competition with the many falling plate or magazine cameras that were available at the turn of the century. It was priced at 1 Guinea (see scan of 1902 advert below), which was less than half the price of the conventional Frena camera.

The main part of the body is in good order (leather covering over wooden body), but the base and rear are made of cardboard and are worn through use. The base section in particular has been bent near the metal end plate that is used to lock the rear and base panels in place. The metal end plate is marked "FRENA PATENT", with the manufacturers name. The leather handle is missing.

The operation of the camera is rather unusual and not too easy to work out without instructions!

On removing the rear cover of the camera, a metal box is seen. This is the film carrier and contains the normal Frena pin mechanism for holding and releasing the film. The rod actuator on the top of the camera raises a film chamber from inside the lower half of the camera body to hold the exposed sheet of film when it is ejected. The ejection is achieved by rotating the rocking lever on the back of the camera in one direction (this example is missing one of the knurled knobs on this lever), which operates the pins in the film carrier that engage with the notches on the edge of the film. The rod is then lowered again to move the chamber back into the base of the camera, leaving the next film ready for exposure.

Apparently plates are held in special holders that presumably must have then been held within the chamber in the same way as the sheet film. The camera can hold up to 40 sheet films or 12 plates.

The lens and shutter are adjusted by controls on the front of the camera. The outer concentric ring around the central knurled spindle sets the aperture (f11 - f32). The inner collar sets the shutter speed, which is shown in the window on the front of the camera. The shutter is cocked by turning the central knurled spindle and fired by pressing the release button on the front.

Image of advert for Beck F.O.P. Frena The advertisement for the F.O.P. Frena is a scan from the Photographic News for 28 February 1902. (Click on the thumbnail image to open a larger version in a new window).
Image of advert for Beck F.O.P. Frena


These cameras are comparatively hard to find and much less common than the conventional box Frena.