Antique & Vintage Photographic Equipment

Challenge De Luxe Camera

J. Lizars

Name: Challenge De Luxe
Manufacturer: J. Lizars
Country of Origin: United Kingdom
Construction: Drop-bed hand and stand camera made of mahogany body with brass fittings (no leather covering), with finger joints on main body.
Production Period: 1903 - 1911


Plate / Film Size: ½ plate
Lens: T.T & H lens F=7.2" f8? (Serial 15313)
Shutter: Bausch & Lomb Opt. Co. Automat 1 - 1/100, B, T (marked "Challenge ")
Movements: Rise and cross front, tilting front
Dimensions (w x h x l):  
Date of this Example:  
Serial Number: "J P" inscribed into underside of viewfinder; label beneath camera. "8" stamped into inner face of back, but this is likely to be an assembly number.
  • Common [ ]
  • Uncommon [x]
  • Hard to Find [ ]
  • Scarce [ ]
Inventory Number: 533

<Photographs to be added>


The Lizars Challenge De Luxe hand and stand camera in ½ plate size was Lizar's competition to the Sanderson camera and consequently it has a wide range of movements on the lens standard, allowing various degrees of tilt and also allows the lens to be extended further forward. This is achieved through a set of four arms that can be released. The top incorporates a flap to allow for extreme movement without interfering with the bellows and the baseboard can be locked in several positions to support wide angle lenses.

Mahogany body with finger joints on the main body. The bottom left hand edge (viewed from the front) is damaged - the fingers are separating. On the same side, the upper edge of the recess for the (missing) focussing knob has also broken off - a frequent fault with these cameras (and therefore suggesting a design flaw). The remainder of the body has a few marks, scratches and bumps, most noticeably around the twin tripod bushes on the base. The brasswork is sound, but some wear marks and small areas where the lacquer has been lost.

Unusual B & L Automat shutter, which still operates although a little erratically. It is unclear whether there may be a bar missing across the top between the two cylinders, as shown in other pictures of this shutter type. The disk on the top is marked "Challenge".

Dark maroon tapered double extension chamfered bellows, in reasonable order, but likely to be pin-holed at the lower corners. Unfortunately the focussing mechanism is damaged as the thumbwheel has broken off at some time in the past.

Camera came with one mahogany DDS. The ground glass screen is missing.

The camera carries an address label on the underside for "A. J. G Bodie, Photographer, 40 High Street, Bamff". According to the seller the camera may have belonged to Albert James Bodie who was a well known local Photographer in Banff. The seller bought his shop from his sons and may have bought the camera at the same time or although he may have bought it at an Auction in Keith where the photographer's sons sent a lot of the contents of the house and shop.

Research on Google also suggests that Alfred was the grandson of Walford Bodie, a famous music hall act at the turn of the 20th century, who also had a house in the town.

The Challenge nameplate carries the London address so must pre-date 1911 (see Channing & Dunn [2]).


When purchasing a Lizars hand and stand camera be sure to check the cut out into which the focussing wheel fits when closed as it is a common fault that the top edge breaks away.

This camera is often advertised as a tropical model. The tropical version is made of teak, not mahogany, and is usually (though not always) brass bound.