Go up a levelIntroduction

To design a small camera most inventors shrunk the film size first. Lumière and CIE of Lyon, France choose a large film format and built the smallest of cameras around it. Their logic is impeccable. Small formats have to be enlarged with the resulting grain, a large format could produce an acceptable print even with a mediocre lens. The slightly larger camera is easier to assemble and less expensive to manufacture.


The Eljy by Lumière, the name derived from the Lumière Brothers (Auguste and Louis), two pioneers of the French cinema from Lyon and the Jougla company of Paris (1911) who joined up to manufacture cameras.

In 1937 the company launched the first French 24x36 mm camera. The basic Nouveau design, with rounded corners, evolved until it was replaced by the Eljy Club in 1951. At 76x50x45 mm the Eljy is smaller than the original German Photavit whilst having a larger negative.

The lens extends on a tube and locks in place. The back is locked and slides down to reveal the paper back 30mm film. The Galileo type finder pops up on hinges. The shutter, located in the lens barrel, makes it possible to have speeds: 1/10, 1/25, 1/50, 1/100 and B. T was added to the type 3 and the fastest shutter extended to 1/125. type 4 changed the fastest aperture to 1/150 and type 5 to 1/200. The Lypar f/3.5 lens has a variable focus of  0.5m to infinity (20 inches on the imperial version).  

The cameras are date coded with the first 1937 cameras having the code letter "G". For each new year, the letter take a step forward 1937 G, 1938 H, 1939 I, 1940 J, 1941 K, etc . In 1940, the camera was sold at a cost of 415 francs. Several French photohistorians have assigned type numbers from 1 to 7, but as new variants turn up these become meaningless.

1937 f/3.5 ($120)

1937 Everset shutter with a choice of T and I but with a full range of aperture and a focusing Lumiere Lypar f/3.5  lens. Black face without chrome edges. Shutter speeds B, 25, 50, 100. No cable release socket and no provision for tripod.

1938 f3.5 ($120)

Black face with chrome edges and openings; otherwise like the 1937 type. Shutter speeds B,25,50,100. No cable release socket. No tripod bush. Lumiere Lypar f3.5/50mm lens marked "Sie G".

1939 f/4.5 ($120)

As the 1938 type but Lumiere Lypar f/4.5 lens. Shutter speeds B,25,50,100. No cable release socket. No tripod bush.

1939-40 Deuxième Bureau

Flat black, an early version of the Super Eljy, entirely covered in flat black enamel for the French Secret Service. Still has large finder window like the 1937-39 types but "Super" features of new shutter to 1/125th and cable release socket.

1938-39 Super f/3.5 ($90)

Called Super Eljy in the advertising and was sold along side the previous model. Chrome body edges. Compur type rim set shutter speeds of T, B, 25, 50, 100, 125. Cable release socket. Tripod bush. Lypar Anastigmat f/3.5-f/16 lens with black rim. Sliding cover for red window. Early versions still have the large finder window; then changed to smaller window still with a black bezel.

1944 f/3.5 1/150th ($90)

 Speed increased to 1/150th and then the shutter is given a separate cocking lever and the finder has a chrome bezel; which is the more common version..

Shutter speeds 10, 25, 50, 100, 150, B, T. Lypar f3.5 lens. Aperture scale to f/20. Focusing to 0.5m. Black or chrome lens rim.

Wollensak Velostigmat f/3.5 lens 25-100, B, T Wollensak Deltax shutter

1945 f/3.5 1/200th ($90)

 Shutter speeds 10, 25, 50, 100, 200, B, T. Coated lens. Aperature scale now reads f/3.5 to f/16. Not synchronized. Later version has new style of lettering and chrome lens rim.

1948-49 f/3.5 synchronized ($90)

"Eljy" and "Lumiere" on side of the lens. Shutter speeds of B, 10, 25, 50, 100, 200, B, T. Synchronized. Coated lens.

1950 (white face $90)

White shutter face with black type. Speeds T, B, 200, 100, 50, 25, 10. f/3.5-16 20" to infinity. Synchronized. Speeds and apertures visible from above.


Club 1951-60 ($150, coloured coverings $300)

Updated in styling and with 24x36mm exposures on special 35mm film.

The Eljy Club was a modernised version of the Super Eljy with a superior lens and shutter. In 82x50x52 mm the camera incorporates a 40mm Lypar f/3.5 lens with a minimum focusing distance of 50 cm, rim set Atos or Atos 2 shutter from 1 to 1/300 second plus B.  The chrome top housing incorporates optical viewfinder and extinction meter. When looked through there are letters of the word "LUMIERE" that light up with a knurled wheel on the top set to the same letter in combination with the French words for sun, cloudy, haze, etc. determine the shutter and aperture to set. The comparable Photavit has a smaller 24x24mm negative. Unfortunately the camera uses paper back 35mm, but different to the Kodak 828 (as used in the Photavit 828 model) film making it harder to user today.

In addition to the normal black covering the early style Eljy Club was available with blue, green, yellow, red, brown or white covering.

Club 1958 ($150, coloured coverings $300)

Like the 1951 type but with exposure counter on winding knob. 40mm Lypar f/3.5 lens

Club 1960 ($150, coloured coverings $300)

  with accessory shoe, but without extinction meter.  Lypar f/3.5 45mm. Lumiere shutter.

Go up a level Last Updated on 31st August 2007