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Ross Military Cameras

By Charlie Chernoff
Part Four - MK 80
Ross Land Cameras MK 80

The Swedish Army requested a land surveillance camera with several special features that were useful on land. One feature was the ability to attach the camera to a small sized, about 1/3-meter tall tripod that came with the kit. Of course, full sized tripods could also be used.
The other novel feature was a periscope for photographing from behind walls or around obstructions.

Unlike the aerial cameras that provide higher shutter speeds because photos are taken from a fast moving airplane, the shutter in this camera provides slow shutter speeds down to 1/5 second and T and an upper speed of only 1/150 seconds. Slower speeds were needed because the camera was often used with a tripod or propped against a wall for stability in low light situations.

Markspaningskamera MK 80 m/43.
(Roughly translated: "Land" or "Field Surveillance Camera MK 80 m/43").

Shown used with periscope attachment.

Specification details for the Ross Land Camera MK 80

Cast aluminum body with removable access plates on the bottom and left side. 3/8 inch female tripod screw on bottom. Narrow skid plates screwed to bottom to protect finish and square with tripod table.
Medium dark gray color with black wood handles.
Small identifying metallic silver plate on top with ROSS SWEDEN engraved on it. Secured to top with four screws. MK 80 m/43 identification painted on camera top near the front. The serial number is painted on (e.g. Nr XXX) below the identification.

Dimensions and weight
Length including back and 16.5 cm. lens: 28.1 cm.
Width at widest point, which is at magazine: 16 cm.
Height: 12.8 cm.
Camera is a truncated wedge shape, wider towards the rear. This spiffy wedge shaped design reduced overall size and weight and saved on scarce and expensive WWII aluminum.

Weight: camera with 16.5 cm lens and attached back (magazine): 5.7 kg (12.5 pounds).
Wood carrying/storage case: 9.3 kg (20.5 pounds).
Wood carry case, camera with 16.5 cm lens and accessories (lacking tripod): is 17.3 kg (38 pounds).
Case has only a top leather-carrying grip for one-person carry. Not two side handles for two person carry as one would expect. I now have much more respect for the muscularity and endurance of the Swedish WWII military foot soldier.


Film Flattener
Spring loaded pressure plate inside the interchangeable back. Raised out of contact with film during film advances.

Photo Format
7 x 12 cm. (Reported erroneously as 7 x 15 by several others.)
With an aspect ratio of 1.7 this was a moderately panoramic format.
23 exposures available with daylight loading.
38 exposures available with darkroom loading.

80mm wide double perforated roll film.

Film Advance
By hand, one frame at a time.
Film is advanced and shutter cocked by turning the entire right hand hand-holder about 120 degrees clockwise and back to rear rest position.

Power supply

Lens Mount
Three lobed bayonet mount with same dimensions as HK 7 hand camera. Mount is rotated 180 degrees compared to HK 7 camera.
Although the overall design is identical, not all MK 80 lenses will fit all HK 7 cameras, or vice versa; the reason behind this is that lens mounts were hand tuned to fit a particular camera and the protective lens barrel was then engraved with the camera serial number.
The lens catch is internal to the lens mount with release being actuated by a top left mounted push button as compared to the outside pivot release of the HK 7.

Zeiss Jena Tessar 16.5 cm f/4.5, no anti-reflection coating.
Zeiss Tele-Tessar 32 cm f/6.3. Most likely uncoated.
Zeiss Tele-Tessar 60 cm f/8. Most likely uncoated.

Aperture Values
16.5 cm lens: f/4.5, 5.6, 8, 11, 16.
32 cm lens: f/6.3, remainder unknown.
60 cm lens: f/8, remainder unknown.

Focus Control
Fixed focus.

Auxiliary hand held meter, not included with outfit.

Behind-the–lens shutter.
Four leaf shutter with 40 mm throat diameter on camera examined.

Shutter Speeds
T, 1/5, 1/10, 1/25, 1/50, 1/150, second.

Flash Capabilities
Not synchronized for flash.

Frame finder for two focal lengths.
Auxiliary monocular finder (5 x 25) fits atop mounted large accessory shoe and is the recommended finder for the 60 cm lens. There are cross hairs with horizontal and vertical graduations visible when the scene is viewed through the magnifying 5 x 25 finder. This monocular finder probably was supplied only with the 60 cm lens. However, it appears that all cameras had the accessory shoe to accommodate this finder.

Exposure Release
Right index finger pivoted shutter release.
Shutter can also be released with a 52 cm (20 inch) long cable release that is supplied as an accessory.

Accessories included
Two backs serial numbered to camera, one has an “a” following the numerical camera serial number impressed on it the other has a “b”.
Three filters; red, orange and yellow. An infrared filter was supplied with the 60 cm lens only. Adapter that fits lens bayonet with a male thread (85 mm x 1.0 mm pitch) on other end with dull black paint on the inside.
Five black cloth bags one for each filter, flagged with a small colored patch of cloth identifying type, one for the adapter and one for the extra back/magazine.
Leather camera-carrying strap.
Long (52 cm, 20 inch) cable release.
Auxiliary monocular viewfinder (5 x 25) with internal cross hairs and horizontal and vertical graduations.
Carry/storage case with leather carrying handle on hinged lid that stores flat as one end slides outwards under the metal retainer. Two front hasps take up all the strain of a lift and carry. A central, flimsy, wire hasp can be locked with a regular lock (not supplied).
Wood box is 57.5 cm long by 26.4 cm wide by 37.5 cm high. Box weighs 9.3 kg.

Shutter release to dark slide interlock so that shutter cannot be released if dark slide is in the magazine.
Camera is supplied with both a cable release and a short tripod.
A periscope was available so that surveillance photos could be taken without exposing the photographer to the enemy. It has been reported that equipment returning from Finland duty where Russian troops were being observed, had several bullet holes in the upper part of the periscope.

Other Features
Sturdy lens barrel also serves as sun shade and filter holder. Filters are same design and size as HK 7 filters – will interchange.

Production Span
1943 - 1945.

Number Produced
70 if numbering began at 101.

Serial Numbers
Serial numbers most likely start at 101. [Information requested]

A relatively light camera considering the format size, interchangeable magazines with built in pressure plates and a good-sized lens. Seems to be uncommon in the collectible market.
The 16.5 cm lens was used on medium format Primotar cameras while the 32 cm lens was used with medium format Exakta cameras. The 60 cm lens is uncommon but a batch of 80 from 1933 is reported by Thiele.

Copyright 2007, 2008 - Charlie Chernoff. All rights reserved.
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