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THE 9.5MM SCRENUS
CINE CAMERA / PROJECTOR


This curio must be quite rare - I have only ever seen the example in my collection 'in the flesh' as they say. The Screnus is British made - originally advertised in 1932 by Gamages (a large London department store) at the equivalent of £1.38! One could hardly expect a lot for that price - in fact what you got was basically a tin can with an external fold-down winding handle. To be fair, it also had a tiny waist-level optical viewfinder and a leather handle on nickel plated swivels, not to mention a tripod bush in the base (really essential for hand turned filming!).

Screnus 9.5mm camera/projector

Thanks to John Lanser from Australia - he actually has an early example with the original name plate - this simple camera/projector was called the "Screnus" - not "Screenus" as I had assumed for some years!! Hopefully my web-site has been corrected now!


Original Screnus name plate - photo by John Lanser of his early, original example

The Screnus really was a combined cine camera and cine projector - but only hand turned. Used as a camera for filming, it accepted the usual Pathé 'P' film charger - with the film running through a brass unrelieved film gate driven by a single claw. By the side of the lens is a little lever with marks for 'take' (filming) and 'project'. The lens just has two fixed 'waterhouse' apertures for filming and projection. - this does make filming exposure rather a hit and miss exercise. I guess if the aperture is around f8 or f5.6 then reasonable results would have been obtained with the then current Pathéscope black and white films exposed in bright sunlight.

For projection a small tube with rear mounted electrical connection is fitted in the centre of the device by means of a small lug at the front and a sprung clip at the rear. This tube contains the condenser lens and at the rear a paxoline and brass MES lamp holder - this just slides out for bulb replacement - a 6.3 volt 0.3 or 0.5 amp is ideal. A short lead plugs into two electrical connections at the rear of the camera (see illustration below) with clips for a 7.5 volt dry battery. (I suppose a suitable transformer could also be used). The 30 foot film (in a Pathé closed cassette) is clipped in the top and the film laced through the gate. I have used a standard film charger take-up dog - no doubt originally something very similar was supplied. To be fair, film movement is very smooth as mentioned in the review lower down this page. Care would have to be taken to clean the gate thoroughly as the whole surface bears on the film. Unscrewing the lens fully reveals a simple up/down shutter (not a barrel type as described in the review below) - this type gives slightly less exposure to the top of the picture - Pathéscope, for their cine caneras, claimed this was intentional to reduce the sky exposure a little!

A label in the lid proclaims "British Patent No. 368444 - Patented throughout the World". Seems the Screnus company failed soon after the camera/projector arrived, so another company bought the parts and continued assembly, minus the patent details and the 'Screnus' name - mine is one of these. They are pretty rare. Trevor Adams from NZ tells us that the sales line was "From Scene to Screen in one Machine" - pity the copy writer didn't design the thing! (the Screnus was mentioned in my article in the Group 9.5 magazine No.89 Spring 1997).

The UK Amateur Cine World magazine for October 1935 has a brief review of this camera - now supplied by The Camera Company of Vauxhall Bridge Road, Victoria, London at a price of two guineas - £2-2sh (or £2.10p these days). The review is reprinted below.

9.5mm Screnus camera/projector with the lid off
- set for projecion with the lamp/condenser lens tube in place; the plug and wire runs to a suitable 7.5 volt dry battery

"The Screnus camera is a combined taking and projecting instrument inside one case, and is sold at the very low price of £2-2sh-0d. As may be expected from such a low price the instrument is of the simplest construction, the case being of metal pressings and the lens with only one setting and with no aperture markings, the change over from the large projection aperture, to the smaller taking aperture being effected by a small knob. As the taking aperture is not specified, the question of correct aperture is rather difficult to solve, but the makers suggest a control of exposure by variation of the speed in turning. The shutter is of the barrel type and, as the low price does not permit of the inclusion of a motor, the instrument is hand turned. The gate is of copper. The intermittent claw is a single one but a welcome and unexpected feature is a registration pin to ensure accurate placing of the film. The camera crank is connected directly with the take-up spindle and we found the film ran particularly smoothly past the gate.

For projection a small lamphouse is dropped inside the body of the instrument and this is connected by means of a plug and a lead to a 7.5 volt battery. For projection the instrument will take an ordinary 30 foot length film on either the Pathé or Selo spool. The normal projection distance is 7 feet at which distance the instrument will give a picture about 15 inches wide, but not too well lit. It is possible, however, by unscrewing the lens, to focus down to shorter distances.

Screnus set for projection

The film is connected to the take-up spindle by means of a small clip. The Screnus is an interesting little instrument whixh should serve to introduce many to amateur cinematography. As a Christmas gift to young people it should prove particularly acceptable, for it will enable them to learn much about movie-making in a practical way. It is submitted by the Camera Company of 320 Vauxhall Bridge Road, Victoria, London SW1"

(This 1935 review spells 'Screnus' with one 'e' - I had used two 'e's elsewhere - buit now thanks to Trevor Adams from Australia we know that it was spelt "Screnus" because Trevor actually has an example!! Mention is made of Pathé or Selo spools - I think these were actually the Pathé closed cassettes as shown in my photo - this is how most short 9.5mm films were supplied at that time, both as printed films and for amateur films returned from processing. - gln)

I would be most grateful for any extra details or information!.

©Grahame L. Newnham - 6Feb2015.


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13Jan2016 - Camera/projector name corected to "Screnus" thanks to John Lanser from Australia
Created 06Feb2015 .......... Last updated: 13 January 2016 ............ 95gearscreenus.htm ............ Grahame Newnham's web pages