1919 Akeley "Pancake" Camera
Serial # 108
 

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This tool is a film tensioner used to take up the film slack in the magazines just before placing the mag in the camera. No one I know who has a collection and certainly no one I know who owns an Akeley has ever seen this tool before. It seems that all the others have been lost in the ensuing eighty five or so years. It might be the only known one in existence.


An early tripod and gyro head that are both quite rare as they are from the very beginning of Akeley manufacturing. The gyro head has two speeds for both pan and tilt. It makes a wonderful whirring noise when in motion. Pressing in the brass buttons with your thumb and giving them a quarter twist counter clockwise causes a gear shift in the head mechanism.



 


This head is smooth and easy to use. It is the first ball leveling head so when the cameraman sets the tripod he can then use the ball to level the camera quickly and easily. It has anti backlash gears so there can never be any sloppy movements when reversing directions in pan or tilt. This was a very progressive forethought and makes Akeley heads jump to the front of the action in their day. Many cameramen stopped using gear heads when the Akeley head came into use.

 

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