P.I.M 4" x 5" Monorail

As with the Envoy Wide Angle, the PIM (Photographic Instrument Manufacturers) 4" x 5" Monorail camera is not strictly an Ilford camera, as it was not badged with the Ilford name. However, it was marketed by Ilford from 1953 through to at least 1956 (see 1955 Ilford Photographic Materials General Catalogue & the BJPA for 1956). In 1953, the basic camera cost £53.

It was advertised by Sands Hunter in the July 1951 edition of 'Photography' magazine as the 'New P.I.M. Camera' and was still being listed within the Amateur Photographer magazine's Camera Guide supplement for the 8th June 1960 when it was priced at £70.7s (£70.35p) with a 5"x4" plate / film holder and £76.4s (£76.25p) in half plate size (4¾"x6½").

The PIM was a general purpose technical camera for commercial, industrial, medical and scientific use. "Strongly made of aluminium alloy, and the lens panel and the control knobs of Bakelite."

Pictures courtesy of Doug McKee

The square leather bellows allowed a maximum extension of 19ins (48cm).

The front and back carriages could provide every movement necessary for technical photography, moving smoothly on a rigid triangular section monorail. The rise and drop front provided 2¼" of movement; plus there was 30deg horizontal swing, 35deg vertical swing and 2½" of cross front movement. The basic camera weighed 8lb.

The monorail attached to a tripod head by a sliding bracket threaded to take an 'English' tripod screw (being 1/4" Whitworth, 20tpi). The bracket could be locked in any position along the rail.

Front and back carriages moved independently on the rail for focusing and could be locked by a half turn of a locking lever.

Ilford supplied dark-slides for plates or films and also lenses from a choice of Dallmeyer, Ross, T.T.H or Wray, with or without shutters.

The P.I.M Monorail was reviewed in the BJPA of 1954, pages 221-222.
(Marketed by Ilford Ltd., Ilford, London)
"This camera is a good example of the recent trend toward the use of monorail construction in the larger sizes of stand camera for professional use. In this model the monorail is of inverted V section with the rack for back and front panel focusing on its apex. The monorail is made from aluminium alloy with the rack in plated brass. The monorail can be attached to the tripod by a sliding head which may be locked in any desired position along the rail. The head is locked in position by turning either of two small tommy bars, one on either side of the head. If the camera is used on a bench two such heads are used.

The lens panel and the camera back are both mounted on identical carriages consisting of a sliding block which supports a U-shaped bracket. The sliding blocks carry a central pinion which meshes with the rack on the monorail, operated from either side of the camera by a plastic knob on a cross shaft. The two blocks are locked in position along the rail with a tommy bar which operates an eccentric cam which bears on the underside of the monorail. The lens panel unit is supported within the U-shaped bracket and has considerable freedom of movement. A rise and fall of 2¼ins above and below the central position is provided, cross front of 2½ins., side swing of 30° on either side of the vertical axis and swing front of 35° away from the axis. All the movements are indexed for central positioning. The lens panel proper is 3¾ins in diameter and is fitted into the front panel of the camera with a simple bayonet lock.

The carriage supporting the camera back is exactly the same as that which supports the lens panel and has the same freedom of movement. The back is of the standard spring type in which the slide is slipped in behind the focusing screen, and is reversible. The camera is designed to take 5 X 4-in. double dark slides of standard pattern.

The square leather bellows has a maximum extension of 19ins. and a minimum screen to lens panel distance is possible when both of the sliding blocks carrying the lens panel and camera back are on the same side of the tripod block.

With the exception of the lens panel and the control knobs the camera is constructed of aluminium alloy and has a total weight of 8lbs. The price of the basic camera is £53 0s. 0d."


This page last updated: 22nd April 2015