Ansco Memo II Automatic Vintage Camera
Ansco Memo II Automatic Specifications
|Manufacturer:||Ricoh Company, Ltd. for|
|Ansco / General Aniline & Film|
|Country of Origin:||USA|
|Format:||135 Film (half-frame)|
|Dimensions (cm):||9 x 7.1 x 3.8|
Ansco Memo II Automatic Review
The Ansco Memo II Automatic is a 35mm half-frame camera introduced in 1967 by Ansco. The Memo II Automatic and the Ansco Memo Automatic from 1963 are actually the same exact camera, just re-released to reflect the name change from Ansco to General Aniline & Film (GAF). In turn, both cameras are rebadged versions of the Ricoh Auto Half and were manufactured by Ricoh for sale by Ansco. The Memo Automatic from 1963 is not to be confused with the original Ansco Memo, a 35mm half-frame box camera from 1927.
Surrounded by a selenium meter, the Memo II uses a Memar 25mm f/2.8 lens connected to an automatically controlled shutter that has two speeds: 1/30 seconds for flash photography (with external flash unit) and 1/125 seconds for automatic exposure. The lens has three focus zones: F (far), N (near), and C (close) which are set by rotating the metal ring around the lens. By default, the aperture is electronically controlled but can also be manually set via the multifunctional dial on the top plate opposite the cold shoe. Film speed (in ASA) can also be set by the same set of dials which are labeled as the “Exposure Control Center” in the camera’s user manual.
As for the other features and controls, there are two knobs on the bottom. The larger one is for winding the clockwork mechanism that advances the shutter and the smaller one next to the frame counter is for rewinding the film after it’s finished. On the user’s right side of the camera is the lockable latch for the film door and a camera strap eyelet. On the left side of the camera is a flash sync socket and a tripod socket. The silver ingot-shaped shutter button is mounted on the front plate next to the viewfinder.
I was actually watching eBay auctions for the original Ansco Memo from the 1920s when this Memo II Automatic popped up. I thought it was a pretty neat little camera and nobody else was bidding so I snatched it up for cheap. It’s in very good condition with the only flaw being a stiff focus ring and some marks on the cold shoe. It came in a bespoke leather case that unfortunately stinks of tobacco, indicating that the previous owner was a smoker. This is one of only a few 35mm half-frame shooters in my collection but I’m becoming more and more fascinated with this particular category as the years go by.
Want one for yourself? Find your very own Ansco Memo II Automatic on eBay.
McKeown, James M. and Joan C. McKeown’s Price Guide to Antique and Classic Cameras, 2001-2002. (Grantsburg: Centennial Photo Service, 2001), 53, 567.