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  Ernemann Company History

Ernemann, the famous manufacturer of plate cameras, movie cameras, and film projectors was founded by (Johann) Heinrich Ernemann (1850-1928). Born on May 28, 1850 in Gernrode, Germany, Mr. Ernemann partnered with Wilhelm Franz Matthias, a local camera shop owner. Together, they formed Dresdner Photographische Apparate-Fabrik Ernemann & Matthias in 1889. They initially made and manufactured professional wooden cameras, with the Globus camera series being one of their first models. Two years later, Mr. Matthias left the firm for unknown reasons, but the company was left in capable hands. The self-taught Mr. Ernemann was, by that time, a photography expert as well as an astute businessman.

The company continued producing only wooden camera parts with others having to being purchased from other suppliers until 1896, when four departments were added to the production area. Three years' later, Mr. Ernemann relocated to Dresden, where he opened the Heinrich Ernemann, Aktiengesellschaft fur Cameraproduktion. He produced and marketed the highest quality equipment and an extended inventory that ranged from basic box to intricate folding cameras. In the late nineteenth century, Dresden was the hub of the German camera industry, and soon fell victim to overproduction. Without missing a beat, Mr. Ernemann's factory became a stock market business until the economy recovered. In 1903, the company designed its first film camera, the Kino Modell I. Within five years, the Kino line had been expanded to include the Normal Kino Model A, a wooden film camera that featured a hand crank. By this time, Mr. Ernemann was joined by his son Alexander, who was named technical director. It became the premier cinematic company of its time, producing studio cameras, process cameras, projectors, and 17.5mm and 35mm equipment. The Impersonator was introduced in 1909, with 15,000 of the sturdy film projectors produced until it was discontinued in 1933.The factory also began making its own lines of SLR (single-lens reflex) cameras and lenses. The 150-employee roster of 1904 ballooned to 1,400 within five years after a merger with the International Camera AG (ICA) conglomerate.

During World War I, Ernemann, like its competitors, began manufacturing products to support the war effort, including "civil vest" pocket cameras and machine gun cameras. In 1917, the company name was changed to Ernemann-Werke AG. Three years later, a separate entity for movie-projector production was formed with steel manufacturer Krupp, called Ernemann-Krupp Kinoapparate. By 1923, Dresden-Streisen became the camera factory headquarters. This is where in 1924 Ludwig Bertele designed the Ernostar 1:2 asymmetric lens for the Er-Nox camera. The following year, the 6x4.5 Er-Nox was replaced by the 6x9 format Ermanox camera. They were characterized by glass lenses with focal-plane shutter speeds of of f/2 or f/1.8. The poor postwar economy led to another merger, this time with Carl Zeiss to form Zeiss Ikon AG. The once popular Ermanox camera was discontinued in 1931 because it could not compete with the superior quality Leica or Zeiss Ikon's newly released Contax. After 77-year-old Heinrich Ernemann died on May 16, 1928, his son Alexander remained with the company, overseeing the cinematography division until he died on October 14, 1956. The Ernemann brand name disappeared in the 1980s; however, Ernemann CinoTec GmbH remains a German producer of projection systems in the twenty-first century.

2015 Antique and Classic Photographic Images (URL:

Encyclopedia of Early Cinema by Richard Abel (New York: Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group), p. 219.

2016 Ernemann (Heinrich Ernemann AG) (URL:

2009 Ernemann Dresden 1892-1926 (URL:

2016 Ernemann, Globus A Model I (URL:

2016 Ernemann Normal Kino [ca. 1908]. (URL:

2007 Film History, Vol. XVIV (New York: Taylor & Francis), p. 345.

2016 Jules Sylvestre’s Camera Inv. 98.1 (URL:

2010 Monday Camera #16: Ermanox (URL:

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