D. Shackman & Sons (The sons being Jewish brothers, Mr Rubin and Albert Shackman) were an English instrument manufacturer, who made various special purpose cameras, such as passport cameras taking two or four copies of the same picture, oscilloscope cameras and automated cameras for sequences of pictures - and camera accessories such as interval timers.

As well as making cameras, the main occupation of the company in the 1940's and 1950's was the manufacture of fine jewellery.  During the Second World War they made military optical equipment such as bomb sights. The company had decided after WWII that they would always try to maintain at least one military contract, hence the continued manufacture of the Auto Camera which had military uses.

Of a workforce of 110 in the 1950's only ten were making cameras. Three or four of the Auto Camera workforce were doing final assembly. They could assemble about 2 cameras each per week.  The individual components were manufactured both in a tool room where jewellery was being made and by hand on the bench in the camera department. Final assembly required extensive hand fitting. Film transport was by a 14' clockwork spring wound by an external lever on a ratchet mechanism.  Shutter release could either be manual or remote using an electrical solenoid of either 12V or 24V (many aircraft systems were 24V). The Film used was standard 35MM movie stock. Special Individual cassettes of film would be loaded by the user in a darkroom. The use of movie stock meant that projection was the most practical method of viewing the outcome.

The Auto Cameras were often on special order with small modifications for specific applications such as document copying and recording aircraft instrumentation during test flights.  Some were specifically for naval use. In the 1950's one of the special cameras in development was a high-speed camera to record the action of bombs leaving the bomb-bay of early jets such as the Canberra. When the aircraft was at high speed, e.g. at 400 - 500 mph conventional bomb-bay designs were resulting is bombs 'flying' when released and potentially failing to leave the aircraft.

The company now seems to be called Shackman Instruments Ltd., based in Gerrard's Cross, Buckinghamshire. There are reports (on auction sites) of some of the passport cameras fitting both Polaroid and Fuji instant films.

example cameras[]

  • Auto Camera mark 3 (presumably marks 1 & 2 exist; automatic 250-shot camera for 35mm film c.1953)[1]
  • Shackman Auto 200 Exposure Camera (c.1949)
  • Shackman 7000 Oscilloscope camera (for Polaroid film, c.1978)
  • Shackman AC 1/100/R Mark 2 Recording Camera (c.1950)
  • Shackman AC 2/25 Oscilloscope Recording Camera (c.1950)
  • Shackman Oscilloscope Camera SuperSeven (c.1972)

Passport cameras[]

  1. McKeown, p.889