Century Universal

Cameras of Ansel Adams

The Century Universal was produced by Folmer Schwing during and after the Kodak ownership. The camera is similar but lighter and more compact than the similar Eastman View Camera No. 2-D (AKA: Kodak 2D).

This type was Ansel’s first 8×10 camera. This model was used by both Ansel Adams and Edward Weston. Ansel acquired his in the early 1930s. It is known that Weston continued to use his for some time, but Ansel has tended to say little about his larger cameras, though he describes the lenses in his writings.

He refers to this as the Folmer Schwing Universal when describing the camera that he used to take his 1932 series of the Golden Gate before the Bridge.

He selected this for light weight and a stiff frame, though he found it to be too light for windy conditions. Later he chose heavier metal-frame cameras, and I imagine he let others carry the gear for him.