The last two models of the Box-Tengor incorporated some feature enhancements including a large round film advance knob and double exposure prevention. While those changes were no doubt appealing to consumers, they may have had somewhat of a negative effect on durability and reliability. Though undeniably elegant and feature-laden, the Box-Tengors are still relatively inexpensive cameras, and the moving parts are made largely from soft sheetmetal held together by rivets.
The 55/2 model was introduced in 1939, and produced only for a year before WWII buried it. While it incorporated the main design enhancements which would appear in the post-war model, the bent tab shutter release and the time/instant selector at the top of the camera seem entirely out of character, and may have been compromises forced by war-time industrial production priorities.
The Box-Tengor shutter can be held open with the Time setting for low light exposures, or it can be used in Instant mode which gives an exposure of about 1/30th of a second. I can get sharp pictures from some of my small cameras at that speed, but a bulky box camera with a side-mounted release is just not conducive to capturing sharp images at slow shutter speeds. Getting in the habit of using a cable release and a tripod with the Box-Tengor will go a long way toward realizing the true potential of this elegantly styled box camera.
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All of these pictures were made with the 54/2 Box-Tengor on a tripod. The portrait is Tri-X, while the rest are on TMAX 100.
|National Hispanic Cultural Center|
Lewis Antique Auto & Toy Museum, Moriarty
User Manuals for the Box-Tengors are at the Butkus site.