Who was Ensinor? any history please

alan S

Link Posted 09/11/2007 - 15:20

Beyond the name thats on the lens I can find very little, a 28 and a couple of 135s on ebay but I can find nothing else?

The reason is I found a 28-80 1:3.5-4.5 macro in a PK mount
note on it says "requires attention"
slight play on the focus barrel and a little sticky on the diaphragm lever, glass looks hazy in need of a clean.

Could become a paperweight but at 3 I think that is a bargain over strange coloured glass balls! and a good talking point.

Diaphragm lever had been nudged in its past and was just fouling on its slot, so no big deal there

It works and with a little experience and play could be a little more than a paper weight. can anyone share some history please


Kim C

Link Posted 09/11/2007 - 20:33
I did a quick search and there seem to be quite a few dealers with ads mainly for 2x convertors. I don't know much about the recent history but certainly the name goes back to the 50's. Quite a few folding cameras from that era had Ensinor lenses including some Ensigns which were British made.


alan S

Link Posted 11/11/2007 - 16:49
Thanks Kim

Thats about all I could find.
It's a heavy lens about the same length as the pentax 28-90 but with a bigger lump of glass at the front, filter thread is 72 mm.
Focus ring rotation is short only about 60 degrees.
Getting some reasonably results whilst relearning manual basics a tweak here and there in PS

As I said above it could be just a paper weight but it seems pretty OK so far certainly a 3 (usable) ornament.


Link Posted 11/11/2007 - 18:36
The story of Ensign is a bit complicated, but in summary is as follows: It starts with Houghtons in 1834 and soon thereafter they begain selling Daguerreotypes requisites. In 1892 they became george Houghton & Son and in 1904 Houghtons Ltd. 1926 saw a merger and Houghton-Butcher (Great Britain) Ltd was formed. 1930 saw the creation of a selling arm called Ensign Ltd, which is where we came in with this thread.

In 1940 Ensign's London premises were destroyed by enemy action and Johnsons (the chemists) took over Ensign forming Houghtons (Holborn) Ltd. The Ensign name was retained and in 1945 another merger resulted in Barnet-Ensign, followed by Barnett Ensign Ross (194 and then Ross-Ensign (1954).

This continued until the firm disappeared around 1961.

In common with other famous names such as Voigtlander they don't disappear but the rights to the name linger on owned by someone. The japanese seem to have picked up a few and I think Ensinor (being a derivative used for lenses by Ensign) was used for budget SLR lenses probably up to the 1970s.

There my tale ends as I have no idea what the current state of play is. Perhaps a Google search?
Best regards, John

Kim C

Link Posted 11/11/2007 - 21:59
I tried google and a couple of others but all it came up with was mainlt the 2x convertors and ads. I am not sure if Ensign became Ensinor. In common with many other makers, they often "bought" in lenses and shutters and I thought it was an Ensinor on my Ensign Selfix. However, having checked it is an Ensor lens.



Link Posted 24/01/2008 - 18:20
I might be able to shed some light on what happened later on

Between 1981 and 1986 I worked for Tasco based in Old Welwyn, which encompased a group of other companies including Ensigne which was run buy a very nice gentleman by the name of Phil Marks (if memory serves me correctly). At the time he speciallised in all things photographic and was the main agent for Ensinor lenses, filters etc. These products were found in the Argos catalogue, reader offers in magazines (TV Times, AP, etc) and most of the large mail order catalogues like Grattons, Kays etc. I was given one of their 35-153 f3.5 tele lenses, and from memory they had around 8 lenses in the range, from a 28mm wide angle, through to a 500mm mirror, with their best seller being the 80 - 200 tele macro. Whilst the lenses were often rated in the budget arena, they were very good quality and received good reviews, offering excellent value for money.

I left Tasco in 1986 and also lost contact with the people there. I believe that Phil is no longer with us, and I have no idea if his company continues or was wound up.

Hope this helps


MX veteran

Link Posted 24/01/2008 - 18:46
Wasn't he in Lord of the Rings?
K100D Super, 18-55, 50-200, Sigma 10-20, Sigma 70mm macro and lots of old lenses
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