The patent for the Michel Brieftauben-Panorama-Kamera was applied for on 3 February 1936 and granted Swiss patent number 192864 on 15 September 1937. Additional patents were granted in Germany (656666), France (803039) and Belgium (419488). The Michel camera was not the first pigeon camera, Dr Julius Neubronner of Kronberg, Germany, designed a simple pigeon camera in Germany in 1903, tested it during 1908 at Spandau and marketed it from 1912. Very few examples are known to exist.
The Michel pigeon camera was more advanced than the Neubronner. It produced six or seven panoramic negatives 10 x 36mm. on 16mm. film at intervals of approximately thirty seconds. A timer on the camera set a delay of up to seventy minutes before the first exposure was made, a second mechanism set and released the shutter. The f/2.5 anastigmat lens rotated through 90 degrees. A specially shaped plate ensured a snug fit on the chest of a homing pigeon which carried the camera. The camera weighed 70g.
The model B camera is described in the instruction booklet as producing twelve to fifteen negatives 10 x 22mm. at intervals of 30 seconds.
C. Adrian Michel, the patentee of the camera, was born on 6 January 1912 in Biel, Switzerland. His father had founded the firm of Michel SA in Grenchen which was taken over by the Swatch group in 1993. His mother founded the firm Adrian Michel in 1925 in Walde making watches. C. Adrian Michel joined the firm in 1931 and from 1935 owned and ran the company. During the economic depression of the 1930s the firm diversified in stamping machinery and making specialised equipment. The firm's watch-making license was sold in 1959 and it remains in business today, run by family members as a specialised engineering company. Michel died on 27 March 1980.
An example of the Model A was sold in Photographs, Magic Lanterns, Optical Toys and Cameras, 19 November 2002, lot 500. Both that camera and this example of the Model B are the only examples to have been offered at auction.