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John Wade Posted: Aug 19, 2015 0 comments

You’ve seen it in films and on television: the spy breaks into the villain’s office, removes a tiny camera from his jacket pocket and begins shooting pictures of secret plans.

John Wade Posted: Jul 13, 2015 1 comments

Ninety years ago, at the 1925 Leipzig Spring Fair in Germany, a camera was launched that was destined to change the face of photography. This was a time when it was still common for glass plates to be used in cameras, and those that took roll film were thought of as miniatures. So imagine the culture shock when a still photography camera was produced to take 35mm movie film.

John Wade Posted: Jan 23, 2015 0 comments

Mention Minolta to pre-digital photographers and thoughts turn to high quality, often revolutionary, 35mm Single Lens Reflex (SLR) cameras. It was Minolta, for example, that introduced the XD-11 (known as the XD-7 outside the US) in 1977, the first camera to feature both shutter- and aperture-priority modes. And it was Minolta that launched the Maxxum 5000 (Minolta 5000 outside the US) in 1985, the first SLR to feature body-integral autofocus.

 

John Wade Posted: Sep 05, 2014 1 comments

In the days before digital it wasn’t uncommon for photographers to go out shooting with two or more types of film at the same time. For some, it was to give a choice between color or black and white. For others, it was the need for different film speeds. Short of rewinding a film midway through a roll, removing it and reloading, there were two options: carry more than one camera; or, if your camera took interchangeable lenses, carry a single range of lenses with two or more compatible bodies.

John Wade Posted: Jul 08, 2014 Published: Jun 01, 2014 0 comments

In the days before the 35mm Single Lens Reflex (SLR) rose to prominence, the 35mm viewfinder camera reigned supreme. Unlike the reflex viewing system of the SLR, this camera type used a separate optical viewfinder with a slightly different view to that of the lens. Some featured built-in coupled rangefinders to aid accurate focusing, and many stood at the center of versatile systems of lenses and accessories.

John Wade Posted: Feb 07, 2014 Published: Jan 01, 2014 0 comments

America did not invent photography—that honor must go to the French—but US camera manufacturers can take credit for introducing simple ways of taking pictures and bringing photography to the masses. Along the way, many also came up with often strange and sometimes ugly designs.

John Wade Posted: Nov 15, 2013 Published: Oct 01, 2013 0 comments

Cameras with built-in meters were not rare in the 1960s, but the problem with camera meters before the Topcon RE Super was that the cell took in a different view than that of the lens. Using a standard lens that was mostly okay, but if a wide-angle or telephoto lens were fitted, changing the field of view and the part of the subject needing to be accurately metered, it was a different matter.

John Wade Posted: Aug 27, 2013 Published: Jul 01, 2013 2 comments

The Twin Lens Reflex (TLR) design involved two lenses, one to record its image on film, the other to reflect its image to a focusing screen. The style dates back to the days of plate cameras, but came to the fore with the launch of the Rolleiflex in 1928.

John Wade Posted: Mar 07, 2013 Published: Feb 01, 2013 16 comments

The Voigtländer Prominent was one of the most sophisticated cameras of the 1950s—also among the most complicated, and just a bit eccentric. It was launched in 1951, a time when 35mm rangefinder cameras were at their peak. Yet it anticipated the approaching popularity of single lens reflexes by offering devices that converted it from rangefinder to reflex use and surrounding itself with interchangeable lenses, viewfinders, close-up attachments, filters, and other accessories that made it a true system camera.

John Wade Posted: Jan 15, 2013 Published: Dec 01, 2012 23 comments

Making panoramic pictures in the digital age is easy. But it’s a lot more fun to use classic panoramic cameras, many of which can still be bought and used today.

 

The first panoramic camera was the Megaskop, made in 1844 to produce daguerreotypes on silver-plated copper plates, 4.7x17.5” wide. Later, there were Cirkut cameras, made first by the Rochester Panoramic Camera Company in 1904 and later by Kodak. These cameras were, and still are, used to produce super-wide school or sports club pictures. As the exposure was made, a clockwork motor rotated the camera on its tripod while inside the film traveled from one spool to another, past a slit at the focal plane.

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