Camera Designs - Cameras 1900 to 1950
Camera Basics | Camera Types
Cameras before 1900 | Cameras 1900 to 1950 | Cameras after 1950

Cameras 1900 to 1950 
The box camera design was simple and successful. Many box cameras had long production lives, for example the Box Tengor was in production for over 30 years.
Camera : Box Tengor
Manufacturer : Zeiss Ikon
Date : c1925-1956
Please click here for detailed viewing
The box camera was not very compact so in 1897 Eastman Kodak introduced a range of folding cameras called the Folding Pocket Kodaks.
Please click here for detailed viewing Camera : No. 3A Folding Pocket Kodak
Manufacturer : Eastman Kodak
Date : 1903-1915
From 1914 the Autographic feature appeared on most models, this enabled the photographer to write on the film with a metal stylus, through the backing paper and special tissue. The Autographic feature was accessible via a flap on the back of the camera.
Please click here for detailed viewing
For over 30 years the Kodak girl advertised Kodak cameras in the UK

The 'Speed Graphic' 4 x 5 inch plate camera dominated photojournalism in America during the 1930s. The Speed Graphic, first introduced in 1912, was manufactured by Graflex, a Rochester, New York based camera maker. The camera was a portable version of the studio view camera offering camera movements, interchangeable lenses and extendable bellows for extreme close-ups. Many models had coupled range finders for fast focusing as well as the traditional glass screen. Also fitted were open wire framed and optical viewfinders plus a large flashbulb holder. At this time Newspapers preferred their photographers to use plates as they could be processed individually, also the 5 inch format was very practical for newspaper layout as this sized negative exactly fitted 3 newspaper column widths. However the versatility of this camera had to be balanced against its weight and general clumsiness. 
Camera :  "Pre-Anniversary" Speed Graphic 
Manufacturer : Graflex 
Date : c1928 - 1939
Please click here for detailed viewing
Please click here for detailed viewing
Camera :  British copy of the American Speed Graphic.
Manufacturer : MPP 
Date : 1940

The Single Lens Reflex (SLR) designs comes from the 17th Century camera obscuras. It uses a mirror at an angle of 45 degrees to divert the image from the film plane to a viewing screen on the top of the camera. The SRL design was not necessary until the 1890's when the emulsion speed of dry plates made action photography possible. The SLR design enabled the photographer to view action right up to the moment the picture was taken.
In 1932 the German company Ihagee began production of the Exakta. It was smaller and more compact than previous SLR designs although it still used roll-film and a waist-high viewfinder. The camera was an immediate success.

Camera : Exakta A
Manufacturer : Ihagee
Date : 1932-c1940
Please click here for detailed viewing
The Twin Lens Reflex (TLR) design, where the image is viewed through a second lens, was too cumbersome for plate cameras. However in the 1930's they started to appear on small roll-film cameras. Franke & Heidecke, later known as Rollei, introduced their first Rolleiflex TLR in 1929. The cheaper Rolleicord was introduced in 1933.
Camera : Rolleiflex
Manufacturer : Franke & Heidecke
Date : 1929-1932
Please click here for detailed viewing
In 1889 Thomas Edison, while working on equipment that might be used to photograph moving pictures, approached George Eastman for some of his new flexible film. The 2 3/4 inches (70 mm) wide Kodak roll-film was slit down the middle, making it 1 3/8 inches (35 mm) and sprocket holes were punched down each side for film transportation through the movie camera. By the First World War this film had become the standard for movie pictures. Several camera manufacturers attempted to use this readily available film stock but the cameras were not of a high enough quality to satisfactorily record images on this small film size.

In 1913 a German design engineer, Oskar Barnack, produced a prototype 35 mm camera. Barnack had poor health but was an avid hiker and amateur photographer. He wanted to take a smaller camera on his walks in the hills. In 1924 the camera went into production at the Leitz factory in Germany. It was called the Leica from the initials of  "LEItz CAmera" and took pictures the size of 24 x 36 mm. This was twice as large as the standard movie film picture (24 x 18 mm) and became the standard for 35 mm still photography. The capabilities of the Leica made a new form of photojournalism possible, as typified by the Magnum photographic agency.

Please click here for detailed viewing Camera : Leica II
Manufacturer : Ernst Leitz
Date : 1932-1948
In 1934 Kodak produced their first 35 mm camera The Retina 1. With it Kodak introduced a new kind of film cassette which they called the 135. This is the standard 35 mm cassette still in use today.
Camera : Retina Type 117
Manufacturer : Kodak (Germany)
Date : 1934-1935
Please click here for detailed viewing
In 1948 the Polaroid Land Camera Model 95 was introduced. Dr. Edwin H Land invented an "instant" camera and film which did not require a separate development process as all the required chemicals were incorporated into a pod in the film.
Please click here for detailed viewing Camera :Polaroid Land 95
Manufacturer : Polaroid
Date : 1948-1953
In 1948 Hasselblad, a Swedish company, introduced the camera which was the forerunner to some of the best known roll-film SLRs today
Camera : Hasselblad 1600F
Manufacturer : Hasselblad
Date : 1948-1952
Please click here for detailed viewing
In 1949 the German Contax S and the Italian Rectaflex Single Lens Reflex (SLR) cameras were introduced with a pentaprism on top of the camera to turn the image the correct way round in the viewfinder.

Next in Camera Designs : Cameras after 1950

Camera Basics | Camera Types
Cameras before 1900 | Cameras 1900 to 1950 | Cameras after 1950

Ted's Photographics