Univex Iris

Univex Iris

The Univex Iris is a relatively high-end metal viewfinder camera debuted in 1938 by the Universal Camera Corporation. Universal employed a “razor and blades” approach to their products which means that, like all Univex cameras manufactured up to this point, the Iris can only be used with Universal’s proprietary film. This initially ingenious strategy became a massive liability when Gevaert–the Belgian firm that produced film on Universal’s behalf–was soon forced to cease production because of World War II.

Agfa Isoflash-Rapid C

Agfa Isoflash-Rapid C

The Agfa Isoflash-Rapid C (also sold as the Iso-Rapid C outside of the United States) is a 35mm viewfinder camera introduced by Agfa AG in 1966. The Isoflash-Rapid C is just one of many models in the Iso-Rapid line of simple compact cameras that make 24x24mm images using Agfa’s own Rapid film cartridges.

Bolsey Model B

Bolsey Model B

The Bolsey Model B is a 35mm rangefinder introduced by Bolsey in 1947. The Model B is essentially the rangefinder variant of the Bolsey Model A—a camera which seems to have never made it to market apart from being rebranded for sale as the LaBelle Pal—and is also the camera upon which the Bolsey Model C TLR is based. Bolsey produced several variants of the Model B with incrementally advanced features such as a double exposure prevention mechanism and flash synchronization and even made models specifically for the US Army and US Air Force

Kodak Brownie Vecta

Kodak Brownie Vecta

The Kodak Brownie Vecta is a simple plastic box camera manufactured by Kodak Ltd., London—Kodak’s British division—in 1963 for the 127 film format. The camera’s stylish looks can be attributed to world-renowned industrial designer Sir Kenneth Grange who, in addition to a handful of Kodak cameras, is also responsible for the InterCity 125 High Speed Train as well as the modern London Black Cab).

Certo Certo-phot

Certo Certo-phot

The Certo Certo-phot is a simple medium format viewfinder camera debuted by Certo-Kamera-Werk in 1958. The first of Certo’s basic fixed-lens 120 models, the Certo-phot went on to become the basis for the Certina which has a new viewfinder assembly and a proper frame advance lever to replace the winding knob.

Balda Baldessa Ia

Balda Baldessa Ia

The Balda Baldessa Ia (or Balda Baldessa 1a) is a 35mm rangefinder camera introduced by Balda Kamera-Werk in 1958, about ten years after founder Max Baldeweg fled Socialist Dresden to reestablish his company in the soon-to-be West German city of B ünde. The Baldessa Ia and its sister model the Ib are basically identical to the original Baldessa I with the addition of a coupled rangefinder. The Baldessa Ib then went a step further by also including a built-in light meter.

Kodak Retina II

Kodak Retina II

The Kodak Retina II is a high-end 35mm folding camera introduced in 1936 by Kodak AG, Eastman Kodak’s branch in what was then Nazi Germany. Like the original Retina, the Retina II was designed by Dr. August Nagel, founder of Nagel (which he sold to Kodak) and Contessa as well as co-founder of Zeiss Ikon. There are a number of different variants of the Retina II, the first three of which were manufactured before and during the early stages of World War II. In 1941, the Kodak AG factory in Stuttgart halted operations and began contributing to the war by making time-delay fuses for shells used by the much-feared 88mm Flak anti-aircraft gun. Then, shortly after Germany’s surrender in May 1945, camera production resumed and more versions followed. The exact Retina II pictured here is a type 142 (produced from 1937-1939) which is characterized by having separate viewfinder and rangefinder windows as well as a knurled knob for advancing the frame.

Petri Flex 7

Petri Flex 7

The Petri Flex 7 is a single lens reflex camera introduced by Petri in 1964 and is claimed to be the world’s first SLR with a fully integrated cadmium sulfide light meter. Known by many as “the poor man’s Contarex” for its superficial (and most likely intentional) resemblance to the Zeiss Ikon Contarex “Bullseye”, the Flex 7 was marketed as Petri’s flagship model and was supposedly meant to compete with the nigh untouchable Nikon F. Advertisements put special emphasis on the camera’s auto-indexing feature (meaning that the lens’s aperture setting would be automatically relayed to the body), the fact that its integrated light meter had an in-viewfinder indicator, and how Petri’s mastery of mass production meant high quality cameras at low prices.

Rollei A26

Rollei A26

The Rollei A26 is a compact viewfinder camera introduced by Rollei in 1972 for the 126 film format. Designed by Heinz Waaske—the father of the legendary Rollei 35—and built just two years after Rollei established its factory in Singapore, the A26 is the first of a small number of quirky compact cameras with an orange-on-black color scheme which also includes 1974’s A110 and the Rolleimatic of 1980.

Univex Uniflash

Univex Uniflash

The Univex Uniflash is a simple viewfinder camera made of Bakelite, an early plastic, which was introduced in 1941 by the Universal Camera Corporation. The Uniflash is named after its hot shoe, probably to call attention to the fact that it was the first inexpensive plastic camera in Universal’s lineup to feature one. Like other early Univex cameras such as the Model AF-4, the Uniflash used Universal’s proprietary No. 00 film as part of the company’s brilliant “razor and blades” marketing strategy.

Wirgin Edixa

Wirgin Edixa

The Wirgin Edixa (also known as the Wirgin Edixa I) is a 35mm viewfinder camera introduced by Wirgin in 1953. The Edixa was originally called the Wirgin Edina but the name change was forced by Eastman Kodak because “Edina” sounds too close to “Retina,” Kodak’s high-end line of German-made folding cameras. The Edixa was also rebadged by Munich-based camera dealer Obergassner and sold as the Obergassner Oga (confusingly, there were a variety of rebadged cameras—mostly manufactured by the German firms Franka and Regula—that bore the Obergassner Oga name). The Edixa is also the first model in a wide range of Edixa-branded cameras that include TLRs, subminiatures, and SLRs.

Olympus XA

Olympus XA

The Olympus XA is a sleek compact 35mm rangefinder introduced in 1979 by Olympus. After succeeding with a long line of compact 35mm half-frame “Pen” cameras, Rollei struck back with the amazing Rollei 35: a camera as small as any Pen but able to produce full-frame images. Olympus continued on with the newly outclassed Pen for over a decade before they finally came back with a real answer to Germany: the Olympus XA. When it was released, the XA was the smallest rangefinder ever made and is still one of the smallest today.

Kodak Flash Bantam

Kodak Flash Bantam

The Kodak Flash Bantam is a compact folding camera introduced in 1947 by Eastman Kodak. As the name suggests, the Flash Bantam is the flash-ready variant of the original Bantam line of compact folding cameras which have no flash synchronization capabilities. Like previous Bantams, this model also utilizes 828 film, the unperforated 35mm film that Kodak developed but ultimately abandoned in favor of the now-standard 35mm cartridge.

Spartus Press Flash

Spartus Press Flash

The Spartus Press Flash (also sold as the Falcon Press Flash, the Galter Press Flash, and the Regal Flash Master) is an unusually designed box camera introduced by the Spartus Camera Corporation in 1939. It is widely believed to be the very first camera of any kind to feature a built-in flash unit.

Ansco Anscomark M

The Ansco Anscomark M is an unusual 35mm interchangeable lens rangefinder manufactured for Ansco by Riken Optical Co., Ltd. (better known as Ricoh). A small percentage of the cameras produced were also sold as the Ricoh 999.

Dacora Digna

Dacora Digna

The Dacora Digna is a medium format fixed-lens viewfinder camera introduced by Dacora-Kamerawerk in 1954. There are several variants of the Digna with different lenses ranging from the relatively high-end Enna Correlar 80mm f/2.9 to more basic offerings like my example’s Dacora 80mm f/7.7 Achromat. The Digna was also sold as the Ilford Sporti in the British market.

Taron Chic

Taron Chic

The Taron Chic is a vertically oriented 35mm half-frame camera introduced by Taron in 1961. The only other camera that I’m aware of that bears any resemblance to the Chic is the Yashica Rapide. However, since they were both introduced in 1961, it’s unclear as to who copied whose vertical design or if there was indeed any copying done at all.

KMZ Zenit ET

The KMZ Zenit ET is a single lens reflex camera introduced by KMZ in 1981 as part of a long line of SLRs that bear the Zenit name. The Zenit ET was produced by Vileiskiy Zavod Zenit, a factory just outside Minsk that came about as a joint-venture in 1969 between KMZ and MMZ (which later became BelOMO).

Bilora Bella 44

The Bilora Bella 44 is a viewfinder camera introduced in 1958 under the brand name Bilora by Kürbi & Niggeloh, a manufacturer based in the German town of Radevormwald some 40 kilometers west of Düsseldorf. So named because it produced 4x4cm exposures, the Bella 44 was very similar to the original Bella of 1953 and the Bella 46, both of which delivered 4x6cm negatives. During its production life, the Bella 44 was also sold in the US as the Tower No. 5 and the Ansco Lancer as well as in Germany as the Foto-Quelle Revue 44.

Kodak PH-324

The Kodak PH-324 was the military version of the Kodak 35 built by Eastman Kodak on behalf of the United States Army Signal Corps for service during World War II. Mechanically, it was identical to the 35 with the only major differences being an olive drab green and black finish.

Kodak 35

The Kodak 35 was the first 35mm camera manufactured by Kodak in the United States. The Kodak Retina series—earlier 35mm models—were being made in Germany starting in 1934 but as war loomed on the horizon, Kodak decided to develop a 35mm camera that wouldn’t have to rely on imported components. The other major motivation for Kodak to make the 35 was to compete directly with the Argus A and Argus C series of cameras, a battle it would eventually lose.

Certo Certina

The Certo Certina (also sold by German retail giant Foto-Quelle as the Revue Junior) is a simple, fixed-lens medium format viewfinder camera introduced by Dresden-based Certo-Kamera-Werk in 1966. The Certina is heavily based on the Certo-phot of 1958 with the notable addition of a left-handed frame advance lever.

Graflex Graphic 35

The Graflex Graphic 35 is a 35mm rangefinder introduced in 1955 by Graflex as a replacement for the Graflex Ciro 35, the camera on which it was also heavily based. The Graphic 35 was designed in the US and earlier examples were made in Rochester although production shifted to Japan with Kowa later on. The lens and shutter were sourced from West Germany.

Hunter Gilbert

The Hunter Gilbert is an unusual British-made box camera introduced in 1953 by R. F. Hunter, Ltd., a London distribution company that sold cameras under its own brand as well as those of other companies.

LaBelle Pal

The LaBelle Pal is a 35mm viewfinder camera designed by Bolsey and sold by LaBelle Industries of Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. The camera was actually meant to be the Bolsey Model A, which was supposed to slot in nicely as an entry model alongside the Model B (a rangefinder) and the Model C (a twin lens rangefinder). Unfortunately, the Model A never quite materialized for reasons unknown and so only exists as the Labelle Pal. As a result, this camera is fairly rare.