National Instrument Corp. Major

National Instrument Corp. Major

The National Instrument Corp. Major is a barebones box camera designed for the 620 film format and introduced by the National Instrument Corporation of Houston, Texas. The Major, alongside the Colonel (virtually identical apart from having flash synchronization capabilities), and the upright Camflex were all introduced at around the same time and were the only known models produced during the manufacturer’s brief foray into the photography industry which makes all three cameras relatively rare and difficult to find.

Marksman Six-20

Marksman Six-20

The Marksman Six-20 is a no-frills box camera introduced in 1948 and sold by the Bernard Marks & Co. Ltd. of Toronto, Canada. Although both Eastman Kodak and Leica had a long history of manufacturing cameras at their factories in Ontario, many consider the Marksman Six-20 to be one of the only bona fide Canadian cameras in existence, but is it really?

Kodak Duex

Kodak Duex

The Kodak Duex is a collapsible basic medium format viewfinder camera introduced by Eastman Kodak in 1940 for 620 roll film. The Duex is the spiritual successor to the Kodak Duo series of 620 cameras which were designed by Dr. August Nagel (founder of Nagel, Contessa, and thus co-founder of Zeiss Ikon) and produced in the Nagel factory in Stuttgart shortly after the company was sold to Eastman Kodak. The Duo was made in Germany until Kodak shifted production to the United States due to the looming threat of conflict. Then, with the Second World War cutting off access to its German division, Kodak transitioned their 620 offerings from high quality folding cameras to inexpensive and relatively primitive models like the Duex.

Ansco Anscoflex

The Ansco Anscoflex is an unusual pseudo TLR camera introduced in 1954 by Ansco. The Anscoflex (and Anscoflex II) was crafted by the world-renowned French-American industrial designer Raymond Loewy, the same man whose portfolio includes the iconic Greyhound Scenicruiser bus, several steam locomotives for the Pennsylvania Railroad, various cars like the Studebaker Avanti, Sunbeam Alpine, and Hillman Minx, the interiors of the supersonic Concorde and NASA’s Skylab space station, as well as the livery for Air Force One. Small wonder he was referred to by the press as “The Father of Industrial Design.”

Spartus Six Twenty

The Spartus Six Twenty is a box camera dressed up as a TLR introduced in 1940 by the Spartus Camera Corporation of Chicago. The Six Twenty—so named because it takes 620 format film—is what’s called a “psuedo TLR” which means that it looks like legitimate TLR at a glance but is technically a box camera because the lenses do not focus in tandem (unlike its cousin, the Spartus Spartaflex which has a coupled focusing system). In fact, the lenses on the Six Twenty can’t really be focused at all.

Kodak Jiffy Six 20

When it was introduced, the Kodak Jiffy Six 20 was marketed by Eastman Kodak as the simplest, most user-friendly folding camera ever made. Up until that point, most folding cameras were of the same basic design (example: Kodak No. 3A Autographic). They were relatively difficult to handle, complex, and required users to manually unfold the camera and extend the lens in order to take photos. In the spirit of simplicity, the Jiffy boasts a simple two button operation. The first small metal button can be found on the film advance knob’s side of the camera and releases the front plate, causing the metal struts on either side to snap into place and automatically extend the lens. The second button is the shutter lever which can be found on the side of the front plate once extended.

Kodak Brownie Hawkeye

The Kodak Brownie Hawkeye is a simple plastic box camera produced from the late 1940s to the early 1960s. In addition to being made in its flagship factory in New York, the Brownie Hawkeye was also manufactured in Canada and France by its international subsidiaries. Over the years, there have been a significant number of Kodak cameras called the “Brownie;” this Hawkeye is one of the most popular models ever to bear the name.

M.I.O.M. Photax III

The M.I.O.M. Photax III is a simple viewfinder camera made of Bakelite—an early plastic—produced by Manufacture d’Isolants et d’Objets Moulé, a now defunct French company that specialized in electrical insulators and plastic molding. M.I.O.M. made several different cameras before and after the Second World War including eight variations of their flagship Photax model between 1937 and 1960.

Herco Imperial 620 Snap Shot

The Herco Imperial 620 Snap Shot is a simple plastic box camera that was manufactured by the Herbert George Co. of Chicago (which would later become the Imperial Camera Corporation). This and other box cameras like it were initially sold under the brand name “Herco” and then, somewhat confusingly, under the “Imperial” brand. While doing my research, I found this camera being referred to as both the “Herco Imperial” and the “Imperial Herco.” This camera will be referred to in this article as the Herco Imperial because it just makes more sense given the hierarchy of text on the camera itself.

Kodak Six-20 Bull’s Eye

The Kodak Six-20 Bull’s Eye is a box camera made of Bakelite, an early plastic. The shutter lever is located under a simple meniscus lens with a minimum focus distance of eight feet and a fixed shutter speed with manual bulb mode activated by the lever above the lens. The primitive viewfinder is only usable for approximating composition and runs along the top of the camera next to the circular metal knob that’s used to advance the film after each exposure. The little nub opposite the braided handle is used to keep the lens level when the camera’s resting on its side for portraits.