I started collecting cameras in about 2001. My parents gave me three of their old cameras, a Kodak Brownie, a Kodak Retina I and a Super Westomat II (see below).
Since then my collection has gradually been growing – usually, after a trip to a flea market, a chance find in an antique shop or purely as a result of me spending too much time on eBay. I have included a number of my collection here. Some are favourites and some are just darn interesting (like the Russian and East German ones.)
This the current pride of my collection. I bought it a camera shop in Kanab, Utah in summer 2017. I just love the red bellows and wooden finish.
Agfa Billy Compur
The Agfa Billy Compur is a folding 120 film 6×9 format camera by Agfa.
This is what I would call a “flea market special” – I see it really often for sale. This is one of the “newer” cameras in my collection, an automated 35mm camera, made in Germany by Agfa and introduced circa 1966. It was very obviously very popular.
Although not shown here, this one came with a leather case that makes it look very hip (especially for the back end of the sixties.)
Agfa Silette (original) is the first of the long-lasting Silette series 35mm film viewfinder cameras made by Agfa and introduced in 1953. It has a very solid feel about it although maybe a bit too brutal looking for everyone’s taste.
Agfa Optima I
The Optima is a family of 35mm cameras made by Agfa in the 1960s and beyond. The original Optima from 1959 was the first camera manufactured with automatic programmed exposure, using a selenium-meter-driven mechanical system. Although older than its baby brother above, it has a more sophisticated feel about it.
Agfa Box 44
A very “dark” and ominous looking box camera. The amazing thing about this one is the sheer volume of them that Agfa managed to ship. It was introduced in 1932 as “the camera for the people” with 900,000 being sold.
Agfa Box 50
The Agfa Box 50, a durable simple camera for “absolute beginners,” was released in 1949. It made 6×9 cm exposures on film rolls of type 120. The inner part of the camera had to be taken out of the camera to load the film.
The Arette reminds we a lot of the Agfa Optima I and in fact preceded it by 3 years being introduced in 1956 ba AkA. There were two models (yes, the other one was the 1A!) – the more upscale model variant 1B differed primarily by having a light meter.
The Baldini is essentially the pre-War Balda Jubilette with a new name. In 1950, it received a satin chrome or black enamelled top plate that covered the right half of the camera and contained the viewfinder, frame counter, and an accessory shoe.
Balda was a German maker based in Dresden. It was founded in 1908 and took the name Balda-Werk Max Baldeweg in 1913. It made a quantity of medium-priced folders before World War II, and its camera production was quite comparable to Welta or Certo, though Baldas, as a rule, sold for lower prices than either of those cameras. One originality of Balda was to sell cameras to many other companies for resale under their own brand (today this would be called OEM). Perhaps as part of this strategy, Balda cameras were fitted with a very wide range lenses, from the low-cost self-branded triplets through Meyers and Ludwigs, to the high-end Schneider Xenars and Xenons, and Zeiss Tessars and Biotars.
The Bolsey B is a 35mm rangefinder camera with a cast aluminium body, introduced by Bolsey in 1947.
The Bilora Box is launched in 1935. Production is interrupted by the war and resumed in 1949.
This is the ultimate East German SLR and is one that I really see often. It is a mechanical SLR camera body with collapsible top-view finder and was made for lenses with the EXA-bayonet fitting, among them many of the famous old Meyer-Optik Görlitz lenses.
Exakta VX500, also an East German 35mm film SLR camera, was like the Exa 1a, manufactured by Ihagee Kamerawerk Steenbergen & Co in Dresden. It was produced between 1969-72.
The Franka Solida is a 6×6 folding camera released in 1936.
The Hapo 66-E is essentially a 6×6cm Mess-Baldix, equipped with a colour-corrected Enna Haponar f:3.5 75mm lenses, and a Pronto shutter with speeds up to 1/200 sec and a self-timer, made by Balda for Porst under the Hapo brand. More info on it can be found here.
Kodak No. 2C Autographic Junior
A gorgeous old dame, it is a large format film folding bed camera made by Eastman Kodak Co., Rochester, N.Y., USA and produced between 1916-27. The No.2C body was constructed of aluminium and covered in fine seal grain leather. The metal parts were finished in nickel or black enamel. Features included a folding black bellows design, adjustable focus with automatic focusing lock, reversible finder and two tripod sockets.
It is truly a beautiful camera and it’s chunky size it simply the cherry on the top!
Kodak Folding Brownie Six-20
Type: Self-erecting folding roll film
Produced: 1937 – 1940
Film size: 620
The first camera into my collection. Produced by Kodak Ltd. in the UK, this was my father’s 2nd camera. More info on it can be found here.
Kodak Retinette I Typ 030/9
The Kodak Retinette is a series of 35mm viewfinder cameras made in Germany by Kodak AG.
Kodak Retina Ia
The Retina Ia (Type 015) was a folding camera for 35mm film made by the German Kodak AG. It was introduced in January 1951.
Kodak Retina Ib
Type: Compact folding camera
Produced: 1954 – 1957
Film size: 35mm
Introduced at the Photokina 1954, it had the new fast Synchro-Compur shutter with a light-value setting mode. That means that several appropriate aperture/shutter-speed settings easily could be found when the actual light value was preset. This camera was purchased in 1961 at Wolfs Camera shop in Königsfeld, Germany by my mother. More info on it can be found here.
Kodak Vollenda 620
The Kodak Vollenda 620 was a folding camera for the type 620 film.
Pontiac Bloc Metal 41
The Bloc Métal 41 was released in 1941 by the French maker Pontiac. It was a 6×9 folding camera with an aluminium body and replaced the Pontiac Bakélite camera. It was a simple camera, with film advance by a knob and red window. The aluminium body was not leather covered, but painted black, a characteristic of many later Pontiac cameras.
Smena-4 is a viewfinder 35mm film camera made by GOMZ, and produced between 1958-60.
Taisai Koki, Super Westomat II
The Super Westomat 35 is a 35mm rangefinder made by Taisei Kōki in the mid 50’s. This was also a gift from my parents. More info on it can be found here.
This one is the latest camera in my collection. It is a pseudo-TLR that takes 6x6cm exposures on roll 120 film. These cameras were made by Voigtländer & Sohn AG, Braunschweig, Germany and produced between 1932-1951. Based on the features of this one, it appears to be manufactured between 1938 and 1951.
Voigtländer Vito B
The Vito B is an attractive and compact 35mm viewfinder made by Voigtländer and produced between 1954-60.
Welt Welti 1
The Welti is a 35mm folding viewfinder camera made by Welta from 1935 through the 1960s.
Zeiss Ikon Box Tengor 54/2
Box Tengor is a series of medium format film box cameras made by Zeiss Ikon and produced between 1926-1956.
Zeiss Ikon Nettar 512/2
The Nettar series by Zeiss Ikon was a successful range of self-erecting folding cameras for 120 roll film. This is the older version in my collection. It was released in 1935. This is Version C which is distinguished by the hexagonal, art-deco faceplate.
Zeiss Ikon Nettar 515/16
The Nettar 516/16 was released two years after the 512/2 in 1937. This is one of my earlier purchases and involved a trip to a very suspicious part of town on a dark and stormy night… (OK, it wasn’t that stormy – but I was a little nervous…)
The Contaflex series is a family of 35mm leaf-shuttered SLR cameras, produced by Zeiss Ikon in the 1950s and 1960s.