The 6 Most Iconic Cameras

Posted on 07 June 2012 by Guest Contributor

Guest post by Elise Lévêque (@elise_gkbcinc) with GKBCinc.

Here’s my run-down of the six most iconic cameras ever to have been created…

Polaroid SX-70
Creative Commons License photo credit: Thomas Backa

Polaroid SX-70 (1972)

I can’t make a list of the most iconic cameras ever without starting with a Polaroid, and this popular model has to be the best one of all – it was the first truly ‘instant’ camera because whereas the Model 95 by Polaroid, first sold in 1947, printed photos that had to be manually removed from the camera, peeled open and then left to dry for some minutes, the SX-70 auto-ejected the photos which dried after just a few seconds. Plus, the entire camera folded up nice and flat – a super modern feature at a time when other cameras were big and bulky!

Miniatures
Creative Commons License photo credit: Marcin Wichary

Riga Minox (1938)

Now a popular collector’s item, the unmistakable Minox was conceived in 1922 but not actually made until 1936 when it gained an instant reputation as a must-have ‘spy’ gadget thanks to its small, easily-concealed size – not quite the luxury gift purpose it was originally intended for! When World War II broke out, the British Intelligence Services rushed out and bought every Minox they could get their hands on, proving just how ahead of their times these high-tech little cameras were.

Graflex Speed Graphic
Creative Commons License photo credit: alexkerhead

Graflex Speed Graphic (1912)

Long before the term paparazzo was coined, American paparazzi were trawling the streets with their Speed Graphics, stalking the rich and famous in search of that career-changing shot. This bulky camera was not easy to use, requiring the film sheet to be changed and the camera refocused for every shot. This made it easy for celebrities to avoid being photographed, until today’s paparazzi who fire off shot after shot without stopping! The giant flash also meant it was great at capturing high quality images in low level interior lighting environments.

Argus C3 35mm
Creative Commons License photo credit: Kevitivity

Argus C3 (1939)

Nicknamed ‘The Brick’ – a moniker that probably wouldn’t cut it in today’s high-tech society – the weighty C3 was a firm favourite for years thanks to its unique combination of quality and low price. Vintage camera fans found their love for the camera reignited when it was recently featured in the popular Harry Potter film Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

Kodak Brownie Target  SIX-20 box camera
Creative Commons License photo credit: Kevitivity

Kodak Brownie (1900)

I bet you didn’t know the Kodak company existed back in 1900! Nicknamed ‘The Box’, it was simply that – a box with a lens at one side. In fact, it was even first produced in cardboard! Cheap and easy to use, it was massively popular. It probably wouldn’t see the same level of fame in today’s market however, as this bulky baby only took 2 ¼ inch square photos, and not ones with particularly great lighting contrast or resolution either!

1932 Standard Rolleiflex
Creative Commons License photo credit: Podknox

Rolleiflex (1929)

This wonderfully vintage looking camera had two lenses – the bottom one actually took the photo, whilst the top lens was simply a viewfinder for the photographer to see what he was capturing. The only problem was that it showed the image back to front, making photographing moving subjects rather difficult! The user also had to look into a lens and check the frame number on the roll of film himself, so it wasn’t the easiest camera in the world to use. Nonetheless, great photographers of the time such as Diane Arbus rarely touched another camera, cementing this as a popular icon in the photography world.

Do you know any other iconic cameras?

9 Comments For This Post

  1. Eric Says:

    I’d add the Pentax K1000 to the list.

    Very few cameras can boast a (nearly unchanged) production for more than 20 years – the K1000 was produced until the late nineties.

    My first SLR was a K1000 Clone – there were dozens and dozens of imitators, making the K-mount one of the most popular lenses (and widely available) lenses on the market.

    [Reply]

    Smitty Reply:

    Seconded. I still shoot with one to this day. Most durable camera I’ve ever used.

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  2. Janne Says:

    I’d put a Leica there before either the Minox or Argus.

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  3. Elise Lévêque Says:

    I could have done actually! very good point Janne. What about the classic Leica Rangefinder M3 introduced in 1954?

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  4. Daire Says:

    Plus you almost certainly need some sort of SLR there. I’d plump for an early Spotmatic http://www.flickr.com/photos/dairequinlan/7304390002/
    First slr with TTL metering has to be due a mention :-)

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  5. Jean-Pierre Says:

    I second the Pentax Spotmatic!

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  6. Frank Says:

    Nikon F or early Canon. Polaroid had other cameras that were more iconic. Any box camera, even some modern copies, 4 x 5 or 8 x 10.

    [Reply]

  7. Luffup Says:

    Why there is no Hasselblad?

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  8. Karel Van den Fonteyne Says:

    What about an Exakta Varex or VX1000, equiped with a waist level finder and a Flektogon 35mm lens? Or a Leica SL?

    [Reply]

  9. RR Alexander Says:

    I have nominated your blog for the One Lovely Blog Award. For more information, see http://rralexander.wordpress.com/award/.

    [Reply]

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