Here’s my run-down of the six most iconic cameras ever to have been created…
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
photo credit: Podknox
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?