Archive for January, 2013

Top Ten Cameras of the Recent Past

Perhaps it’s nostalgia, or the plethora of top ten lists this time of year, or the ongoing bankruptcy proceedings of Eastman Kodak.  Regardless of the reason, I have decided to compile my own top ten list of the most iconic cameras of the second half of the last century.

#10 – Brownie Starflash, 1957, $8.50 org. price. The Brownie line was already popular with the average photographer.  Starflash was the first Kodak camera with a built-in flash (it used single use flash bulbs).  An estimated 10 million were sold.starflash

#9 – Nikon F, 1959, $330 org. price. This wasn’t Nikon’s first 35mm, but it is the one that made Nikon a name.  This hard-to-destroy camera soon became “the” camera of photojournalists of the 60’s and 70’s.  Aspects of this camera survive in today’s Nikon

#8 –Kodak  Instamatic 100, 1963, $16 org. price.  This fixed focus, simple camera changed the snapshot industry.  The Instamatic line stayed in production for more than 20 years and is the reason that everyone over 40 knows what 126 film and flash cubes are.Kodak-Instamatic-100

#7 – Kodak Pocket Instamatic 20, 1972, $28 org. price.  Created to use their new line of 110 film, the Pocket Instamatic could (as the name suggests), fit in your pocket.  Never as successful as the original Instamatic, later models did introduce us to the flash bar.  Six years later, Kodak combined the two into the Ektralite line that included a built-in electronic flash.pocket

#6 – Polaroid Land Camera SX-70, 1972, $180 org. price. Edwin Land introduced us to the Polaroid in 1948, but this model was the first to use the new film that developed before your eyes.  The last camera was produced in 2007, but for 35 years all of the models used the same type of film and provided us with a sound that is immediately recognizable.polaroid_land

#5 – Canon AE-1, 1976, $357, org. price.  Forty years after the release of their first 35mm camera, Canon released the first camera with an internal computer. The CPU controlled exposure and the self-timer and was simple by today’s terms, but it was revolutionary in its time.  It is still a great camera and fairly easy to find (over 5 million were sold).CanonAE1Pgrm-Joe

#4 – Kodak Disc 4000, 1982, $68 org. price. Everything on this camera was automatic (the film advance, the focus, the flash), but the relatively expensive film produced inferior photos.  The development of fully automatic, snapshot cameras that used the far superior 35mm film meant the end of the disc cameras in less than five years.Kodak_Disc_4000

#3 – Minolta Maxxum 7000, 1985, $965 org. price. Despite its hefty price tag, Maxxum 7000 modernized the 35 mm SLR with an autofocus that really worked.  Others had tried, but Minolta succeeded and all of its 18 interchangeable lenses focused quickly.  The Maxxum soon became the target for competitors and was eventually surpassed, but still has its spot in history.Minolta_Maxxum_AF_7000

#2 – Fuji One Time Use Camera, 1990. Fuji was not the first company to introduce single use cameras, but they were the most successful.  The cameras originally used 110 film, but were soon made with 35mm film in a variety of speeds and eventually included a built-in flash.  While their popularity has waned over the years, they are still in use today.fuji

#1 – Kodak DC-40, 1995, $600 org. price.  Kodak’s first consumer digital camera took photos at a whopping 512 x 768 resolution with an internal memory of 4 MB.  The camera was 6” x 5” x 2” and weighed over a pound.  Ironically, it was the change from film to digital that helped bring on the demise of Eastman Kodak.