Vintage Cameras We’ve Known & Loved
I have a thing for vintage cameras. The smell, the arcane engineering, the years of wear and tear. They stop becoming just objects but instead they are storytellers. They’ve witnessed the sad, the happy, and the glorious moments of our lives. What they leave us are snapshots, windows into the past that remind us of who we are.
Here at Vintage Photo Lab, we decided to have a look at some of these little wonders.
The Kodak ‘Vest Pocket’
An old one, but a beauty. Manufactured in the early part of the 20th century by George Eastman’s Kodak company and arguably one of the first personal cameras. Eastman had a design philosophy; ‘You press the button, we do the rest’. The Vest Pocket’s simple design typifies this approach. Easy buttons, a fold away lens and a size not much bigger than an iPhone, small enough to fit into a vest or waistcoat pocket.
Often referred to as the Soldier’s camera; it gained its fame on the battlefields of WW1. With its convenient size and ease of use, it soon established itself with the Tommies who recorded the mundane and horrors of war life. So much so it was officially banned by the War Office after soldiers photographed the Christmas 1914 No Man’s Land truce. Images of troops fraternising and playing football with the enemy wasn’t the story the government wanted to portray.
The Vest Pocket, the first camera that was used to record our everyday lives, without it we wouldn’t have our shoe boxes full of memories.
The Olympus ‘Trip’
A Seventies classic, a beautifully made, but simple to use point and shoot camera. Built by Olympus from the late 60’s to the early 80’s the Trip was much imitated but never beaten.
In the 1970s Olympus ran the famous ad campaign starring iconic fashion photographer David Bailey, it’s tag line ‘Who’d you think you are? David Bailey?’ rang around my school playground daily. The ad must have worked because soon after my parents bought one. It was brilliant, drifting towards idiot proof, just point, hit the button and take the photo.
I owe my love of photography to the Trip. It was the first TV ad I remember and the first camera I remember my family having. It was small, black, silver and very cool. I was hooked.
The Polaroid ‘OneStep’
From the ’60s Polaroid made its name by developing and making the ‘instant’ camera. However, it was the OneStep made in the ’80s that was by far the most popular; an inexpensive, fixed lens, point and shoot gem.
The instant cameras were a brilliant idea and a marvel of miniature chemistry. Press the button and out popped the picture, via frantic wafting in the air to dry! Without the need to go to Boots to develop a film, the Polaroid became popular with those wishing to take a more ‘artistic’ private photo. The OneStep’s only drawback was the price of the film; each cartridge contained just ten shots, a trigger-happy photographer could soon burn through a few packs and pounds!
A Polaroid was the first camera I owned as a child; it gave me freedom as a kid to play and experiment with photography, I took it with me everywhere. I still have it, my children use it as a toy. If only I could buy a pack of film and see what happens…
Boxes of Memories
Without these black and silver boxed wonders we wouldn’t have a window into our past, they created snapshots of things long gone, things we loved and cherished. [Thingslong gone like my youth, my hair…]
Vintage Photo lab