Cameras are ubiquitous now; pretty much everyone can afford a half-decent model these days and even if you’re not especially enthusiastic about photography you’ll have a serviceable camera built into your phone.
Most of the cameras we see look pretty much the same, too, although the specialist ones developed and made by scientific instrument companies like Andor.com might be something of a departure from the usual form! There’s been some strange models made over the years, though, so let’s take a look at some of the more outlandish – and just plain silly – cameras that have popped up.
The Biggest Camera In The World
The photographer who developed and perfected flash photography at the end of the 19th century, George R Lawrence, also built the world’s largest camera in 1900.
The huge camera was built to take a photo of the Alton Limited locomotive train. In those days, if you wanted a huge photo, you needed a huge camera and at 640kg and using a 4.5-foot by 8-foot glass plate, this one didn’t disappoint.
The Williamson Aeroplane Camera
This British camera was brought out in 1915 and it was designed to take aerial photos. It was fixed to the base of a plane and the propeller at the front of the camera (yes, a camera with a propeller!) was turned by the wind and then turned the gears inside the camera to move the film roll on.
The Tessina Camera
Italian camera maker Concava started thinking small in 1956 when it introduced a camera diminutive enough to be worn on the wrist. The tiny camera accepted 35mm film that had to be loaded into it using special cassettes.
The Doryu 2-16
The Italians weren’t the only camera makers thinking outside the box in the mid-1950s; Japanese company Doryu made pistol-shaped snappers between 1954 and 1956! The Doryu 2-16 weighed 582g and was used for focal lengths of less than 30mm. The camera’s appearance wasn’t the only thing that made it resemble a gun – it used magnesium flash cartridges (kept in a magazine like bullets) that often went off with a bang!
The Echo-8 and Camera-Lite
This multi-tasking device incorporated a fully-functional camera into a fully-functional cigarette lighter. Made by Suzuki in 1951, the body of the lighter featured a discreet hole that contained a 17mm lens.
The Game Boy Camera
This add-on fitted into the game cartridge slot and turned the machine into what can only be described as an, ahem, indifferent sort of black-and-white camera.
Even though the photos weren’t that great, the kids still had fun and some got their first taste of developing and printing their own photos.
The Summa Report
Again, the Italians in the 1950s… This camera, made by Tiranti, was handed out to reporters in the mid-1950s. It didn’t go over too well, though, because it featured several components responsible for just one action – focusing, viewing and then taking the snap. It was too fiddly for time-pressed journalists which is probably why this camera is an interesting (if somewhat jumbled) footnote.