Guest Author Article Archive

The Eternal Nourishment of Optical and Mechanical Innovation

By Larry Gubas

When I was a reasonably young man, I came across beautifully made cameras from all sorts of manufacturers and I began to seriously contemplate an expensive purchase while I was in the military. Once, I found post-military employment and had a few dollars in my pocket, I began to look into photo magazines more seriously. These were the days of Eaton Lothrup and Jason Schneider’s work in the major photo magazines and Kalton Lahue’s small but complete work on the Retina cameras. Because of this influence and the quality of the older designs, I became hooked on the collection of Photographica of all sorts. Soon, I became enthralled with the incredibly comprehensive line of Zeiss Ikon cameras which were unmatched in range, variety and quality. I started to collect rangefinder cameras of all sorts and types but I always came back to the vast field of the Zeiss Ikon cameras.

The Nikon Rangefinder System - The Book

By Jonathan Eastland

That was the time when LIFE magazine photojournalists David Douglas Duncan and Horace Bristol, in transit through Tokyo en route to cover the war raging in Korea, were persuaded by a young Japanese stringer to visit a camera factory in the Shinagawa district of the city.

Out of the chaos and rubble of World War II, Nippon Kogaku Kogyo Kaisha - Japan Optical Company Ltd., - struggled to rebuild its manufacturing programme; it had once employed 23,000 workers in more than 20 factories. Now it was reduced to 2 and a mere 1400 employees.

Early Novoflex Reflex Housings

By Marc James Small

Reproflex side-by-side
with the Novoflex
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Karl Müller, Sr., founded a company in Memmingen in Bavaria in 1896 dedicated to the production of sheet film; this company is not believed to have survived to the Second World War. In 1948, he started over again, founding a small optical house under his son's name in 1948. By 1950, Karl Müller, Jr., had released reflex housings under the Novoflex brand name for both the Contax and Leica rangefinders. To these were added a well-built bellows attachment in 1951, a series of long lenses — made initially by Enna, then by Steinheil and, following that esteemed firm's demise in 1961, by Dr Staeble — in 1952, and the pistol-grip which made their "follow- focus" system an industry standard in 1955...

Ten Books For The Island

By Douglas St. Denny

Island View courtesy of
Island View courtesy of

Recently, on a slow message day in the online Internet Directory of Camera Collectors' forum, (IDCC ) someone asked, "What ten cameras would you choose to take with you if you were stranded on a desert island?"

I followed the thread without responding, all the while trying to make a list in my head of the cameras I would like to have with me as I waited for rescue. Other members took to the question with obvious gusto, and the lists of ten cameras started pouring into the forum. The first thing I noticed was that the lists were somewhat predictable. The Nikon collector chose Nikon cameras. The Kodak collector chose Kodak cameras. Some respondents chose cameras which were already in their collections, others picked from a fantasy "wish list" of rare and valuable cameras. Of course all the lists reflected very personal choices. A lively debate turned on the question of justifying this or that camera on one’s list.

Fifty-Five Years at Pee-king

By Fred Emmert

It came to me recently that I’ve spent the last 55 years of my life peeking at the world through the viewfinder of a camera. Now, one might think that this would make everything look very small, give me a very narrow look at life. But the contrary is true. Through photography, and the use of many cameras over the years, I have seen more and been more aware of what’s going on around me than I ever would have been otherwise. I find myself constantly looking for interesting subjects, unusual objects, strange or funny-looking people just so I can capture them photographically. To me, the world and all that lies within is one big photo opportunity.

The Ansco Memos

By Eaton S. Lothrop, Jr.

Original Ansco Memo
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It was the standardization of motion picture film at Thomas Edison's choice of a width of 35 mm. - that led to the introduction and ultimate proliferation of 35 mm still cameras. While the earliest of these made use of leftover lengths of cine film, from the movie industry, eventually the production of film for these still cameras became an end in itself. While the film used in the early cameras was standard - 35 mm Wide, either perforated or un perforated - the 35mm cameras that appeared in the nineteen teens and twenties were far from standard. It wasn't until the 1930s that they began to conform to many of the features introduced with the late comer Leica camera. Prior to that time, cameras used perforated, un perforated or even paper-backed film; non-standardized film cartridges/magazines; employed various negative formats and assumed a variety of shapes - some with vertical and others with horizontal orientation...

How Photographic Emulsions Work: The Inside Story

By Gregory Hallock Smith

In my book, Camera Lenses: From Box Camera to Digital, Chapter Two is entitled Films and Emulsions. What follows here is an expanded and augmented version of Section 2.5, How a Photographic Emulsion Works.

Many photographers do not clearly understand what happens inside a photographic emulsion when it is exposed to light. They do not know about latent images and related photographic effects. So here I give first a discussion of the formation of latent and developed images. This is followed by an explanation of reciprocity failure and some of its consequences.

The Books Not Abandoned

By Peter Dechert

Growing up into photography in the later 1930s was an exhilerating experience. This was a period at least as fundamental to the history of photography as today’s "digital revolution". Historians seem to gloss over those days now, but the new enthusiasms generated then have had a profound influence ever since.

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