Category Archives: collection

Cameras in the Cupboard #5

As I have mentioned before, my family, especially my mother’s side, always seemed to have had a camera on hand at family gatherings; birthdays, Christmas, picnics and the like. So I grew up thinking that having a camera and photographing family events was just what people did.

The first camera I remember is my father’s Kodak Brownie ‘C’.

A lot of the early photos of my immediate family were taken with this camera, it might even have taken the picture of my mother and father in the previous post.

I remember playing with the camera as a child (very carefully and under supervision, of course). I was fascinated by the dim images in the viewing screens. Because the camera took 6cmx9cm negatives  on 620 film, it could take an image in either portrait or landscape format and had a viewing screen for each one (the two little portholes above the lens). It was virtually impossible to make out any detail unless the subject was bathed in bright sunlight.

This camera is the start of my photographic story. I took my first photo with this corroded old piece of family history. And it was the first camera to take a photograph of me.

Kodak made the Brownie ‘C’ from 1946 to 1957. In 1953 the design of the front plate changed slightly, making my father’s camera a pre-1953 model. In fact, judging from some of the photos, he certainly owned it in 1949, so it is an earlier model. It still has its original canvas carry case, although the strap has broken.

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Cameras in the Cupboard #3

My First Camera

Kodak Instamatic 25

The Kodak Instamatic 25 was produced between 1966 and 1972. I received mine as a Christmas present from my parents in 1967. I would like to think that mum and dad were trying to nurture my budding photographic talent, but I think dad was just tired of me ‘borrowing’ his box Brownie when he wasn’t looking and using all his film.

It came in a box with a plastic lid (not unlike a shirt box) along with the strap (not attached to the body), a film cartridge (126 format), a flash cube, an extender to raise the flash cube above the camera and a small instruction book.

It has two shutter speeds: full sun and shade/flash. Apart from the film advance, the only other control is the shutter release.

With prints

I put a lot of films through this camera, I think I still have them all. It is hard to explain to people of the current generation, but cameras weren’t that common in the ’60s and ’70s. Very few of my friends families had cameras, and I don’t think any of my close friends did.

I consider myself to be very fortunate to have been given a camera so early and to have had a chance to find out how much I liked making pictures.

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Cameras in the Cupboard #2

Zorki 4

The second in this series of cameras in my cupboard is a Russian Soviet Zorki 4. It is another purchase; in fact it was the first item I ever won in an eBay auction.

The Zorki was made by the KMZ factory in a suburb of Moscow. The factory began producing cameras heavily based on pre-war Leicas just after the Second World War. The Zorki 4 was made from 1956 to 1973 and more than 1.7 million were produced, according to the Guide to Russian and Soviet Cameras by J. L Princelle.

From what I can work out, my camera was produced somewhere in the late 1960s. It is a classic rangefinder with a few quirks. It’s heavy and solid, made out of serious metal, not plastic. The shutter and the shutter speed dial are interconnected, so you have to cock the shutter before setting the shutter speed.

The old Zorki has had quite a few films through it over the years but it is still in good working order. There are a few wear marks on the body and a scuff on the front lens element but apart from that all is good.

Reviewers have claimed that the images from the Zorki and the other Russian Leica copy, the FED, were as good as an image from a Leica.

And the Zorki has the added advantage of a Leica-compatible screw mount lens, so there is no reason why you can’t put a Summicron on the front of it.

I can’t afford a genuine pre-war Leica, but a Zorki isn’t a bad substitute.


A work colleague read this post and requested that I change the word ‘Russian’ to Soviet’. His reasoning is that the entire production run of the Zorki 4 was produced under the Soviet regime and isn’t exclusively Russian. And as Mikhail comes from Russia, who am I to disagree?

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Cameras in the Cupboard #1

Let me be clear about this. I am not a collector. I just happen to have one or two cameras that aren’t currently being used. So, OK, maybe more than one or two.

Most of these have just turned up over the years, family members have handed over a few because they know I like cameras and stuff. Some I have owned and kept when they were no longer used. Unfortunately, some of the ones I wished I still had were traded in when I upgraded. More about those in later posts in this series.

Some I have been fascinated with and bought. The first camera in this series is my most recent purchase: a 1936 Kodak Bullet.

This simple little camera is made of Bakelite and  features Art Deco design. The range finder is two shaped pieces of metal that fold flat and the shutter is a simple lever.

What made this one especially interesting to me is that it was made in Canada. The reason being at the time Canada was a part of the British Commonwealth and the camera could be imported into Australia without the duties imposed on cameras made in the USA.

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