A new photo from the Powerhouse Museum every day
I thought you might like us to start blogging about the old cameras we have in the collection starting with this one. It comes from the Jock Leate collection that we acquired in 2004. This is a Bessa 66 folding camera made by Voigtlander, 1930 – 1940.
Our Curator Geoff Barker writes:
35 mm film was first introduced for Edison’s Kinetograph film but was not of sufficient quality for still film until the early 1900s. Another factor which limited the uptake of 35 mm film was the competition from Kodak’s multitude of film sizes. It was not until the 1930′s that this smaller film size started to become a popular and it was from this time that 35mm cameras began to dominate the market.
A number of camera manufacturers had attempted to market the format but it was not until 1923 and the introduction of the ‘Leica’ camera that 35 mm challenged other larger film sizes. This success was due to the high design, construction and lens qualities of the ‘Leica’ which allowed quality enlargements to be made from the small 35 mm negatives. In 1934 Kodak produced its first 35 mm camera, the ‘Retina’ and in 1936 the International Radio Corporation made the ‘Argus model A’ camera the first to be mass-produced in the U. S. A. After the Second World War Japanese manufactures started producing quality 35 mm cameras which became the de-facto standard for film negatives throughout the rest of the century.
The ‘Bessa I’ produced from 1931-1949 is a scale focusing camera which means you guesstimate the distance to your subject. It came with four lens options of increasing quality: Voigtar, Vaskar, Skopar, and the Color Skopar. There is no sophisticated winding mechanism on this camera. You simply wind the film until the next backing paper mark appears through the red window on the back of the camera.
Gift of Valda Leate in memory of Jock, 2004.
Photography by Chris Brothers
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