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Cameras that have a mirror placed at a 45 degree angle to the optical path to correct image orientation, which can be tracked back to the camera obscura. During the 1890s the reflex camera was reintroduced, designed with a mirror in front of the focal plane, and required a hinged mechanism to swing it out of the way during exposure. This complex design used the same lens to compose and take images.

Premograph ca. 1907

Eastman Kodak Company, Rochester, New York.

In 1907 the Premograoh bought reflex viewing to amateur photographers. A reflecting viewer permitted the operator to see, in advance, the image right side up, as it would be captured. The box SLR camera featured an automatic lens cover that opened when a picture was being taken and closed as the lens retracted once the picture had been taken. Twelve exposures of 31/4 x 41/4 inches came in the Premo film pack, which allowed individual films to be removed for processing before the entire pack was used.

Delta Reflex ca. 1910

J. F. Shew & Company, London, England.

The single-lens reflex hand camera became popular with serious photographers in the early 1900’s and remained so in the decades to come. Most were similar to the Delta Reflex 31/4 x 41/4 inch revolving black model made by J. F. Shew of London in 1909. To sight the image from the lens a tall leather viewing hood had to be unfolded. The image was reflected by an angled mirror onto a ground glass screen. This meant the photographer could adjust the rack-and-pinion focus for the sharpest image.

A Brief History of Cameras

Minex Tropical ca. 1920

Adams & Company of London built cameras for individuals for whom price was no object. Only the finest of materials were used to make their 120 Minex Tropical single-lens reflex folding cameras. The camera had polished teakwood bodies with lacquered brass fittings and the bellows and viewing hood of Russian leather. When not in use the Taylor-Hobson Cooke Aviar 51/4 inch f/4.5 lens in the leather covered mounting board had a teak and brass flip up door for protection. The lens and bellows could travel beyond the edge of the baseboard for telephoto work as the brass focus racks had three-inch extensions. The Minex had a 1/1000 second focal-plane shutter therefore capturing fast action was easy.


Adams & Company Ltd., London, England.


ca. 1936 Curt Bentzin, Gรถrlitz, Germany. In 1935 the Primaflex was introduced and manufactured by Curt Bentzin in Gรถrlitz, Germany. It was a high quality 6 x 6 cm single lens reflex camera anticipating the Hasselblad, which was introduced twelve years later. It is said that young Victor Hasselblad was familiar with the Curt Bentzin Company early in his career when he was sent to Dresden to learn about the photo business. The Primarflex used No. 120 roll film and like the Hasselblad, the Primarflex had a compact square box shape.

Hasselblad 1600F 1948

Victor Hasselblad AB, Göteborg, Sweden.

During World War II a camera was found in a wrecked German airplane. The Royal Swedish Air Force asked inventor Victor Hasselblad if he could make an aerial camera like the one they had found. He answered, “Well, not exactly. I can do better.” In 1948 the resulting camera was eventually officially introduced as the Hasselblad 1600F. All Hasselblad cameras have been manufactured by Victor Hasselblad Aktiebolag, Göteborg, Sweden. Hasselblad’s 1600F was near perfection in his effort to produce the “ideal camera” for the professional photographer. It was the first camera designed with a modular concept; his single-lens reflex design was farsighted. The central camera body could accept

Mamiya RB 67 Pro S

ca. 1970 Mamiya Camera Company, Tokyo, Japan. In 1970 the Mamiya Camera Company, Tokyo, introduced the Mamiya RB 67 Pro S. It appeared similar to, but was larger than, conventional medium formal SLRs in the 6cm format. The camera’s 6 x 7 cm format used the No. 120 roll film and was often referred to as the “ideal format” because it had the correct proportions to enlarge to 8 x 10 inches. The RB 67 differed from other similar cameras in appearance, e.g. a Pentax, which resembled a very large 35mm camera. The “RB” designation means the camera had a revolving back and could be used in either horizontal or vertical orientation.