In an era of incredible DSLR camera technology with all the different modes to shoot in.  All the bells and whistles of  editing and image enhancing camera settings. The various choices of full frame sensor or cropped sensors not to mention the myriad of lens choices. With all these modern features it is easy to lose sight of how far we have come in such a short time.  Recently on a family trip to my wife’s parents home I had a chance to browse the cameras collected by my Father in Law through a life of photography.  All these photos were shot with Rembrandt lighting with a single umbrella key light using a reflector at frame right for fill light and a back light against the white window blinds to add rim light for contrast.  I eliminated all other lights so my shutter speeds were slow but I used my tripod and boosted the exposure of the shots by adding EV +1.  I shot in aperture priority mode because I wanted to nail the depth of field.


The first gem I discovered is a version of a box camera first produced in 1900 at the turn of the century. The specific model  below was introduced in 1946.


Kodak Brownie six 20 model D

Image Copyright Rebel Optics Photography

The Brownie a box roll film camera used 620 size film, was manufactured in the UK and had a Meniscus f/11 lens at 100mm focal length, with portrait lens. It’s shutter was a single blade style and a 2pin flash contact.  These camera’s were such well made workhorse’s that they still have a cult following of hobbyists that keep them in use.  I have no doubt that if I could find film for this camera I would be out taking photos with it and building a dark room to develop the film.  Loads of fun.

Polaroid Land Camera  80-A aka “highlander”

The next gem I grab is the Polaroid Land camera 80-A model.  First released in 1957 it featured Polaroids own exposure value system EV numbers to correspond to the f stop values for aperture size.  Attached to this camera is a flash with diffuser and at some point it was hooked up to an off camera lighting system. Pretty advanced stuff for 1957. The lens pops out on a hinge system and just looks cool.  I also suspect that this camera would fire off shots if I could find film for it.


Polaroid “highlander”  80-A

Image copyright Rebel Optics Photography

Keystone Everflash 20

The Keystone Everflash 20 is an instant loading 126 film size camera. Featuring a built in flash powered by 2 AA batteries which also power the electronic eye light meter that helps achieve correct exposure. It has a 40mm Keytar lens with an f stop of 5.6.  This thing also has a low light warning signal pretty advanced stuff for a camera Manufactured around 1978.     This camera has a roll of undeveloped film with 7 shots on it. Next time I am over I may pop batteries in this thing and see if I can finish the roll and develop it. 😉 might find a keeper.


Keystone Everflash 20

Image copyright Rebel Optics Photography

Kodak Instamatic X-15F

This next camera a marvel of compact size in production from 1976- 1988 was also a 126 film size camera. It featured a lens with f stop 11 and 43 mm focal length. The shutter was a mechanical leaf with speeds of 1/45sec and 1/90sec.  The viewfinder is optical finder with bright frame and the camera featured a flipflash connector. This was a popular point and shoot camera with a long production run.


Kodak Instamatic X-15F

Image copyright Rebel Optics Photography

Polaroid 600 series “coolcam”

     No vintage camera collection would be complete without one of these 600 series camera’s.  These were very popular in the 1980’s and 90’s. They used film packs with integral batteries producing prints that were 3.1 inches square. The film took about 3 mins to develop at 70 deg F.  The film had an ISO rating of 640.  Some of these cameras had sonar autofocus and glass lenses but most had plastic lenses and a fixed focus around 4 feet.  Many included a close up lens that was plastic and could be slid into the camera.  Many small production runs were done as limited edition marketing versions such as barbie or spice girls and other corporate entities making these cameras highly collectible due to their rarity.  Self developing film was an interesting innovation.


After many years of film and 35mm film photography it is amazing how many interesting innovations the camera has undergone on our way to the modern DSLR cameras of today.   I can see the appeal of film and the joy of not knowing what you shot until you can have it developed. It is this anticipation that keeps many photographers engaged in the 35mm film style. Although I will be Digital most of the time I do hope to explore some 35mm film photography in the future.  I already have an EF lens that will work on an old 35mm camera body if I can find one.