Film Photography

People in the early 1950s bearing cameras

Among the Kodachromes from my wife’s family were a few photographs of people and their cameras. What’s great about them is that they are all common cameras to collectors today, about 70 years later!

Here’s a young woman posing with a deer, an Argus Seventy-Five around her neck. This is a box camera with a TLR-style peer-down viewfinder. It takes 620 film. They were made by the bazillions and you can buy them used for under $10 today. I’ve never owned one, but fellow collector Mark O’Brien did some very nice work with his; see it here.

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This stock-straight fellow has a Kodak Brownie Hawkeye dangling off his hand. This is another extremely common camera from this era. It, too, takes 620 film. I owned one for a while and made some photos with it on Route 66; see them here.

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Finally, this photo is both at the wrong angle and too shadowy to tell what cameras these women are using. Based on size, I’m guessing they are using 35mm cameras, perhaps something like a Kodak Pony. The bespectacled woman on the left even has her leather “ever-ready case” on her camera.

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I wasn’t alive when these cameras were new. My whole life they’ve been widely available at yard sales, in thrift shops, and (lately) online for next to nothing. But at one time, they were the kinds of cameras people bought brand new to record their memories!

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14 thoughts on “People in the early 1950s bearing cameras

    • Thanks! It was fun to find these in the stack of slides. These cameras have always been “old junk gear” in my lifetime so it’s fun to see them as something still in active use.

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  1. Andy Umbo says:

    Plus One! I love this….when I used to ask “old people” about the cameras they owned, back when I was in my twenties; I was always amazed that there was a pretty big contingent that bought decent cameras, somewhere between “rank amateur” and “professional”. My Mom was one, she always wanted to have better than just a cheap camera, and also owned “sky filters” and other paraphernalia!

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    • Seems like in the 50s and 60s it was crystal clear where the line was between amateur and above-amateur cameras. Started to deteriorate in the 70s and by the 80s/90s you could buy Nikon point-and-shoot cameras that were pure crap.

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  2. DougD says:

    Nice, I like the Brownie camera guy’s shoes. Wonder where that bridge is?

    I really like Vivian Maier’s self portraits where she includes her Rolleiflex, somehow it makes the photo.

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  3. retrocrank says:

    People appropriately dressed in reasonable physical condition and no automobiles to be seen anywhere. Beautifully captured on quality film by cameras that were good enough to transmit the memory to film and future. Such civility.

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      • Dan Cluley says:

        Thanks. I just spent 5 minutes mumbling lyrics to myself until I finally got to the title. :)

        I think my Mom’s favorite camera is still the Brownie Hawkeye she had in the ’50s. It met its demise on the sidewalk about 1960.

        I’ve used a couple of different Argus 75s. Kind of fun (especially with flashbulbs) if your expectations aren’t too high.

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    • If only my blog had that much influence! Actually, if it did I’d buy up stocks of a whole bunch of cameras, mention them on my blog and then reap the profits through reselling them!

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