Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Photography Directories, 126 Film SLR etc...

Popular Photography published a yearly special issue about currently available photo equipment.  For all I know they may still do so, however my interest is in the ones from the film era. This one is from 1955. Notice that the man is holding some kind of stereo camera.

I like to find issues of old photography magazines that have lot of information about the cameras that were out at the time the magazine was published.  Usually such issues would come out in December.  I tend to think that I may be one of the few people who are interested in these issues since I am almost always the only person making a bid for one on Ebay. I would guess that some of the issue may be that they often seem to be over-priced.  It takes some patience to find auctions where the prices are more reasonable.  I do find it funny that some dealers on Ebay will keep listing the same item for an unrealistic price over and over again.  I would think that after a while they would get the idea that nobody wants to pay that price.  I suppose this is like the stuff you see setting in an antique store for an unrealistic price every time you go in for what seems like years.

Anyway I find a lot that is interesting to me in these old magazines.  Here is a PDF sample of a page from the 1955 Photography Directory. I particularly find it interesting to see what cameras cost at that time and what options were available for the camera.  Along with the camera listing there are listings for the leading camera accessories of the day.  Here is a PDF file showing some of the listings for flash photography in this time before electronic flash.

Recently I got four Photography Directories from the 1970's for around $12.  The first one is from 1973 and the last is from 1979.  One thing I noticed is how the listings for 126 film cameras decreased during the 1970's.  In 1973 there were two lisings for a SLR using 126 film.  The first was from Kodak.

The second is from Ricoh. 

I imagine these were the nicest 126 cameras made.  I have never used 126 film so I don't know much about it.  I have heard that there were problems with the cartridge that made it impossible to keep the film flat.  And that this problem doomed the format with serious photographers.  With photographers who weren't so serious I would guess that 110 cameras hurt 126 film.  At least at the time I can remember a lot of the people that I knew who used 126 cameras getting 110 cameras instead. That process seems to be reflected in the listings in the camera directories.  By 1979 there are only a few 126 cameras and a lot of 110 cameras.  One of these cameras was the Minolta Zoom 110.

I have one of these and will post some more about it once I get around to taking some pictures with it.  It is a cool looking camera, however it probably points to at least some of what did 110 film in.  The Minolta 110 Zoom is actually bigger than my 35mm Olympus XA.  Actually if it bigger than several of my 35mm cameras.  It seems that once features like zoom lenses were added to 110 cameras that they lost whatever advantage they might have had in size.  So why use a format with reduced image size and quality when you could use a similar sized 35mm camera? 

So that is a little of what I find in these old magazines. 


  1. I had both 126 and 110 cameras when I grew up. The 110 camera was easier to tote along, which is probably why the format surged in popularity -- but the tiny negatives (and the crappy lens in the off-brand camera I had) led to grainy, noisy photos.

    1. I have a few rolls of 110 that was frozen that I plan to use this Spring. That will be my first experience with 110. I have read that modern emulsions are supposed to do better with the small film size. Still I would imagine that these days that 110 may be more trouble than it is worth for me.