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5 Most Popular Cameras of the Past

By Katy Sommerfield

In today’s world, cameras are everywhere. They’re in our pockets, on traffic lights, in grocery stores, and millions of other places. Cameras are essential to our modern lives, but can you imagine a time when cameras were nonexistent? Only 200 years ago, cameras were not yet invented, and it wasn’t until right before the turn of the century that cameras became a commercial product. 

So after cameras came into being, what were the most popular models? Out of each decade, many models came out and wowed the public, but which ones made lasting impressions?

Let’s check out some of the most popular cameras of the 1920s to the 1960s to get an idea of what features were desirable to people of the past. 


The 1920s - Vest Pocket Autographic Kodak

The 1920s produced cameras that were more evolved than their box-shaped, wooden predecessors. Cameras were being made with metal bodies and casings, and out of a desire to make them more compact and travel-friendly, folding cameras became popular. The Vest Pocket Autographic Kodak camera went beyond the folding mechanism - it was much smaller compared to folding models, and could even fit in our shirt pocket!

The 1930s - Kodak 616 Junior

By the 1930s, almost everyone owned a camera, and photography became a popular pastime, for those who could afford lots of film. In this decade, the 35mm camera came onto the scene. The Kodak 616 Junior was one of Kodak’s most widely used cameras of the time, due to its quality and lower price. 

The 1940s- Kodak 35

During the 1940s, camera development stalled due to the financial impacts of World War II. However, stylistic changes were made to many models. A black-bodied camera was preferred for its sleek look, and 35mm cameras were becoming the most popular model. The Kodak 35 camera was the first US-produced Kodak brand 35mm camera and was notable for its divergence from the preferred style of the day, having a chrome and black body instead of all black. 

The 1950s - Kodak Brownie

The 1950s was the last era that the folding camera was widely produced, and when the non-folding compact camera took over. Thousands of smaller camera models were produced, all very similar in quality and style. One of these models was the Kodak Brownie, manufactured in England. It was a rounder model that provided an easier grip, and the quality of the photographs taken on this camera was particularly good. 

The 1960s - Canon Demi

By the 1960s, the 35mm camera dominated the commercial market and replaced most formats. Only professionals held onto the 120 and 127 formats for their photographs. One of the most popular camera formats of the day Canon Demi, a 35mm half-frame camera. This model was particularly sleek and small, making it a desirable model at the time. 

After the 1960s, cameras began to evolve and color film became the predominant photography medium. Before the color revolution, though, these five cameras were some of the top cameras of their respective eras. 

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