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Box camera: Wikis


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A classic box camera.

The box camera is, with the exception of the pin hole camera, a camera in its simplest form. The form of the classic box camera is no more than a cardboard or plastic box with a lens in one end and film at the other. A simple box camera has only a single element meniscus Focus free lens and usually lacks control of aperture and shutter speeds. This makes them suitable for daylight photography of medium distance, static subjects only -- snapshots, essentially. During the type's commercial life span, box cameras with photographic flash, shutter and aperture adjustment were introduced, allowing indoor photos. Box cameras were not a very good source of photography



The idea of the box camera was created by the French inventor Nicéphore Niépce. He was known for his photographic experiments. With the help of Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre they were able to create the camera to expand the popularity of photgraphy. Soon After Niépce's and Daguerre's new advancements to the box camera many more photographers decided to do their own "photographic experiments" and created their on cameras based on the original box camera. Niépce's created one of the first box cameras during the 1820s.[1]


Box cameras are among the original photographic instruments. Over the decades between the 1720s and 1820s many experiments had been made with the light sensitivity of silver halide crystals, and being able to fix the image without it fading away instantly upon exposure to sunlight. Nicéphore Niépce took the first permanent photograph using a box camera in 1826 and the exposure lasted all day.[2] Henry Fox Talbot was another pioneer who used box cameras. His early experiments with "mousetrap" cameras are credited with the first photographs on paper.[3][4]


The box camera was initally created to start popularity for photography. Photography was still a very new idea in the mid 1800s and a product needed to be created to persuade the public of the potential for this new art. The box camera became the first consumer camera at the end of the 19th century. In 1900, when a Yale plate box camera cost $2 and a Kodak rollfilm box only $1 the industry sought new customers for its huge production of these simpler cameras.[5] Today those prices would be $52.90 for the Yale Plate and $26.54 for the Kodak rollfilm according to

Typical box cameras

In the UK:

  • Ensign cameras, by Houghton Butcher (examples)

Other box cameras

'Le Phoebus 1870

Etienne Carjat (1828–1906) another French photographer created "le Phobus'" around the late 1870s. It was a simple mahogany box camera. It needed no formal shutter. The leather lenscap was removed and replaced for the exposure of light.[6]

Pocket Kodak 1895–1896

Pocket Kodaks were small (2 and 3/16 x 3 x 4 inches) and lightweight (6 ounces), and took roughly 2 inch exposures on 102 size rollfilm. This camera had a new feature, a small view box that told how many exposures of film were left. They were first available in 1895 with either black or red leather covering.[7]

le Papillon 1905–1908

Meaning "the butterfly," le Papillon was a small French stereo camera which made 45mm x 107mm stereoscopic images on glass plates in single plateholders.[8]

No. 00 Cartridge Premo Camera, 1916–1922

The No. 00 Cartridge Premo was Kodak's smallest box camera ever. It was only 2½ inches tall. It uses a simple rotary shutter with meniscus lens, and does not have a viewfinder. The photographer must use the leatherette covering to attempt to see the subject of the photograph.[9]


  1. ^ "Box Camera". 
  2. ^ Camera Lenses: From Box Camera to Digital By: Gregory Hallock Smith
  3. ^ [1] Time Line of Historic Cameras
  4. ^ [2]UK National Media Museum
  5. ^ "Boxes for Beginners". 
  6. ^ "Le Phoebus". 
  7. ^ "Pocket Kodak". 
  8. ^ "le Papillon". 
  9. ^ "Cartridge Premo". 

See also

  • A toy camera is a simple, inexpensive box camera that uses film. The body, and sometimes the lens, is made of plastic

External links



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