Cameras are not just functioning things; a few have also gained iconic – even mythological – status. This has been either because of those who used them, the historic events they captured, their giant technological leaps or simply downright beautiful design. Everyone will have an opinion about their favourite camera, but here’s the ones we think make the grade.
Bullet Proof… Literally
First introduced in 1959, the Nikon F was partially responsible for the all conquering rise of the SLR and featured elements that stayed with the Nikon brand for the next fifty years. It was legendary for its robustness and therefore unsurprisingly favoured by war photographers and photojournalists around the world. This particular F was also responsible for saving Don McCullin’s life. Whilst working in Cambodia in 1970, an AK47 round was deftly deflected away from McCullin’s head by the cameras body.
Now, Now, Now!
In a climate of instant gratification, the Polaroid no longer holds the capacity to amaze that it once did. But it was a truly revolutionary idea: instant photographic records of the moment before the moment has even passed. The first Polaroid, Model 95, appeared in 1948. And just under twenty years later, in1965, the Model 20 Swinger, aimed purely at the domestic market, was launched. It remains one of the best selling cameras of all time.
Tripping all the Way to the Eighties
The Olympus Trip 35 was a ground-breaking point and shoot which sold over ten million units. Although aimed at the ‘average user’ wanting decent holiday snaps, (hence the name Trip), it was a little camera that was capable of getting great results. Battery-less, thanks to a solar powered light meter, it was simple to use and small and tough enough to easily carry around. The Trip 35 set the bench mark for nearly twenty years – before Olympus finally ceased production in 1984.
From Here to Eternity…
Nokia’s journey into the world of cameras started with the Nokia 7650 back in 2002. Jump forward ten years and the glowingly received PureView 808 continues the ground breaking trend. The astonishing 41mp camera has grabbed all the headlines – with both phone and camera geeks! Whichever way you look at it, this is a camera that has caused people to sit up and take notice and could genuinely spell the end of the point-and-shoot market.
Medium Format Perfection
Although Hasselblad began life in Sweden in 1841 it wasn’t until the 1960s that the company became a household name amongst the world’s top photographers. Having gained a reputation for their aerial cameras with the Swedish Air Force during WWII, it was to Hasselblad that NASA turned when they needed cameras aboard their 1962 space flights. Funding from NASA was then directly responsible for the world’s first motor-drive on a stills camera. And as if that wasn’t glamorous enough, the top studio photographers of the 60s soon made the Hasselblad their camera of choice.
The Red Dot
No list of iconic cameras is complete without a Leica. In 1925 the Leica I began the 35mm revolution and is therefore also widely regarded as the ‘godfather’ of photojournalism. Above is the classic M3, which was first introduced in 1954. The list of Leica users is almost a who’s who of 20th century photography: Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, W Eugene Smith, Garry Winogrand, Philip Jones Griffiths, Leonard Freed… Quite simply legendary.
That’s our amazing selection of iconic cameras, but what about yours? We’d love to know if you think there are others that deserve a place in our hall of fame.
Updated October 1, 2015 7:39 am