Cameras in the '50s


Photo cameras saw major improvements in the 1950s. For the first time easy-to-use cameras with adjustable settings and a range of options were available for the average amateur or the budding professional. These cameras offered a number of innovative features and influenced the models that came after them. Various companies competed for the growing market of photography consumers in every demographic.

Kodak Brownie Cameras

  • The Kodak Brownie camera was introduced in 1952, and continued production through the '50s and '60s. The Brownie camera was small and simple to use. Film was relatively simple to load and a knob on the right side of the camera allowed the film to be moved through the gate. An included flash attachment could be connected to the camera for dark settings. This camera went through several different models and phases. It was especially popular in the teenage market.

Color Photography

  • Color photography became available to the average consumer in the 1950s, though it had been available to professionals in years previous. Popular brands such as Kodak, Agfa and Ilford produced color film and color cameras that could use it. These cameras provided other features that were necessary for the color photographer, such as brightness control and advanced focus settings. Color photography, however, was not for the everyday consumer as using it was fairly advanced and often required the use of a light meter for proper photography.

Instant Cameras

  • Both Polaroid and Kodak introduced instant cameras in the 1950s. These cameras came with film that was inserted into the camera one at a time. The cameras develop the film instantly, and you could pull it out of the back and have a fully developed photo. One of the most popular models was the Kodak Instamatic, though Polaroid cameras gained popularity throughout the 1950s, and became the most popular by the 1960s.

SLR Cameras

  • Single lens reflex cameras also saw their initial development in the 1950s, specifically by Japanese companies such as Nikon, Pentax and Olympus. A single lens reflex camera allows a great amount of flexibility for the professional or serious amateur because lenses can easily be switched out. The biggest advantage of the camera is it uses a series of images to reflect the lens image up to the viewfinder, so the image in the viewfinder is much more accurate than in other consumer cameras.

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