I dig the convergence of technology and time here in one brief second, now extended to the world and infinity. Here’s a snapshot of one of our modern photographic ancestors I modified with the amazing ToonPaint iPhone app, after shooting with Hipstamtic (a modern-retro simulator, no less). I found the camera at a sweet vintage shop called “Ideas” on Burke Street, Winston-Salem, NC. Original here.
There’s a lot to appreciate about old cameras. I think they’re an art form unto themselves, having to achieve a goal (photography) in a certain way (conveniently, effectively), with a certain set of rules (workable by human hands). The more I explore photography, the more I’m drawn to these classic designs as a way of connecting with history.
Collecting Classic Cameras = Cool
I left the above comment on Down The Road, a blog by Jim Grey in Indiana. He did an excellent post earlier this year on why he collects vintage cameras, and I re-read it again today. Since that time, I’ve taken the above photo, and have become even more obsessed with photographic shooting techniques, cameras, iPhoneography, photo apps, artists… the list goes on. I say even more obsessed, because I was already far gone in the first place. Here’s what Jim says in return:
These classic designs are absolutely a link to history. Imagining what the world was like at the time one of my old cameras was new is part of what makes me collect!
I like the idea that mechanics, functionality and design all come together in these devices from the past, each of which were the height of technology at some point, and that we can still appreciate them today. And even now, as I’ve pretty much ditched my point-and-shoot camera for my iPhone, the trend continues. I view these vestiges with respect and fascination.
What do you think? Ever owned or operated a vintage camera? Do you collect any vintage gear such as these, vintage suitcases, or any other type of antique? Let us hear from you in the comments!
- Is phoneography the future of photography? (itechtunes.com)
- Sixth-Gen iPhone May Get Full HD Resolution Front Camera, Slim To 7.9mm (iphone5newsblog.com)
- 5 iPhone cases for the vintage camera aficionados (digitaltrends.com)
- Vacation’s Vision, Via Hipstamatic (rsmithing.com)
- Vintage cameras get new life from Ilott Vintage (digitaltrends.com)
- With a Nod to Cartier-Bresson… (savorystew.wordpress.com)
- Camera Collecting (popcornonthestove.com)
- Something Cool We Saw Online: Vintage Docks (esquire.com)
On hearing of Kodak’s bankruptcy recently, I’m nostalgic, as I’m sure many of us are. I easily remember the excitement of discovering photography for the first time as a child and seeing the Kodak logo everywhere, from film, to cameras, to the envelopes my prints were mailed back to me in (remember “sending off” or “dropping off” your film?). This is best summarized for me now by remembering Kodak’s Disc camera.
What’s a Kodak Disc?
For their time, the Kodak Disc cameras were very innovative. It could easily slide in your pocket, came with a built-in flash, and even the film was compact. Sure the picture quality wasn’t great, but for the ease of use and relative affordability, it was a decent experience. Snapshots of life as a kid for me came through the lens of this camera, and I’m intrigued by the parallels of our gadget-obsessed consumer society. I still have prints from my Disc camera, and as I record HD video with my phone today, I wonder what 20 years from now will make us regard even this activity as primitive.
Says Capt. Kodak:
Manufactured from 1982 to 1989 by Eastman Kodak Co. When introduced, they made a big splash—in less than 10 years, they were gone. They featured a 15 exposure flat “disc” of film using new film technology to get acceptable images from it 8x10mm negative size. Some of this film technology was later introduced into the 35mm line of films making them even sharper and producing better images on a bigger negative. Ironically, that improvement and Kodak’s own introduction of inexpensive 35mm cameras may have led to the Disc camera’s demise.
Back when I rocked the iPhone 4 bumper, my swag was enhanced by this awesome Kodak Disc iPhone skin. The symbolic convergence of technology and art through photography on so many levels with this simple decal is so poignant to me. Though no longer available from this manufacturer (another similarity with the actual camera), I truly appreciate how this is a tribute to digital ancestry in consumer electronics and photography. Like the gadget that inspired it, this decal goes along with you in your pocket, attached to your camera that also makes phone calls, sends SMS messages, surfs the Internet, is your GPS, Yellow Pages, day planner, entertainment hub… um, while fun, the Disc didn’t do all that.
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Sure, I love my iPhone and applications like Hipstamatic for their high-quality and instant gratification. Yet it’s so interesting to me how nostalgia in the form of apps like Hipstamatic or digital photo booths is enjoying popularity now. And the Disc’s portability and ease of use can’t help but come to mind these days when I’m whipping out the iPhone for some snapshots with a retro-camera app.
I also love the ease and fun of social networks like Instagram and management tools like Flickr for making sharing our snapshots so easy and ubiquitous. In fact, I fully credit Instagram for reigniting my own interest in photography these days — which happen to be directly traceable to the days when I was posing my Star Wars action figures for some action shots with my trusty Kodak Disc.
What do you think? Are you sad to see Kodak’s demise? Did you or anyone you know ever work for Kodak? Do you use any Kodak products today (paper, digital, etc.) What lessons are there to be gained by the fall of a once-great innovating company? Let us hear from you in the comments!
Photo Credit: Kodak 4000 Disc Camera, by Capt. Kodak
- A Thousand Words (Kodak’s official blog)
- The Times of Kodak’s Life (technologizer.com)
- A Final Kodak Moment? (stuffem.wordpress.com)
- Remembering the 1980s Kodak Disc Camera (disccameras.wordpress.com)
- Kodak’s application for bankruptcy protection and one of their less successful products (Thoroughly Good Blog)