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These, then, are the major tools of the photographer's game. But as this burgeoning hobby has developed there have also developed as many special items as there are pictures to take.
One of the most popular novelties is the subminiature—the cigarette-lighter-size camera. The Minox, best known of these, was also the first of the present crop. It was developed in 1937 by a Latvian named Walter Zapp and was used extensively by undercover agents on both sides during World War II. After the war it caught the public fancy as a gadget "for the man who has everything."
Despite their toylike size, however, the best subminiatures are workmanlike little cameras. There are now 13 makes on the market, ranging from a group at $9.95 through an Italian-made GaMi 16 at $297.50, which is larger than the Minox (it uses 16-mm. film) and has a coupled range view finder and a coupled, built-in light meter. For the more expensive of these cameras there is an array of Lilliputian accessories: the Minox, for example, is not only synchronized for flash, with shutter speeds from½ to 1/1000 second, but it also has built-in orange and green filters. There is a collapsible tripod the size of a pencil, a right-angle finder mirror that allows its user to shoot around corners (particularly apt for the jet-black Minox, called the Private Eye) and a very compact electronic flash unit, which weighs 24 ounces, as well as a B-C flash attachment.
Film for the subminiatures comes in a variety of lengths, from eight to 50 exposures per roll. Color transparencies can be projected with especially designed projectors or mounted for use in 35-mm. projectors. And the tiny negatives can be blown up to album-size prints. Grain is still a problem, but film manufacturers are working hard to produce a fine-grain film for them.
Then there is stereophotography, older than grandfather and still popular—250,000 stereo cameras are currently in use. Stereo has two lenses, which take two pictures of the same scene simultaneously to produce color transparencies, which can be mounted as slides and, when viewed through a stereo viewer, give realistic three-dimensional images. Among the best-sellers in the field are the Revere 33 ($174.50) and the Stereo Realist 1041 ($149.50). The color slides cost about 50% more than single-picture slides. Projectors, designed to throw a 3-D picture on a screen, cost $49.95 to $645 but do not as yet give an entirely satisfactory three-dimensional projection. The difficulty of projection is a main factor in keeping stereophotography in the novelty class.
When the Polaroid Land camera was introduced in 1948, dealers scoffed at the prospects of a picture-in-a-minute camera. Today any one of them will eat his words. There are 2 million Polaroid cameras now in use, and their sales last year—an estimated 500,000—were more than all German and Japanese medium-to top-quality imports combined. The tremendous public acceptance of the Polaroid Land principle of seeing the picture you just took—it is developed and printed simultaneously in the back of the camera in one minute—has given a tremendous boost to the trend toward automation in still cameras. It has proven that, for the general public, the fun of photography is in seeing the picture, not in taking it. Indeed, the new owner of a Polaroid finds that he possesses a sure-fire inspiration for a lively parlor game of competitive picture taking if he has a "wink light" attachment—Polaroid's fill-in light. Polaroid has also led the field in simplifying shutter-speed-and lens-opening settings into one figure: all you do is point the meter, read a figure and set it on the camera. New improvements have appeared almost every year since the camera was introduced: lighter cameras, faster shutters, coupled range finders, flash, projectable black-and-white film and faster films. Films for the Polaroid at 200 to 400 ASA have been as fast as any on the commercial market, but this fall Polaroid has introduced one with a speed of 3,200, together with a new electric-eye shutter device that can be clamped on the front of some Polaroid cameras. And even greater days are coming: a color film is being developed now which, when perfected, should raise the Polaroid Land camera to new heights of popularity with snapshot-takers everywhere.
And what else is in the gadget bag of the future? For one important thing, new improvements in lighting. Flash has already been simplified from a painful, blinding, finger-burning, sometimes explosive method of auxiliary light to a safe, sure, inexpensive process, available to every camera user. Stroboscopic flash, the superfast electronic device used until recently almost entirely by professionals, is becoming more and more the amateur's light source as its once cumbersome units grow lighter and more compact. The smallest strobe unit of all, the Braun Hobby F60 Pocket-Pak, was released in October. It is fully transistorized, and the thin 20-ounce power pack will slip into a man's inner jacket pocket. The flash head, which clips on a camera, is no larger than an exposure meter, yet it puts out as much light as units far larger. It costs $74.50.
Another change is due in exposure meters. Says Modern Photography, "Film speeds are now approaching the level where photography is possible under such dimly illuminated conditions that exposure meters cannot respond." The selenium cell, which has been used to measure light on meters since 1932, seems to be approaching its maximum range. And with film speeding up faster than meters, all of the manufacturers are searching for new, economical ways to measure the very dim light these films will still react to.
Accessories of all kinds are becoming more versatile, less expensive, more automatic. There are underwater still cameras that cost as little as $19.95 (the Mako Shark); projectors for color slides, such as the Audio-scope ($99.50), which include four-speed record players for appropriate background music; others, such as the Balomatic 500 ($149.50), which can change slides by automatic time cycle or by remote control; and home movies, a field as astonishing as the still-camera field, with turret lenses, zoom lenses, electric eyes, electric drive, that let the amateur movie " maker achieve almost Hollywoodlike results.
All this is quite a step from Kodak No. 1, which didn't even have a viewer. But the same principle of "you press the button, we do the rest" is still at work at the pinnacle which the upward-climbing amateur will be able to reach with this piece of equipment: take a Nikon F, with its fast f/2 lens and its single-lens reflex, instant-return mirror viewing; power it with a Nikon electric-motor-drive back ($219.50), which automatically advances the film and fires the shutter and allows for single exposures or rapid-fire bursts of two or more through a 36-exposure roll at the rate of three per second; top it off with a Nikkor zoom lens, which goes from 85 mm. to 250 mm., and a slip-on exposure meter which couples to the shutter speed and the diaphragm ($34.50)—and you have $1,178 worth of nearly automatic camera. This may seem a long way up from a $5.95 box, but the fact is that with either one you can have fun and take the kind of pictures you want the way you want to take them.