CMC someday #13, Ugly cameras.

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by tony_lockerbie, Nov 24, 2013.

  1. You know you have them, the ones that look like the southern end of of a north bound camel. The ones that you only take out after dark, and only a mother could love. Could be plain bad design or just battered, don't care...just show them here, along with a photo if they still work. If this thread doesn't throw up an Argus or two I will be disappointed!
    My offering is the Nikkorex, the one with the fixed 50mm 2.5 lens (it is a Nikkor though) and a leaf shutter. Rumour has it that this beast was built by Mamiya. Whoever it was should be somewhat ashamed, in fact Nikon were, because the Nikkorex does not appear on my Nikon family tree poster...not anywhere!
    Mine does work though, even the there you go.
    Here it is, if you are squeamish....look away.
  2. And a photo.
  3. Your Nikkorex doesn't look that different from my Minolta ER, which also still works. According to my Minolta 1928-1998 poster the ER came out in 1963. These cameras have a beauty all their own. The need for a selenium meter with a large surface area made many cameras look somewhat ungainly.
  4. Oh, Argus you say? Well, it just happens I do have a pet Argus, which I keep in ugly condition just for the hell of it. I bought it some years ago at a junk shop for a single dollar. A little recalibration of the rangefinder and limbering up and a spot of alcohol on the lens, and it works 100 percent, makes pretty nice pictures. I'd carry it more often if it had strap lugs I might just take the top off an put some on. What could it hurt?
    Accompanying it is what may be the worlds worst Super Ikonta. I think the shutter works, but aside from the cloudy lens and the badly worn paint, the bellows are full of holes. Not just a few, but every corner looks as if a mouse ate it. Perhaps it did. I think I paid 5 bucks for that one, probably too much.

    I could probably be talked into giving away the Zeiss to some Zeiss nut who has a set of bellows to spare. Never the Argus, though.
  5. Jeff, just looked up your Minolta...really a lot prettier than the Nikkorex...but still no swan. Checking my old McKeowns, I see that there was a Nikkorex that took normal Nikkor lenses and also one with that awful 43-86 Nikkor zoom affixed. McKeowns list them at the same value as a good Nikkormat FT...go figure.
    The 50mm 2.5 Nikkor seems to perform quite well though...very sharp.
  6. Matthew, thanks for the Argus...great patina...but rounded edges! It's almost attractive dare I say, and nothing looks more beat up than a beat up folder.
  7. As far as ugly the Contarex Bullseye is in the top ten in my opinion. Trouble is we all will have our opinions and some will contradict, we even disagree within ourselves.
    I'm normally very sensitive to the aesthetic qualities of cameras. Just cannot abide an ugly camera design. When the Canon T90 came out that was the turning point (downward) in modern design. The slightly melted plastic blob school of camera design makes me want to hurl.
    The pinnacle (for me) of clean, nearly perfect design was the original Olympus Pen F, not the FT mind you, that added a self timer lever that destroyed the very sooth front of that camera.
    I guess it is all very personal, and there is no perfect consensus on the subject.
  8. Tony,
    Actually Nikkorex looks really cool. You can market as a cool camera for cool people and sell it to hipsters for tons of money.
  9. The Kodak 35 rangefinder gives the appearance of having been patched together from an ill-matched assortment of spare parts, but I think it goes past ugly, and into the "lovable" category. It actually takes very good photographs.
  10. Kodak 35 sample:
  11. Tony,
    Think about working in the advertising department and having to try and sell these "cameras". How would you do it? Well Nikon basically said, forget about the body and look at the sharpness of the lens.
    Here is an ad from the April 1962 issue of Popular Photography.
    I did notice when looking for ads that this wasn't exactly a great design era. The metering cells were rather weak requiring a large service area. Hope was on the way. I noticed that Konica had come out with a cadmium-sulfide meter for their FS SLR. Through the lens meters would show up in a couple of years.
  12. Rick D, Actually the Kodak 35 RF was pretty much cobbled together in a moment. The folks at Kodak were shocked to find the Argus C3 was outselling their own 35mm camera. And so the RF was practically bolted on top of one. The higher price on the RF model ($10 more) meant they still didn't sell more then Argus.

    I don't like the results with the Anastigmat lenses on the earlier 35 RF, but the Anastar lens (Presumably the same as the Anastigmat but with Kodaks single hard coating) is pretty sharp at small apertures.

    I don't really have an ugly camera to add.....the Canomatic perhaps?
  13. Rick--
    That Kodak 35 looks like it was built by a committee, LOL!
    Kent in SD
  14. Here's my contribution. It's the camera that Rick's was based on. It doesn't get much better looking without the cobbled on rangefinder. Sorry, no pictures taken with it. I haven't gotten around to running a roll through it yet.
  15. Cory, your's is the 'low-end' model they made of the Kodak 35, but it still look pretty sleek with the black knobs and black viewfinder :)

    My contender for the ugliest (if not, the most awesome) camera:
    Simmon Brothers Omega 120
  16. OK, a brick for all to see. Not the most beautiful design and this one has had a rough life.
  17. For a while I thought that no 'brick' would make it, so thanks Charles! Rick, the Kodak 35's are also worthy contenders, and I have one that doesn't work...yours takes a nice picture.
    Funny, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder as I think that the Contarex looks quite magnificent, as does the Contax...and both are
    I have to agree that the T series Canon's are pretty bad, although the T90 is the best of them...and a great user as well, which is more than you can say about the poor Nikkorex.
    Marc, thanks for that link, interesting that even back then Nikon knew they had a to concentrate on the Nikkor lens, which is a good one.
  18. Thanks for the information on the Kodak 35!
    Another camera which looks like a weird combination of a box and a folder is the Dutch Venaret.
    This example needs a little cleaning-up but I will shoot a film with it, one day, mainly out of curiosity.
  19. Nippon Kogaku (now Nikon Corp.) disowned the Nikkorex cameras until recent years. Don't know about the 35, but the Nikkorex F was indeed made by Mamiya:
  20. I'm a bit lazy and busy about to fly away for a while, but I will mention that I also have Nikkorex F, which looks to be in pretty decent condition, but is nearly as ugly as the Nikkorex shown above, and has the added characteristic that, like most Nikkorexes (Niccorices if you're addicted to Latinizing), it does not work.
    I also have an Argus brick, which is suitably ugly, with plenty of wear and missing a piece of its jacket, but that seemed so easy that it would almost be cheating, so I figured I'd leave it to someone else. Charles Sumner's brick looks quite nice by comparison.
  21. Since I've already linked the two cameras in a previous post ( ), how could I do otherwise here than to present the Nikkorex's doppelganger, the Pentina?
    At least it has a Zeiss lens, this one is even interchangeable. ;)
  22. JDM, it was a trend in the mid 60-ies to make ugly camera like Pentina. They made few Zenits back then looked similarly...
  23. Since the Nikkorex seems to have the most votes so far, I thought I'd add another picture to fuel the fire. This one is a Nikkorex 35II. It also is among the ranks of the non-working samples. I think I might be able to get it going again if I can figure out why the wind lever doesn't cock the shutter fully. Haven't gotten up the gumption to open her up yet.
  24. " the Nikkorex's doppelganger, the Pentina"
    The Pentina may LOOK similar to a Nikkorex (and may be just as ugly), but its design is completely different. The body is a solid mainframe where all innards are attached to. To remove the body shell, all buttons and levers have to be removed, mostly with special tools. I have read that some desperate repairpersons decided to cut the body shell to open the camera.
  25. So much a matter of taste. I like the look of the Kodak 35 - in fact I might try and add one to my collection. I like Contarexes too - particularly the Super. Agree that the Argus and the Nikkorexes win no awards for beauty. The Pentina is unusual, but I think rather handsome. Certainly Pentacon had a design scheme and they generally stuck to it for all their products. I think most cameras with built in selenium meters tend towards ugliness.
  26. Winfried, I was referring primarily to the appearance, but there are far more similarities between the Nikkorex and the Pentina than just appearance - see my earlier linked post -
    both are efforts to "compete" with a perceived competition from leaf-shutter cameras such as the western Zeiss Contaflex, especially because of the flash synchronization problem with focal-plane shutters.
  27. Of course the Nikkorex had a porro finder instead of a prism, which adds to it's woes. Ever walked into a mine shaft for about 10 meters, turned and looked at the entrance...that's how the viewfinder looks.
    It might be just me JDM,but I find the Pentina quite attractive! Cory, the re designed meter does improve things a little.
  28. Yes, the actual mirror in the Pentina makes it rather nicer, once you can figure out how to re-animate it.
    For ugly, it's true that it is hard to beat some of the American cameras - here is a prewar Perfex - the original model, but without the add-on rangefinder. I don't see how this one is ever going to be brought back to life, however
  29. sorry, PRISM, of course, not "mirror"
  30. Argus Golden Shield based on Argus Matchmatic successors to the Argus C, and C-3. Camera deserves to be along side on the front bench seat with the driver of the 1958 Oldsmobile. The camera is both ugly and handsome according to who is looking at it. Shades of 1950's flamboyant excessive use of chromium!
  31. sample photo taken with Argus Golden Shield.
  32. Not all Nikkorex cameras are the same. I got this from the auction site a long time ago advertised as "having more dents than a '39 Hudson" and an erratic shutter. Yes it has dents but the shutter has always fired and with the correct exposure. It still works. I don't really classify it as ugly but it is a Nikkorex.
  33. Hmm - Tony, I'm always a bit reluctant these days to get into discussions on the ugliness of certain cameras, after several years ago almost starting WW3 in another Forum when I dared to use the words 'Argus Model C' and 'Plug Ugly' together. It clearly annoyed one Good Old Boy from the Deep South, who viewed 'Bricks' as American Design Icons because his family had used one for umpteen years, for get-together pics no doubt of all his cousins' get-togethers. So we got into an increasingly acidic argument, with nationalities of ugly motor vehicles even becoming involved since he was also a fan of the Ford Edsel. (Sigh!)
    After the steam pressure of the angry words seemed to have reduced, I did my best to pour oil over troubled waters pointing out that I was a great admirer of the earlier art-decoish Argus Model A, but that did no good. He even went on to defend the Ford Edsel on the grounds that they're worth a lot of money these days, which of course they are - but only because they're so rare, because nobody bought one way back when because they were so ugly!
    Nothing like turning back the hands of time and all that sort of thing, eh? So, in the hope that Yosemite Sam #2 is no longer on line, I'll mention again that the Argus Brick is not high on my list of pretty cameras, as neither is the Kodak 35 RF. Neither is the British-made bakerlite Wembley Sports, one of which I actually bought on a UK holiday several years ago purely to bring back to show the guys at our next Perth Camera Collectors Society meeting as an example of extreme ugliness. Can you believe it, that one of our members offered me more than I'd paid for it, so how could I refuse?
    One of the earlier postees has also mentioned the early Perfex (Candid?) as an Example Of Ugliness, but I must go to the defence of US made 35mm cameras stating that the later Perfex 55 is one fine looking camera - maybe because Candid Camera Co designers had now realised that bakerlite and alloy didn't go together all that well? (Pete In a Sticky Perth)
  34. Pete, I've always wanted an Edsel! However the Kodak 35 Rangefinder heads my list of ugly cameras and from the same company that produced the elegant Bantam Special. However one of the early Sony digital cameras was once described as looking like a tube train having hit the side of a garden shed
  35. Ugly is only skin deep. The bulbous Photomic finders, affixed to the otherwise svelte Nikons, were ugly as sin (in my ever so humble opinion).
  36. Quite right Steve, but the Nikon can be easily transformed into a swan with the addition of a plain prism.
    Pete, of course this thread was meant to be very tongue in cheek and humorous, one does have to be careful though. I, for one, really love that American excess from the fifties and sixties. A friend has a '59 Cadillac, you couldn't call it pretty...but man is it cool!
  37. Well this one definitely falls under the battered category, as #2 Folding Autographic Brownies do not normally exude such... um, character. :) This lovely example came to me in a lot of several older cameras, all of which the seller claimed he found in a barn. Somehow, I don't doubt that story!
  38. A swan indeed. The Photomic finders seem absurd today, both in appearance and function. In the 1960's they were cutting edge tech.
  39. Jeff, that is a classic...should buff out ok! Steve, which I could transform my looks that easy!

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