most famous camera model?

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by neilpeters, Sep 11, 2006.

  1. What is the most famous camera model ever made?

    Not the most famous "brand" or format, but model. (example: the Nikkormat EL
    or the Nikon F5) Not necessarily the best seller, but maybe the one model
    most recognized by any generation, even though most have never held one in
    their hands. I'm guessing the Leica M3, am I wrong?
  2. Rollei in a way: when you see a tlr, Rollei is the first word that comes to people's mind.
  3. Leica M3? Are you nuts? For all practical purposes they don't exist. That is, reliable reports of M3 sightings are very rare, as are reliable reports of sightings of ANY Leica. I see Leicas on tables at camera shows, not in use. Not that many were made ...
  4. The "Kodak" (original), followed by the "Leica" (original), the "Brownie" (original), Kodak "Hawkeye" (1950s), "Speed Graphic" (generic).
  5. Yeah, Rolleiflex is pretty famous and indeed people of all ages "recognize" any TLR as a "Rolleiflex" when I shoot a classic TLR camera. On the other hand, my grandmother (RIP) "recognized" any 35mm camera as a Leica, even a Nikon F801 (N8008) SLR. But the Franke & Heidecke Rolleiflex is definitively one of the iconic camera models that almost everyone will identify. "Leica" and "Hasselblad" have strong brand recognition as the 35mm or medium format camera maker, but I think that no-one (at least no non-photographer) could name a single camera model from one of these manufacturers.
  6. The most famous has to be the Brownie. It almost became a generic term for any box camera.

    Then there was the Instamatics, for better or worse.

    In my experience, the Nikon F broke the big ground for public recognition as a popular camera.

    I'm not speaking of the knowledgeable, but of the public in general.
  7. Speed Graphic; Polaroid Swinger.
  8. "Famous" is a moving target. The most famous model in my youth was the Box Brownie. Everybody recognised it and knew it by name. Kids today would barely understand it's a camera and would probably name some brand of phone if you asked them for the top camera. That's progress.
    BTW, stuff like Nikons and Leicas are just not known to the general public, so couldn't be described as famous.
  9. Polaroid SX-70!
  10. kodak instamatic.
  11. Interesting post, Neil. I guess we have to look carefully at that word "famous" you've used, and decide - does it mean just plain well-known or are there other connotations of excellence?

    My dictionary, for example, has it defined as "much talked of and praised". So, even though the best-known camera of all time must clearly be the humble Box Brownie, which everybody's grandparents had way back when, perhaps when it comes to "praised" we should think more in terms of the Leica, Contax, Rolleiflex or Nikon F.
  12. If talking the period covered by this forum then definitely the Brownie range. Next would Leica or Rollei but, as Brian so rightly said, 'fame' is a moving target.
  13. I'll have to agree with David Lee - "Instamatic" it is.

    Hasselblad fails due to the common "is that a Hasselblad?" question when you're shooting anything bigger than 35mm. MF or LF doesn't matter, to many people "big camera = Hasselblad".

    I have no idea how to spot the difference between a Leica M3 and just about any other Leica, and I'm more into camera gear than most people!
  14. Argus C3 Matchmatic

    Kodak Instamatic

    Polaroid Swinger
  15. Nikon F was the most recognized camera of the second half of the 20th century -- to the general public, moreso than any Leica. Even Paul Simon talked about "Nikon camera" in the song "Kodachrome." If there was a new event people saw photographers armed with Nikon Fs.

    I suppose it could ne argued that "Instamatic" was a more recognized name, but 35mm SLRs ruled serious photography for 40 years and Nikon was unquestionably the most recognized brand.
  16. This is a very unfair question which can only receive unfair answers...

    If you are going to mention Leica, then you would be unfair to Rolleiflex, Zeiss Ikon, Voigtlander??

    If you are going to mention Nikon, then you would be unfair to Canon, Minolta, Pentax Yashica etc?

    Each camera company has brought about inovations over their developing years, everyone has had their "first".

    Hence there is no answer to such a question... imo
  17. Like several others have mentioned, in the TLR world, Rolleiflex is the most famous - because they were the ones who developed the rollfilm TLR (not plate or sheet film TLRs - those date back to the 1860s) as we know it! Like Bueh, whenever I shoot with my TLRs, Rolleiflex or not, someone older inevitably comes up to me and asks, "Is that a Rolleiflex?" I've even had that question asked by an elderly gentleman in Taiwan, when I was traveling there! He never explained why he knew about the Rolleiflex, but nevertheless, he was fascinated to see a 'young man' using such an 'ancient' camera. Younger people closer to my age (college) don't recognize the camera as much - photography students do, of course, but others have approached me with, "Is that a movie camera?" or "Dude...that's old." or the more general, "What is that?" So...I would say the Rolleiflex isn't recognized to all generations (then again, what camera is?) - but it is the most famous in its own field.
  18. I too would say the Nikon F.
  19. Before reading other posts, my the top 3 I thought of were: Kodak Brownie, Nikon F, and Leica M3 (though you might have influenced my by your post).
  20. In Toronto there are 2 print advertising campaigns that inexplicably use classic cameras. One has an obviously modern model in a modern setting being snapped by photographers with Graflexes and those big flash attachments.
    Another is for a financial shows a yuppie wingnut with a goofy grin holding a postwar (Ikonta 35?) and aiming it as if he intends to use it.

    I think those Speed/Crown Graflex press cameras are fairly famous as icons.

    PS: The other day a pretty female student saw my Yashicamat and said, "That's a wicked camera". I had to agree with her.
  21. I have been going through the older National Geographics (pre 1960), and the most seen camera was a Leica screw mount IIIa and later. After that the Rolleis and Exacta.
  22. Rarely do I go somewhere with one of my older Canon SLRs that I don't get asked asked if they're an AE-1. I'd venture to guess that for a lot of people, the widely marketed AE-1(over 5 million sold) was the steriotypical "nice camera"(meaning SLR) for people who were around in the '70s and '80s.

    On the same note, I would speculate that the Digital Rebel has or is gaining much of the same status today.
  23. Most of the answers above are dependent on the age of the person answering. Growing up I never heard of Rolliflex or Leica.

    What I could identify as a camera though was from what I saw in the movies and while watching TV. Two cameras can be elevated to iconic status due to their presence in the media: any large format camera where the photographer has to go under a dark cloth to focus or use flash powder for a studio shot, and a Crown/Speed Graphic used by press photographers.

    Most old people would be familiar with those two since they saw them when the movies first featured them and the rest of us have seen them during reruns on TV.

    Any box camera or later Brownie style, although ubiquitous for a time, would have to take a back seat to those two since they were replaced by the latest cheap camera of the moment (e.g. the Instamatic in my youth).
  24. Uhm, were not taking about brand recognition, or most influential, or best designed, or most used. Here in Europe nobody knows what a "Brownie" is, and Speed Graphics are only identified by vintage camera buffs. Thanks to the prominent logo most people will know one when they see a Nikon SLR, but I doubt that 1 in 100 can correctly identify it as an "F", or "F50", or "F301" model -- it's simply an old mechanical SLR just like the ones from Canon, Minolta, Porst or Revue (both rebranded cheap Japanese cameras).

    But even when shooting student protests some (older) teenagers recognize the TLR design and guess that the camera is a Rolleiflex. It's really unsettling.
  25. Well ,I'm going to leave the model aside, because that changes with time-----imo you've reached fame when the brand name becomes interchangeable with the adjective,noun and verb.

    ie. put it in the fridgidaire---stitch it up on a singer--- make a zerox---take a polaroid--- a kodak moment,etc,etc.---you can "google" it--lol.
  26. For specific model, then I'll go with Kodak Brownie as well.
  27. "ie. put it in the fridgidaire---stitch it up on a singer--- make a zerox---take a polaroid--- a kodak moment,etc,etc.---you can "google" it--lol."

    From the 'you young whippersnapper' department:

    Icebox, not Fridge

    Photostat, not Xerox

    "He got Kodaked", not "Take a Polaroid"

    Webster's Dictionary and Enclopedia Britannica, not Google

    No one where I lived owned an SLR except my rich uncle whom nobody liked anyway. He had a Honeywell Pentax, and he worked for Honeywell, so that kind of made sense. I never saw a TLR growing up. Not one. Central Illinois in the 1960's, I saw Honeywell Electric Eyes, Kodak Instamatics and big old folding Polaroids, and Argus C3's.

    Lots of rich people around here. I wasn't one.
  28. Oops, it was Bell & Howell Electric Eye, not Honeywell. Memory fades when your wetware starts to give up.
  29. It has got to be a Deardorff V8. If it is good enough for Gisele, it is good enough for me.
  30. Here in Belgium most people still say a "Kodak" to almost any camera they see, like "what a nice Kodak you got there" (while it was a Minolta XD7) :).
  31. If Google results are any indication, here are the top three along with their number of hits:

    Nikon F- 1,860,000
    Rolleiflex- 949,000
    Leica M3- 376,000

    The Kodaks and others were also-rans.
  32. I guess you didn't google Canon EOS-

  33. I would say that "most" people never heard of a Nikon F or a Leica. All those brands are known to "camera" people, not the general public (in the US). "Brownie Hawkeye", "Instamatic 100", "Poliroid" etc. would be far more famous to the vast majority of people. Which one is the most famous would probably depend on a persons age.
  34. I think Polaroid has an advantage. Yes, Rolleiflexes are hugely well known, but you can't really tell a Rollei from a Yashica from across the street, and the same is true of most cameras, even the famous ones. But pull out any Polaroid of the post-SX-70 vintage, and if it isn't immediately recognized as a Polaroid from its funny shape, it will be when it squirts out the picture!
  35. The people that designed the road sign indicating a police speed camera must have researched this long and hard before coming up with their answer. In the UK the road sign indicating a police speed camera is a cross between a Hasselblad and a Brownie.
  36. Christy Brinkley?
  37. I would say Brownie (various), Argus C3, Nikon F, Spotmatic, Polaroid. Most camera people have heard of Leica, Zeiss, Minolta, etc. but some of that is probably more do with marketing and what pros used. I can spot the white Canon lenses of pro photogs at sporting events, but I've never seen a Leica in the wild, I'm convinced those never leave someone's shelf.
  38. Great answer Mr. Lofquist :) I'm still in love with Cheryl Tiggs.
  39. .

    My 2 cents:

    "Brownie" -- often used in story telling, as in "I remember my first camera -- a Brownie".

    Leica M -- generally "M" but no specific number, just "Leica M", not a high volume seller, just often mentioned, especially in photojournalism references.

    Olympus OM -- not a high volume seller, but often mentioned as a class act.

    Many cameras were the best selling of their type in their time:

    Olympus Pen -- outsold everything else in it's day, in incredible numbers!

    Minolta SRT -- again, a best seller.

    Minolta X-700 -- a best seller, I still see this one with black tape over the name in CURRENT movies and television! There must still be a lot of them in the props room, otherwise unused? VERY LOUD, especially with motor drive, and probably favored for that, though sound effects are easy to add later, but the loud noise is good for grabbing the viewer's attention that a photo was just taken. Not as loud as a Yashica, though! ;-)

    Minolta 7000 -- a best seller, but awkwardly named as AF, Maxxum, Dynax or eventually Alpha, so who remembers which name?

    Canon AE, or was it AE1?

    ... other camera names I remember hearing about before I was really into the gear:

    Pentax K-something, or was it ME-something?, anyway, just "Pentax" is often used.

    Polaroid SX-70 was famous as the first autofocus SLR, and with the name Alpha 1 was probably an early use of ALPHA on a camera -- any earlier uses of the name ALPHA on a camera, now that Sony has taken over the Minolta Alpha series?

    Nikon F -- there are many references, but generally the "F" series is enough to identify the writer's intentions.

    I think Googling a name is misleading unless you also search Google books! ;-)

    Nice thread.

    Now, on to the WORST or most negatively notirious or hilarious camera names ...


    Love and hugs,

    Peter Blaise Minolta Rokkor Alpha DiMage Photographer
  40. <img src=""><BR><BR><img src=""><BR><BR><img src=""><BR><BR>4x5 Super-XX, Epson 2450
  41. Kodak has to be one of the biggest brands with some of the biggest models of all time. As far as leicas go the most widely produced was the M3 but I wouldn't say its the most famous ever. Leicas are rare and expensive kind of like an exotic car.
  42. Kelly,

    Why didn't you identify your lovely model as the one and only Betty Page.

    Am I showing my age or that I am a dirty old man? As Red Foxx (or is it Redd FOX? ) said, when I stop being a dirty old man, I'll be a dead old man.
  43. Go to Eastern Europe, ask people at least in their 40s-50s, you'll get Praktica, Zenit, Smena, Zorki. Few heard of Leicas or Rolleis, very (VERY) few heard of Brownies... A different world!
  44. Kodak.
    In Indonesian official dictionary, "Kodak" translates to "camera".

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