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Friday, January 12, 2007

International Camera - a colourful past and present

After so many camera stores and labs closing their doors lately here in Northern California (Brook's, Reed's, etc) it was good to visit one institution that is still alive and kicking: International Camera.

International camera has a very colourful past and one that has left more than one imprint on the history of cameras.

It all started back in the 1930's....
35mm photography was really taking off when a German company Leitz introduced their Barnack camera. It had a number of companies racing to put out their own version of this popular high-end product and one small radio parts supplier company in Chicago decided to change their direction and funded the "Candid Camera Corporation of America".

In 1938 they started producing a line of cameras named "Perfex" and the first one out the door was the Perfex 'Speed Candid' that was the first American full frame, 35mm camera with a focal plane shutter. It was a camera that was met with mixed reactions. It sported features rarely - or never - seen in 35mm cameras before but at the same time the quality and reliability was often questioned. To add pain to injure the camera also later came to be known as potentially the ugliest camera ever made.

An original ad from 1938 below.
The company continued to produce another seven cameras in the Perfex line (along with at least one D8 movie camera) and was groundbreaking in incorporating a synced hot shoe in their later cameras. Were they great cameras? Well, maybe not..but they do occupy their rightful place in camera history and from a collector's perspective you should be able to collect them all without breaking the bank.

In 1949 the company changed its name again to what it is know as today - "International Camera Corp" and in 1959 the company finally ceased the production of the Perfex cameras.

The company is still around today though - in Chicago and Oakland - and at my first visit to their Oakland location a month ago I was equally impressed and shocked (read: thrilled) at the number of film cameras being sold and repaired there.

Below are some photos taken at the store using an Olympus 35SP and Kodak Tri-X 400 film.

The owner at International Camera, Oakland, CA

Lots..and lots..of cameras along the walls of the store...

Many simply hanging off hooks - in or out of their cases. It's a treasury hunt there

Some of the more valuable items behind glass

Rolleiflex, Minolta, Fuji and lenses...lenses..lenses...

The repair room

If you find yourself in Oakland do yourself a favour and pop into this place - but make sure you got a few hours to spare there is a LOT of cameras and lenses there. A LOT....


Blogger Al Kaplan said...

I sure wish we still had shops like this in Miami, FL.

January 12, 2007 7:39 PM  
Blogger Rich Silfver said...

They are unfortunately few and far between in California as well.

January 12, 2007 9:03 PM  
Anonymous John said...

I had no idea. Thanks for the scoop Rich. I'll have to visit soon.

January 13, 2007 3:12 PM  
Blogger Kurt's Blackberry moblog said...

I love that store - the owner has CLA'd my Canon AE-1 and Canon FTb, both now shoot like new!

March 20, 2008 3:18 PM  

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