Why make colored cameras?

Camera makers and people were just the same in the 1800's as we are today. They liked nice things. Around the turn of the century cameras were marketed to special interest groups. For instance Kodak marketed the Vest Pocket cameras in a special ensemble in 1928-1929. This ensemble came with a colored camera, lipstick, a compact, a mirror, and a change pocket in a special leather box. To this day people love colored cameras they are fun to own and fun to see. Why collect colored cameras just because you can. James Vilett (2010)

  • -Vest Pocket
  • -Ramera
  • -Strato 35
  • -Werra
  • -Samoca 35
  • -Silver Fox
    Agfa Ansco
  • -Agfa Ansco
  • -Kiddie
  • -Carbine
  • -Penti II
  • -Rainbow
  • -Brownie
  • -Vest
  • -Tomato
  • -Miget 16
      Utility MFG
  • -Praktiflex
  • -Bella DC4
  • -No2 Brownie
  • -Rodina
  • -Petite
  • -Bower X
  • -XA2
  • -Bellami
  • -Stylus Epic
  • Beau

Vest Pocket Readyset

ANSCO* (Binghamton, NY) made these between 1924 and 1932. They used 127 film, which is still available, and produced 4x6.5cm exposures. The exterior finish was smooth painted enamel; and the fittings were brass. Available colors included red, blue, and green. I only collect these because I have a vested interest.   Vest Pocket Readyset

Vest Pocket ReadysetVest Pocket Readyset  Vest Pocket Readyset

*ANSCO was short for Anthony and Scovill and was formed from E. & H.T.   Anthony Company and Scovill and Adams in 1902.

Ramera Camera/Radio

Made by Kowa Optical Works*, 1959. This was an AM transistor radio that ran on a 9 volt battery. Built into it was a 16mm film camera that produced 10x14mm negatives. The 16mm film came in standard Minolta 16 film cassettes. There was a film counter on the back. The film was wound by using a small bottom mounted triangular ring. This ring was also pulled down to cock the shutter which had 3 speeds B, 50 100 and 200. It came with a Prominar 23mm f3.5 lens with manual f stops down to f 11. The radio had an earphone jack; and a PC fitting for using flash. It said "6 transistor radio and camera model KTC-62 made in Japan" on the back. There was even a tripod mount on the bottom. Available in black, blue, red, and white. Just once I'd like to ramera my point home.

Camera Radio


*Although the parent company is much older Kowa Koki Seisakusho started in 1946 and meant Kowa Optical Works. The company made high value optical products under the Prominar brand name which was granted in 1948. They entered camera production in 1954 with the Kalloflex 6x6 TLR. They also produced the Graflex Century series of cameras. The company name was changed to Kowa Co. in 1960.


By Tougodo Optical Company Ltd.*, Toyohashi Japan, 1957. Scale focusing Tri-Lausar 4.5cm f4.5 coated lens. The shutter had speeds B 25 50 100 and 300. Brown painted trim with brown leather. While not an expensive camera it was pretty. Buying this camera was meant to send you into the stratosphere.


*Formed in 1930 and named after Japanese Navy admiral Tougo. This company   made many hit type minature cameras and the memorable Moonflex and   Skyflex TLR cameras.

Zeiss Werra 1a

Produced by Carl Zeiss Jena*, 1958. A non metered 35mm camera. An entire host of models were produced between 1954 and 1964. This was the second version of many models. These cameras came with all sorts of different shutter and lens combinations. Colors included olive green until 1960, after that they were black, and the last models had a herringbone covering. Trust the East Germans to come up with that wide variety of proletariat** colors to attract consumers. The ring around the lens turned to cock the shutter and advanced the film. Shutter speeds include B 1 2 5 10 25 50 100 and 250. This way of cocking the shutter was really unique. The finder in this model was fitted with a bright-frame finder. The camera was focused by scale and had a 50mm f2.8 coated Zeiss Tessar lens. Werra have you been all my life?


*Jena was in Russian-occupied East Germany.
**The working class. A citzen of the lowest class.

Samoca 35 III

Samoca Camera Co. LTD* c1950's. The model III had an ASA sync on the front. This particular camera is alligator (I think) skin covered. The fittings are partly polished brass and partly chrome. To the right of the lens is an engraved flower. To the left of the lens is an engraved leaf. The front lettering is in gold. Ezumar 50mm f3.5 lens. Focusing by scale. Shutter speeds B 25 50 100. Push button shutter cocking. A new flavored coffee drink, Samoca.

logo         leafflower

                                  Samoca 35

*Sanei Sangyo KK was a camera maker and was   renamed Samoca Camera Company in 1952.   Sanei roughly translated as "three A" the original logo of the company was   AAA inside a triangle. Note the Company logo above the flower in the picture   above.

Ansco 1A Readyset Royal

Ansco, Binghamton New York c1931-1932. The 1A was called the silver fox. While the outside looked like fur it was simply leather. The interior was gray enamel. The shutter only had two speeds instant and time. Ready set go; the fox got caught.

sliver fox                        Ansco lens





Agfa Ansco Box No 2 Model E

A Corporation was formed in 1928 from Agfa* and Ansco. These simple box cameras were some of the first cameras this combined company produced. All were probably made prior to 1936. They came in green, blue, gray, and perhaps other colors. On these particular models the front was a metal plate. There was a simple uncoated glass lens inside the body, and a one speed shutter. The bodies accepted standard, still available, 120 film. The interior structure and the entire body structure were all made of thick wood. If you would like a box camera to shoot these were wonderfully made. Making jokes about a farmer Agfa.

Blue Agfa AnscoGreen Agfa Ansco

*An abbreviation for "Actien Gesellschaft fur Anilin Fabrikation".

Agfa Ansco Kiddie Camera

Produced by Ansco starting in 1910 without a top strap. These 1910 cameras came in black, burgundy, or green; and were called the Dollar box camera. Later the same camera was sold by Agfa Ansco with a strap as the Kiddie Camera c1928-1929. These came in red only. They used (still available) 127 film. It had a simple waist level finder with a 1 speed shutter. Designed to produce early blindness in kids from squinting through the small top finder.

                   Kiddie Camera

No 2 Box Carbine

Houghtons LTD & W Butcher (London, England) 1923. These two companies came togeather (in 1915) to manufacture cameras and later merged in 1926. Brown leather, wire sports frame finder (for those really fast box camera sports action shots), metal side latch, single element glass lens. It had two waist level finders with black bezels. There was a very simple rotory disk shutter with one instant speed and a time setting. Three f stop settings were available by pulling out a tab of metal on the side of the camera. The carbine was just the same as the Box Ensign. It used 120 film. These came in black or brown. This was a reasonably nice camera for a box camera.

                                    Box Carbine No2

Penti II

Pentacon* (VEB Pentacon, Dresden, Germany), 1960. This took standard 35mm film in Agfa Rapid film cassettes. These film cassettes had a teardrop end shape rather than being round. The plastic main body came in black, green, red, or ivory. The metal faceplate was gold colored. Built in match needle selenium meter. Plunger shutter cocking. Fire the camera and the plunger poped out. If you were taking spy pictures around a corner the plunger could pop out and hit you in the eye. Perhaps this is how all the one-eyed East German spies came to be? It came with a 30mm f3.5 Domiplan lens. Focusing was by scale. It had a film counter and a PC fitting. Take the plunge buy a Penti.

       Penti II

*Various East German firms combined in 1959 as VEB Kamera und Kinowerke   Dresden. By 1964 they became Pentacon.

Rainbow Hawk-eye No. 2 Model C

Eastman Kodak Co.Rainbox Hawk-eye, 1930-1933. The Hawk-eye* came in blue, green, brown, vermillion, maroon, and black. For 2 1/4 x 3 1/4 exposures on 120 film. Some of these cameras had unique side labels which make these special versions more valuable. A single speed shutter (1/60th) with a fixed f stop (f8). This was your quintessential sunny day camera... f8 at 1/60th of a second with ASA 100 film. You'd have to be a sharp-eyed (Hawk-eyed) consumer to purchase this camera.




*The Hawkeye trademark was owned by Boston Camera Company and was   passed to Blair Camera Company. In 1907 Kodak bought Blair Camera Co.

Brownie Box Cameras

Eastman Kodak Co., 1901-1933. Standard type No2 and 2A Brownie* cameras came in blue, black, red, green. Various models and various size cameras were produced.

The Six-20 Brownie model F was made between 1955-1957 in the UK. It had brown trimmed face and rear plates. Fittings were brass colored. The camera had a flash sync; and came with two bright waist level finders. It also had a nice built in close up lens. Pictures were 2 1/4 x 3 1/4 size on 620 film. The lens was a meniscus f 11 lens in an Everst single speed shutter. The USA got stuck with the Green and Blue versions the British got the nice deluxe version.

Green BrownieBlue BrownieModel F Brownie

*In 1898 Eastman ask Frank Brownell to design the most effective least    expensive camera possible. The purpose was to get children, and people in  general, to take up photography. Brownell came up with the Brownie camera  which started production in 1900. For the next 80 years almost 100 cameras  (between 1900 and 1980) bore the Brownie name.

Vest Pocket Rainbow Hawkeye

Eastman Kodak, (Rochester, NY) 1930-1933. These came with and without the Rainbow designation. There was a name plate, on the front of the shutter, that said "Vest Pocket Rainbow Hawkeye". Available in orchid, rose, blue, or green. These are also found with black replacement bellows (which are worth much less). The colored bellows wore out quickly and are thus somewhat harder to find. Crackle finish painted exterior. Note the nice brown exterior. Used 127 film for 4.5x6cm exposures. Over the top rainbow pictures were possible with this camera. The sky was the limit with a Rainbow.

Rainbow Hawkeye            Rainrainbow Hawk-eye





Konica Corporation (Tokyo, Japan) 1985. A modern day 35mm camera which looked like a ripe tomato. Dial film advance. A clear rear window for viewing the film cassette. Built in electronic flash with LED indicator. A fixed focus 35mm f4.0 Konica lens; with a sliding door lens cover. A single shutter speed of 1/125th of a second. ISO setting for 100 200 and 400. A close up switch. Konica launched this camera in 1985, this is one very ripe tomato. It came as a colorful boxed kit, decorated with its unique logo. Any way you slice it this was an in your face color.

       Konica Tomato

Falcon Midget 16

Utility MFG. Co.* (New York) 1934. The cardboard storage box is marked
"The new Falcon Camera Model Midget 16". This was a red covered cardboard camera which used 127 film for half-frame 3x4cm negatives. It had a one speed shutter; and a waist level finder for viewing. The camera was stamped Miget 16 on the front. The back of the camera was metal with two red film number viewing windows. Because of the half-frame negative size both windows were used to advance the film. It was priced at the huge sum of One dollar. Designed for underfed 16 year old New York high school kids.

Miget 16Miget 16  Box

*Utility Manufacturing Company of New York, NY produced many low cost   bakelite and roll film cameras from 1934 into the 1940's when Spatus Corp of   Chicago bought the company.


K.W. (Kamera-Werkstatton Guthe & Thorsch, Dresden, Germany) 1939-1940. This used 35mm film. It had a simple waist level finder allowed for viewing. The lens was a screw mount design; labeled 5cm f2.8 Schneider Kreuznach Xenar. The shutter was adjustable with speeds B, 20 30 50 75 100 200 300 and 500. The film counter was a dial under the advance knob. The finish was a gray crackle paint. These came in black, brown, blue, or red. Colored versions of this are pretty rare. This design was fairly advanced for the times.



Bella DC4

Bilora (Kurbi & Niggeloh, Radevormwald, Germany) c1959. There were various models of this 120 film camera starting in 1956 with this being the last 1959 model. This particular model took 4x4cm (1 5/8" x 1 5/8") pictures on 120 film. One wonders why they went from earlier 6x6cm models to a 4x4cm model. It had gray leather and was labeled 4x4 with an enamel plate on the top of the camera. It came with a 55mm f5.6 Rodenstock Trinar lens. The shutter had speeds B 25 50 and 200. Focusing was by scale. There was a PC fitting with a built in flash shoe. A German folk tale with multiple meanings, Bilora.

Bella DC4            4x4 logo








No2 Model F, English Brownie

Eastman Kodak Co., 1929-1933. The No 2 model Brownie cameras were made of cardboard. This late model Model F UK version was made mostly of aluminum. Cameras came in red, brown, claret, green, blue, gray, and black and were marketed in England. From 1931 an advance knob replaced the side winding key. This particular camera had a winding knob rather than a Key. The models made in England were trimmed in black metal. They had a one speed shutter and two waist level finders. 120 film was used for 2 1/4 x 3 1/4 pictures. This particular model was labeled on the back..."Made in Great Britain By Kodak Limited".

English Brownie                        Model F Brownie






Ferrania*, (Milan, Italy) c1948. The Rodina camera was made in Italy. It took 4x6.5cm pictures on 127 film. It was well made of heavy cast metal. One interesting thing about the camera was the interior pulled apart from the advance knob side for loading film. A single element Linear f7.5 lens was focused by scale. It had a one speed shutter with a PC fitting for flash; and came with a waist level finder and a sports finder. Available in red, black, blue, green, tan, and brown. Rojo, the color red in Spanish; perhaps this is where they got the name Rodina?



*The original firm was started in 1923 as a maker of   photographic paper, films, and equipment. The company was purchased in   1964 by the 3M company.


Eastman Kodak, (Rochester, NY) June 1929-1934. A Vest Pocket Kodak Model B camera in various colors. Marked Kodak Petite on the front. Available in blue, green, gray, lavender, and old rose with diamond pattern exterior in a matching case. It used 127 film. The camera had vest pocket rotary shutter with speeds I and T, and a simple meniscus lens. It came with a matching carrying case. This example has a badly faded exterior covering. A camera for smaller people only.

Petite      Petite             booklet

Bower X

Bower (Saul Bower Inc.,New York City, N.Y.) c1951-1958. A German made 620 film camera for 2 1/4 x 3 1/4 negatives. It had a 105mm f4.5 Schneider-Kreuznach Radionar lens. The lens had a very nice coatings with scale focusing. The shutter was a Prontor SV shutter with speeds B 1 2 5 10 25 50 100 and 250. A PC fitting was installed and it allowed for electronic flash. There was a shutter release on the top of the body. The camera was also designed to accept a mask which allowed 2 1/4 x 2 1/4 negatives. It was marked "made in Germany US Zone". Bower X, a type of New York canine, a precursor to the modern day pitbull.

Bower X            Bower X Closed





Olympus* Kogaku (Japan) 1980. 35mm f3.5 D.Zuiko Lens. Focusing was by using three available zones- mountains, groups, or close ups. Finger advance with a small thumb wheel. Manual film rewind. Combined battery check and self timer lever on the bottom. Removable flash with auto exposure for ASA 100 or 400 film speeds only. Opening the sliding front cover turned the camera on. An auto exposure camera with a stepless shutter with a top speed of 1/500th. Colored versions of this were fairly rare in the USA as they were mostly marketed in Japan. A heavy, but soft, saddle leather case was available; the case catches were magnetic. The cameras came in silver, blue, red, and black. The black model was the commonly available model sold in the USA. This particular camera was purchased in Japan by a Japanese businessman and then traded in here in the USA.

            XA2 caseXA2



*The company was   established in 1919 and is named after Mount Olympus. It's all Greek to me.


Bellami Anniversary Edition

Chinon Industries (Tokyo and Suwa City, Japan) 1981. This special plush version was made for the 50th Anniversary of Chinon USA. It was covered in red suede. It came in a soft black leather case. The best thing about using this camera is it could be stroked. When the camera was cocked the doors quickly opened and the lens popped out with a loud snap. People instantly knew that you were going to take their picture. Focusing was by scale. The electronic flash was removable and allowed for fill flash. The horse and carriage on the front said it all. There was no bull about this camera it was all about horsing around. This was fully a horse of another color, gold.



Stylus Epic Limited Edition

Olympus Kogaku (Japan) 1998. Since it was launched in 1991, the Olympus Infinity Stylus Series of ultracompact, high-performance cameras, has been a sales phenomenon. To date over 10 million have been sold worldwide.

To celebrate this milestone, Olympus is pleased to introduce the Infinity Stylus Epic Limited. Only 20,000 units of the commemorative Stylus Epic Limited will be available.

The Stylus Epic Limited has a lustrous Starry Night appearance, a deeper shade of the metallic-black color that was developed in 1997 for the Stylus Epic DLX. This limited edition camera is specially packaged with a leather case and strap in a beautiful keepsake box. (A press release from the Olympus web site).

box logo  interior   Camera

Beau Brownie

Eastman Kodak Co. October 1930-1933. The Beau Brownie* was an art deco No 2 or 2A Brownie box camera. The 2A took 116 film and made 2 1/4 x 4 1/4 negatives. The lens was a doublet lens with a one speed shutter for instant I (1/60th of a second), and T for time. The body was built shorter than other Brownie cameras due to the doublet lens. There were three available f stop settings by pulling a small tab. The camera had two tripod fittings for upright and sideways pictures. Two waist level finders on different sides of the camera allowed for viewing. The face plate was done in two tone colors. Color faceplate combinations included black, tan, green, blue, or rose. Cameras came in Rose, Green, Tan, Blue, or Black. Rose and Green cameras were only made for three month in 1930 and only sold during 1930-1931. The Rose cameras are worth the most. Green cameras are the next most valuable. Black is the least valuable but is still a desirable camera. The black model had a black and burgundy face plate. What you need to ask is will you be my Beau.

Black Beau BrownieBeau Brownie CaseGreen Beau BrownieTop Beau BrownieGreen Beau Case

Black 2A Beau Brownie...................Green 2A Beau Brownie with green leather.

*Walter Dorwin Teague designed the Beau Brownie; the 1928 Vest Pocket Vanity   Kodak in five colors; and the "Vanity Kodak ensemble" (mentioned in the   sidebar of this article); as well as the Kodak Super Six-20 camera.