Folding camera

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Typical folding camera in unfolded posture
Typical folding camera in folded posture
A 1907 woodcut of a horizontal format folding camera

A folding camera is a camera type. Folding cameras derive their name from their feature that they are folded into a compact and rugged package for storage. Typically, the camera objective sits attached to a bellows. Inside the bellows a pantograph-style mechanic attaches the objective to the body. When the camera is fully unfolded it provides the correct focus. The key advantage of folding cameras is their excellent physical-size-to-film-size ratio when the camera is folded for storage. This feature is advantageous particularly large physical films, e.g., medium format films.

Folding cameras dominated camera design from 1900 to 1945. The typical amateur camera of the 1930s was a folding 6x9 camera for either the 120 or 620 film size.

The use of folding cameras declined after World War II with the introduction of 35mm film format in the consumer market. 35mm film made small-sized cameras possible without using bellows. However, some 35 mm cameras continued to be built as folding cameras, e.g., the original Kodak Retina. Medium format folders were produced in USSR until the 1960s[citation needed].

Notable folding cameras include

  • Polaroid Corporation's line of instant film folding cameras, including the famous SX-70, a single lens reflex camera
  • Seagull Camera model 203, popular throughout the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s as an inexpensive, entry-level, medium-format camera
  • Voigtländer Bessa III, a retro-style camera with a 6x6 or 6x7 frames using 120/220 medium-format films

See also[edit]