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1940s Camera

Discussion in 'Classic Models & Marques' started by EliseLeveque, Sep 26, 2012.

  1. EliseLeveque

    EliseLeveque Member

    Hi all,

    I was looking at getting a camera that would have been used around the 1940s for a re-enactement event.

    Basically I am going to re-enact being a member of the press around the World War II period, I haven't decided whether to be a civilian or a military photographer just yet though.

    It doesn't really matter if it works or not as it's just for show. Although if it did work it would be a bonus.

    It needs to be an English camera, any ideas of where I could get one or how expensive it can be?

    Thanks in advance!
  2. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    Why? Just about everyone was using German cameras...
    Louise likes this.
  3. LargeFormat

    LargeFormat Well-Known Member

    An MPP would fit the bill and would be large enough to make a visual statement.

    I should have added 5 x 4.
  4. EliseLeveque

    EliseLeveque Member

    Because I am re-enacting British press, did they use German cameras even if the UK was fighting against Germany?
  5. EliseLeveque

    EliseLeveque Member

    Hi and thanks! One question though, is the MPP post war?
  6. jchrisc

    jchrisc Well-Known Member

    In 1940 I was a junior-school boy and using a Box Brownie. My father was using a quarter plate camera. Later I had a Purma, which was certainly British made, but I cannot imagine a press or forces photographer using one.

    There are Purmas from that period available at relatively low prices and might serve your re-enactment purposes but if you want to acquire gear that was actually used by press photographers at the time, I fear that there may be considerable cost.

    My guess about press photographers in the UK is that the preferred camera would have been a Graflex imported from the U.S.A. while those accompanying the forces would have been using 35mm and that probably means German.

    I'm sure there are contributors to this site who know a lot more than I do about the history of photography in that period.
  7. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    If they were using 35mm or a TLR, yes they did - as did British forces.
  8. beejaybee

    beejaybee Marvin

    Well there were British copies of Leicas (some dare I say it better than the original) ... though I think the Microcord didn't appear till after the war. Some very nice folding medium format cameras from the likes of Ensign; Kodak were I think exporting Box Brownies to the UK before the war (though supply would have dried up for the duration. As did supplies of film for purposes not directly connected with the war effort.)

    Was the Corfield Periflex in production in the 1940s?
  9. beatnik69

    beatnik69 Well-Known Member

    Good grief, you'll be getting fatwas issued against you!
  10. LargeFormat

    LargeFormat Well-Known Member

    Good Lord! you're quite right.

    What are you asking us for?:D
  11. gray1720

    gray1720 Well-Known Member

    David Suchet's grandfather James Jarche used a Purma Special, in plentiful supply on Ebay, though 127 film is rather more awkward to find these days since Efke went tits up a few weeks ago. I think there's a link to a picture of Jarche with his grandsons and a Purma on this forum if you search.

    Here he is in 1937 with what looks like a Contax round his neck: http://www.npg.org.uk/collections/s...-Reuben-Saidman?LinkID=mp11223&role=sit&rNo=0

    It's amazing how many Leicas, Contaxes and Rolleiflexes were in use by the allies in WW2 - Capa's famously knackered D-Day photos were taken on a Contax or a Leica and I know a Battle of Britain pilot who had a Super Ikonta as well.

    None of those are cheap (though Contaxes are the cheaper of the three). However, a period Rolleicord might fit the bill - and there were a great many Russian copies of German cameras that would look good enough from anything more than a couple of feet away. Both Fed and Zorki were Leica copies, and go for a fraction of the pirce of the real thing (though are considerably less likely to work reliably than the real thing), and the Kiev similarly is a Contax copy. Plenty of fakes made from Feds etc on Ebay (usually claiming to be the real thing...), and Moskva were Super Ikonta copies. If you don't mind something that is nearly right, as opposed to spot on, I'd investigate those.

    Any help?

  12. jchrisc

    jchrisc Well-Known Member

    Not till the mid fifties I believe. Ken Corfield is still around and on Face Book I think, so you could ask him . . . :)

    My impression at the time was that the absence of German cameras at the end of WWII drove an upsurge of camera manufacture in this country.

    I know that Reid and Sigrist were asked by the government to produce cameras based upon Leica drawings seized by British forces, but that was obviously after the end of WWII.
  13. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    Contax, and he had a Rolleiflex with him, too.
  14. P_Stoddart

    P_Stoddart Well-Known Member

  15. gray1720

    gray1720 Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the correction, Benchista - I knew it was one of the two.

    The 1940s pressman looks great fun but... I do try not to be rude about other people's English (honest!), but I do have to snigger at his "maim photo gallery". Sounds nasty, doesn't it?


    ( I would love to see him at Old Warden!)
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2012
  16. Roger_Provins

    Roger_Provins Well-Known Member

    During WW2 the government were actively seeking to buy quality German cameras and equipment.

    This advertisement was from R.G. Lewis but several others were also involved.

    Last edited: Sep 26, 2012
  17. EliseLeveque

    EliseLeveque Member

    Thanks all,

    I have seen the Ensign mentioned in several places now. And yes the Leica too. Quite interesting, but I guess they wanted to stop a war, not stop people from using things of German design. Thinking of it, it would be something Germans would do for things from other countries really.

    Roger_Provins: Very nice find on that ad! It would also be a nice thing I could print out and bring it with me during re-enactment to show people what the British Army wanted back then.

    Do you happen to have a link to the source?
  18. Roger_Provins

    Roger_Provins Well-Known Member

    I scanned it from one of the magazines in my collection.

    If I can help let me know.
  19. EliseLeveque

    EliseLeveque Member

    Aha thanks :)

    Well, if it's okay with you I'd like print out that part in a small card, just one copy for me to keep in my pocket, it would be great.

    It would be nice to know which magazine it is and when it was published if that is okay!
  20. Roger_Provins

    Roger_Provins Well-Known Member


    The date and mag, details are on it. Let me know if you want better or more.

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