You might think that an odd phrase – after all, how can a utilitarian object like a camera be ugly? It can be efficient or not, well-made or not, well-equpipped or not…but beauty is not really an attribute that it needs.
Okay, whiskey isn’t really something I need, but there are times of the day when it is welcome. Likewise beautiful design in cameras.
Or not. We have all seen some photo apparatus that is remarkably ugly, though we might not have realised it at the time. Here is a selection of ten of my all-time lows:
The Argus C-3 – if there was any saving grace in the classic “brick” it was a consistent desire to do things in the most awkward manner. Some say that this was because of the manufacturing processes of the period and some say that it was to avoid patents that had been taken up by smarter makers. I think it was just a native lack of thought on the part of the designers.
The Bolex H16 and H8 – classics, functional, responsible for thousands of miles of important film…but as awkward a box as ever came out. How this emerged from a state known for its elegant design of watches beats me. I think it must have been the rarified air that starved their brains of oxygen. Note that this does not apply if you have 8 arms like a Hindu god – then you can operate all the stuff they stuck on it.
The Polaroid Pronto, and about half a dozen of their other latter-day plastic cameras. They were what they were, and what they were was ugly and awkward. Some argue that they had to be that shape to make the physics of the thing work, but no-one who looked at the handles and squeeze knobs ever felt good.
The Hasselblad Lunar – I think the Swedes would have been better off drinking heavily, writing depressing stage plays, and committing suicide than bringing this thing out. It has garnered the success it deserved.
Petri Reflex – my first reflex was to throw it as far from me as I could and then turn and flee.
The Lubitel TLRs -If you are going to steal a design, at least steal a good one. If have opted to steal a bad one, at least make it out of good materials. If you have made it out of plastic and pressed tin, at least have the goodness to sell it very cheaply and be modest about it. Or ignore all the above if you are LOMO. Well the soviets had to get in on this list somewhere, didn’t they?
Mamiya RB and RZ 67 cameras – Dodging patents again, I suspect, and trying to be all things to all men. The size of a washing machine and about twice as heavy. Puzzling interlocks and procedures. And eventually you stopped wanting to work out the puzzle.
Bolsey Model C – You had to have real bols to think you could get away with this one, Bolsey, but then again you got away with the Model B…Get away…
Kodak Medalist – If this is a Medalist, what medal does it deserve? Purple Heart? Ouch.
Sony Alpha A7 – Ugly? How could you say this is ugly? It is sleek, stylish, and modern…Okay…put your finger on the shutter release, if you can. Keep trying. Almost there…Got it! Now massage the feeling back into your finger and get ready for the next shot. Only 500 more to go.
You’ll all get the idea now. Make up your own lists and send them through to the reply section on the blog and I’ll post them as well.