35mm Photography - an American, NOT Leica Invention!
Old 02-03-2013   #1
CameraQuest
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35mm Photography - an American, NOT Leica Invention!

Well, we 2014 is staring us in the face now we survived the Mayan end of days. The 100th Anniversary of the Ur-Leica!

Already we have the Leica 99 year book proclaiming Leica's proud history and the UR-Leica as the first 35mm camera prototype.

Well, sorry gullible Leicanuts, not so fast.

35mm Photography is arguably an American invention far more than a Leica invention.

First of all, 35mm film was invented by two Americans: George Eastman of Kodak and Thomas Edison - for Edison's movie camera.

Leica likes to proudly proclaim Oscar's Barnack's work on the Ur-Leica prototype in 1914. OK, but it took Leitz 10 more years to bring it to market.

In that same year 1914, America already FOUR different 35mm cameras being offered for sale to the public in New York City!

The first was the half frame Tourist Multiple. But the star is arguably the Simplex. Available in THREE different models, the Simplex could switch back and forth between full frame and half frame pics. So while the Tourist Multiple is apparently the first 35mm camera offered to sale to the public, the Simplex is arguably the more important as it was the first with the now standard 24x36mm format. Neither camera seems to have survived much beyond 1914 - with WWI and all -- but nevertheless they were offered commercially for sale first in NYC - not Wetzlar.

This is not to take anything away from Oscar Barnack. His Leica was fabulously successful, far more than all of the other 35mm cameras to that time combined. Nevertheless, Leica certainly was not the first 35mm camera as it followed the American made Simplex to the marketplace by TEN years.

Come to think of it, there is also an interesting 35mm heritage angle here. For such a long time many people have viewed Wetzler as the ancestral home of 35mm Photography. Hmm. Maybe that proud crown should really go to New York City...

Stephen
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Old 02-03-2013   #2
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Those (or perhaps at least one of them) cameras offered both still and short-sequence motion captures! Just like many of the digicams today where movie modes have become standard features.
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Old 02-04-2013   #3
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An age ago someone posted a link to site which listed quite a few pre Leica early 35mm still cameras. Might have been an Italian site? Anyone?
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Pre-Leica era 35mm Cameras (Link)
Old 02-04-2013   #4
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Pre-Leica era 35mm Cameras (Link)

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Originally Posted by Dralowid View Post
An age ago someone posted a link to site which listed quite a few pre Leica early 35mm still cameras. Might have been an Italian site? Anyone?
Here:

http://corsopolaris.net/supercameras...early_135.html
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Old 02-04-2013   #5
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First of all, 35mm film was invented by two Americans: George Eastman of Kodak and Thomas Edison - for Edison's movie camera.
Americans maybe - but only as a minor part of a major picture. And least of all by Eastman and Edison, who, if any, were more like the Bill Gates and Steve Jobs of the 19th century, and only serve as good examples that in the end even poor judgement in technical matters cannot stop the rich (and ruthless) business men from winning out against the inventors.

Eastman had acquired the patents for paper based "stripping" film from William Hall Walker (by hiring and later firing him), and later stole celluloid based film from the predecessors of Ansco when that proved superior to his stripping film. Kodak eventually lost the biggest patent infringement case of the period against Ansco, but had already established their film format/camera tie ins so firmly that it barely harmed them. Eastman's main personal contribution to what we'd consider film today was razor-and-blades marketing.

And Edison did not have that much to do with early cinematography either, other than to believe it to be useless and not marketable, and fire the inventor of 35mm perforated celluloid film, Franco-British William Dickson, from his company for wasting too much time over it. But even the latter did not invent film as a whole - that has to be attributed to Eadward Muybridge (who did the first moving images), and Luis le Prince (for the first motion pictures on a sequential paper film strip).
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Old 02-04-2013   #6
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Something I was told long ago that you might know about.. That the camera industry stationed itself in Germany and Japan as those were where the beaches were that contained optical grade sand? A Nikon employee told me of fenced and guarded beaches held by Nippon Kōgaku.
That must have been the bathing beach of the senior management. ;-)

At least Germany (with a tiny shoreline and mostly iron rich alluvial sands) is no particularly good source for optical grade sand, and most of the sand in its glass making regions is worse than average - if any, the lousy quality of the local sand might have inspired its glass makers to research into refining it. It is rather unlikely that Japan was more dependent on natural resources, even more so as they started out much later.
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Old 02-04-2013   #7
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And Edison did not have that much to do with early cinematography either, other than to believe it to be useless and not marketable, and fire the inventor of 35mm perforated celluloid film, Franco-British William Dickson, from his company for wasting too much time over it. But even the latter did not invent film as a whole - that has to be attributed to Eadward Muybridge (who did the first moving images), and Luis le Prince (for the first motion pictures on a sequential paper film strip).
Don't forget Etienne-Jules Marey!
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Old 02-04-2013   #8
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Thanks for that link. Very interesting web page.


PS: "North Central Mass. ? " . . . . I'm in Leominster !
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Old 02-04-2013   #9
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Wasn't 35mm film simply an 'accidental' format derived from slitting the original 70mm wide Kodak film and splicing the ends together? The film of the original Kodak was quite long- enough to make 100 exposures. Or is this also a tale?
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Old 02-04-2013   #10
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Originally Posted by ZorkiKat View Post
Wasn't 35mm film simply an 'accidental' format derived from slitting the original 70mm wide Kodak film and splicing the ends together? The film of the original Kodak was quite long- enough to make 100 exposures. Or is this also a tale?
Probably the latter as the original Kodak 101 film had 3 1/2" square images, so it would have been about 90mm wide. Going by the Wikipedia list, 116 is the first 70mm wide film - and that did not appear until after 35mm cine.
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Old 02-04-2013   #11
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Originally Posted by daveleo View Post
Thanks for that link. Very interesting web page.


PS: "North Central Mass. ? " . . . . I'm in Leominster !
So you have one on the left of the pond? How do you pronounce yours?

'Lemster?'

Michael (who has an interest in these things)
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Old 02-04-2013   #12
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This is what I found about Jens Poul Andersen of Denmark with the first 35mm camera.
http://corsopolaris.net/supercameras/early/early_135.html

There were a number of 35mm still cameras using perforated movie film prior to the Leica. The first patent for one was issued to Leo, Audobard and Baradat in England in 1908. The first full scale production camera was the Homeos, a stereo camera, produced by Jules Richard in 1913. It took stereo pairs, 18x24 mm, with two Tessar lenses. It was sold until 1920. The first 35mm big seller was the American Tourist Multiple, also appearing in 1913. The camera cost $175 in 1913. By today's standards that's the equal of a $3000 Leica. The first camera to take full frame 24x36mm exposures seems to be the Simplex, introduced in the U.S. in 1914. It took either 800 half frame or 400 full frame shots on 50 ft. rolls. The Minigraph, by Levy- Roth of Berlin, another half frame small camera was sold in Germany in 1915. The patent for the Debrie Sept camera, a combination 35mm still and movie camera was issued in 1918, but was not marketed until 1922. Finally the Furet camera, made and sold in France in 1923 took full frame 24x36mm negatives and was the first cheap small 35mm camera to look vaguely like today's models. Although Oskar Barnack designed his prototype camera around 1913, the first experimental production run of ur-Leicas (Serial No. 100 to 130) did not take place until 1923.

Jens Poul Andersen 35 mm camera - 1905 This one of the four 35 mm cameras built in 1905 by Jens Poul Andersen in Nellerod, Denmark: The simple lens on the 1905 Andersen 35 mm camera consists of two plano-convex lens elements mounted in a brass barrel with provision for four fixed aperture settings of f/5, f/8, f/10 and f/15. The guillotine shutter provides a single shutter speed of 1/100 sec. The camera body is made of mahogany wood and has the shape of a flat box (somewhat like a brick) with the dimensions of 208 x 45 x 85 mm. The camera weighs 500 grams. It accepts a maximun of 20 m of perforated 35 mm film, enough for apprximately 300 exposures. The format is 24 x 60 mm.


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Old 02-04-2013   #13
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That was an interesting read. Thanks.
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Old 02-04-2013   #14
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Originally Posted by Dralowid View Post
So you have one on the left of the pond? How do you pronounce yours?

'Lemster?'

Michael (who has an interest in these things)
Over here we speak our own version of "English" . . . we say "Leminster".

Some outsiders from nearby towns apply the New England accent and say "Leminsta", but we roll our eyes and forgive them.
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Old 02-04-2013   #15
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Where are the good spots on the globe for quality sand?
I suppose the mouths of rivers flowing from a quartzite rich mountain might qualify, if there is no source of additional impurities. But they'll probably use mined quartzite.

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I was told (by the same Nikon employee) that when first making ED Glass, the failure rate was 80%. They would remelt the lens blanks and begin anew. This is the sand - the stuff for ED Glass, that has a section of beach fenced and guarded.
Even more strange. ED glass is made from lanthanum and zirconium oxides, which do not occur in pure form in placer deposits, and do not seem to be mined anywhere in Japan.

I suppose that all optical glass makers will start out with refined silica and minerals bought in rather than raw sand and ore that they refine themselves. Getting into mining and minerals processing themselves would be way out of any profitable scale considering the small amount of glass actually needed for lenses. If any, the Japanese makers will be supplied by the mining and chemistry companies within the same Keiretsu.
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Old 02-04-2013   #16
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Oh, and don't forget that lenses and screws were invented by Assyrians...without them no camera would exist

Come on guys, all modern inventions are a new idea built over a million of old ones, what's the point of this "competition" anyway?

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Old 02-04-2013   #17
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No-one (except a few very dim Leica boosters) would pretend it's a Leica invention. The first production 35mm still cameras were American too (Simplex, Tourist Multiple). But there were plenty of other 35mm still cameras before the Leica. See A History of the 35mm Still Camera 1912-1967, Focal Press, 1984,not totally comprehensive, but still pretty good.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 02-04-2013   #18
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Quote:
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No-one (except a few very dim Leica boosters) would pretend it's a Leica invention. The first production 35mm still cameras were American too (Simplex, Tourist Multiple). But there were plenty of other 35mm still cameras before the Leica. See A History of the 35mm Still Camera 1912-1967, Focal Press, 1984,not totally comprehensive, but still pretty good.

Cheers,

R.
yes indeed, but reading the 99 year book does not ode well for Leica's likely take next year for the 100th Ur-Leica Anniversary.

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Old 02-04-2013   #19
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Over here we speak our own version of "English" . . . we say "Leminster".

Some outsiders from nearby towns apply the New England accent and say "Leminsta", but we roll our eyes and forgive them.
I find it interesting that US usage is sometimes more archaic or long winded...or even more 'historical' than what we done spoke 'ere.

OK Mr Featherstonehaugh, I'll let Mr Chomodenley-Warner know about Wuster sauce.

Apologies for spelling, spell check ain't much use with this lot!
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Old 02-04-2013   #20
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The 35mm concept ... a still camera based on using the cine film roll ... was kind of a natural as soon as there was cine roll film. Several cameras were based on the Pathe 9mm cine film too.

It was Oskar Barnack who set the standard and the Leica popularized the concept in 35mm, just as it was Walter Zapp who took the idea of the 9mm Pathe cine film still camera and made it work as the Minox a decade later (although he didn't use the Pathe film).

History favors the successful. The rest are all but forgotten.

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