Book Review – A History Of Photography In 50 Cameras by Michael Pritchard

A History Of Photography In 50 Cameras - Michael Pritchard.

A History Of Photographer in 50 Cameras , by Michael Pritchard, FRPS. Richmond Hill, Ontario: Firefly Books Ltd., 2015. 224 pages. ISBN-13: 978-1-77085-590-8
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  Several weeks ago I was contacted by the publisher Firefly books to see if I would like to do a book review. As a photographer, ‘camera tinkerer’, I always like to read about anything photography-wise, so I thought I’d give it a try. The title of the book is A History Of Photography In 50 Cameras, written by Michael Pritchard, FRPS (stands for Fellowship of the Royal Photographic Society). Dr Pritchard is the director-general of The Royal photographic Society (U.K.), one of the oldest and most well-respected photographic societies in the world. According to the publisher’s and author’s own website, he, “has over thirty years experience as a researcher of photographic history and technology. He has written and lectured extensively and was awarded the Fellowship of the Royal Photographic Society for his work on the history of photography. He has contributed to numerous journals and publications, including The Oxford Companion to the Photograph and the Encyclopaedia of Nineteenth-Century Photography.”
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  The book explores 50 cameras that played a huge role in photographic history placed in chronological order. The listing gives us a closer look at each camera, adding stories and photos about its inception, development, specs, inventors, and the photographers who made each camera popular. Cameras included are: the Giroux Daguerreotype, Sutton Panoramic, Ticka, Kodak Brownie, Leica 1, Canon Hansa, Kina Exakta, Polaroid Land Model 95, Nikon F, Spotmatic, Konica C35AF, and the Apple Quick Take 100. ( For a complete list of cameras, visit the table of contents on the publisher’s website ).
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  Alright, by now it sounds too much like a boring college paper. Let’s change the tone and let’s talk about what I think about the book. First of all, I was expecting a physically large book. To my surprise, it’s a regular size book – 6 3/4″ X 9″ X 7/8″ – that fits nicely on the book shelf or in my drawer. This book only has a hard cover version, a feature which I always appreciate. Now, while I am not a paper expert, I felt the book is printed nicely on good quality paper and the font size is easily read. Before the book arrived, there were a couple questions in my mind. First of all, who wrote this book? As in “Do I have to check the facts and try to find a factual error?”. Well, with the credentials the author presented, it’s a no brainer. We can immediately throw that question out the window. Secondly, I was wondering, “Why do I want to read a book about 50 cameras while the specifications of most cameras are readily available online?” After I read a few chapters in, I figured out why. It wasn’t a book just about specs, a long-winded (or on the other hand, incomplete) article about the camera manufacturers that you usually find online. Each chapter covers the complete history of and related to the camera in a well-written and condensed format. It tells stories and facts about the inventors, how it was conceived, the designs, it’s impact on photographic history, and the people who used them. Aside from the photos of each camera, you will also find photos and illustrations of their inventors and samples from that camera. To me each of the sections are complete stories about each camera that I can enjoy without clicking 20 or more different links to attempt to gather the same information.
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  By the way, the photo of Dennis Hopper holding a Nikon F sure made me smile. He is one of my favorite photographer, and actor.

Dennis Hopper Nikon F

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  We have to keep in mind that this book is about the history of photography through these 50 cameras. It is not a “the best 50 cameras list”. It’s a list of cameras that the author chose because he felt those cameras made a big impact on the photographic history. Surely he probably could have written about 51 cameras, or 82 cameras, but lets just say that every camera chosen deserved to be on the list. Ok, I would love to see the Minolta Maxxum 7000 on the list, but I am equally satisfied with the 50 that are currently on the list.
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 By the way, this book does talk about a few digital cameras, such as the Sony Mavica, yes those 1.44MB floppy disk digital cameras, or the Apple quick take 100, but it concentrates heavily on film cameras, obviously. So if you are a photographic historian or a film camera buff, you will find yourself very happy with this book. Another fun thing to do is check off which cameras you own on the table of contents, or, make a wish list. For instance, I just learned about the Ticka from this book, it’s a camera that looks like a pocket watch that is definitely going on my wish list. Well, that and the Thornton-Pickard Mark III Hythe Camera Gun, who doesn’t want a gun shaped camera.
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  As a fellow photographic enthusiast, I highly recommend this book. You will always find something new that you didn’t know about photographic history in a readily available and condensed form, I know I did.

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You can get this book from the publisher’s website, or from other online retailers.
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This review is not endorsed nor paid for by the publisher or any other parties.
(I wish someone did.)
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9 thoughts on “Book Review – A History Of Photography In 50 Cameras by Michael Pritchard

  1. The book may be added to my Christmas wish list. More importantly, I await the Straight No Chaser review of the Minolta Maxxum 7000. 🙂

      • Personally, I love using the 7000 handed down from my mother about 3 years ago. She purchased it new by trading in her analog Minolta gear (not sure of the model), but could not catch on to the digital aspect. I also use the AF 50 lens that came with the 7000 for great shots when I take the Maxxum 7 out for a spin around the block. She is happy the 7000 is going to good use.

        • Those 7000 are nice, and they are so 80s. Ah you have a maxxum 7? those are very good cameras. I don’t mind a maxxum 9 myself. Tip, you might want to look up a maxxum 5 ( or I can hook you up, and they should be dirty cheap ). Look at the dimension, they are so small I think it will fit into your saddle bags nicely.

    • Yes I read that before I when I was writing mine . You beat me by a couple days . Yes I noticed the book been out for a year perhaps it went un noticed when it came out . I mean I haven’t heard about it before , must be hard to market a book these days .

      • Hi Derek, very true about marketing books these days since most people are reading on their pads. I think the book would be much better if it were a large coffee table type book. At least we have nice copies for our collection 🙂

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