There was a time when America made some of the worlds best cameras and lenses.
Believe it or not, many of the most interesting cameras ever produced were made in the good old USA. Most of them were simple to use, all mechanical, stylish and made great images.
Some were copies of German engineering while others where uniquely American designs. Argus is one American company that had a huge hand in making 35mm film cassettes popular.
Few people realize that Kodak invented digital photography in the United States.
Rochester, NY, Ann Arbor MI, Binghampton NY, Chicago IL, Milwaukee WI, and New York NY used to compete with camera manufacturers from Stuttgart, Munich, Dresden and Tokyo. American companies such as Argus, Ansco, Kodak, Bolsey, David White, Wollensak, Polaroid, and many others were household names in the days of film.
Bolsey Camera Corporation, New York, U.S.A.
The Bolsey is a great little camera that was made in NY in the late 40’s to the mid 50’s.
These are great little cameras to collect, to shoot, and to admire. I use mine with film and find that they are very capable of producing beautiful retro style images.
Bolsey B 1947 (without double exposure prevention)…pictured above was introduced in 1947. The 35mm design was made of cast aluminum and had a tessar type WOLLENSAK F3.2/44MM lens made in Rochester. NY. The leaf type shutter had a range of apertures from f3.5 – 22. Shutters were built with T and B settings and had typical shutter speeds of 1/10 of a second to 1/200.
1949 (with Double exposure prevention) …in the gallery was exactly the same camera, except for the incorporation of a pin, which prevented double exposures. Normal usage meant that the film had to be advanced before a second exposure could be made. The mechanism could be intentionally overridden to allow multiple exposures.
Note: Some models of the B and B2 were produced for the military and were painted black or green. The Air Force had a model that looked more like a civilian camera but with a military designation.
Bolsey C TLR
and Rangefinder 1952…shown in the gallery, was almost the same as the B series with the exception of a redesigned top plate, which incorporated a second lens assembly and a vertical viewfinder.
The top lens allowed focusing on a ground glass. It is one of a very few 35mm TLR cameras ever produced. What is even more interesting is that it still has a rangefinder and viewfinder as employed by the B series.
1955 was a more modern looking camera with a German Steinheil lens and a redesigned shutter. It also had a top shutter button and film advance.
Bolsey Camera produced other models including ciné and medium format.
As I mentioned above, besides collecting them, I actually use them to make real old fashion film images.
The Bolsey Corporation went bankrupt in 1956 after producing cameras for about seven years. It could not compete against German and Japanese cameras, which were flooding the market at the time.
“Jacque Bolsky first started designing cameras in 1923 in Switzerland. The first unit was the Cinegraph Bol. He followed with the Bolec which was later renamed the Bolex. Then he designed the Bolca which became the Bolsey Reflex and then was sold to a Swiss company to become the Alpa.
Bolsky emigrated to the U.S. after the war, changed his name to Bolsey, and started designing cameras around the Wollensack lens/shutter. He wanted affordable, well made cameras. The Bolsey Model B and Model C’s accomplished those goals handily.
The first were made by Pignons SA (Alpa) but the later ones were made by the Obex Corporation of NY. Unfortunately the imports from Japan and Germany were too much for him and he closed his factory doors in 1956.” – http://photoethnography.com/ClassicCameras/BolseyC22.html BolseyC22
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