Lawrence Harvey on his favourite pieces from Retromania

The Kodak Jiffy (1935)

The Kodak Jiffy (1935)

Being a self-confessed collector of, among other things, cameras, I don’t think it’s actually possible to pin-point one favourite item from this book, as each individual piece has its own merits.  Whereas some collectors feel the need to attain every single manufactured piece from certain companies or ‘must have’ that ludicrously expensive antique, the beauty of the Retromania collection is that just about every camera in it is easily obtainable at affordable prices – most being discovered in charity shops or grandad’s attic.

Wembley Sports (1950)

Wembley Sports (1950)

And that’s the thing – these ‘gems’ pop up everywhere.

If I randomly pick some out from our timeline, we can go from the Bakelite beauty that is the Kodak Jiffy with its glorious Art Deco style and polished good looks (found in a charity shop) to the laugh-out-loud “Wembley Sports”. It epitomises cumbersome, knockabout and optimistic photography.

Both are valid, both have been manufactured in similar material, both started life on the designer’s drawing board and made it into production. The difference is that one was made by one of the biggest photographic companies of all time, with almost infinite resources, whilst the other by a company that made audio equipment and has plunged into the obscurity abyss. (Mind you, the same could be said of Kodak as we approach 2013 – who would have thought?)

Halina Prefect 1957

The Halina Prefect (1957)


Another “find” was at a garage sale locally where, encased in a filthy battered original box, was a truly immaculate, mint-condition Halina Prefect camera that seemed to radiate even more when we photographed it, almost as if it was relieved to be released from its dingy dungeon.

Argus C3 1939-66)

The Argus C3 (1939-66)


The Argus C3 sticks in my mind, not just because it is such a whacky piece with all those scientific dials, but because it had a production run over almost 3 decades and sold more than 2 million units.


Ilford Sprite (1962)

The Ilford Sprite (1962)

What also makes items ‘special’ is when they’re found complete with manuals, in the original packaging. An Ilford Sprite ‘gift pack’ found in a house clearance was one such piece. The box was clean and still contained original, unopened film. They sold tens of thousands of these (normally during the summer holidays at the seafront) and yet I’d wager that very few exist, complete, in the boxes.


Lomo Lubitel 1981

The Lomo Lubitel (1981) original packaging


"Cine Vue" (1960s)



Two other items worthy of mention – certainly because of the allure of the packaging – are the Lomo Lubitel  purchased way back in the 1980s in a photographic shop in Clapham and the glossily illustrated “Cine Vue” found in a junk shop.



You’ll never know what you can unearth until you start looking …


Lawrence Harvey is the author of Retromania, coming soon to a bookshop near you
(and available now to pre-order on Amazon)



Posted by

Rachel Silverlight

Assistant Editor at Ilex Photo, Rachel's made just about every mistake it's possible to make with a camera from lens caps left on to films not loaded. All in all, better at looking at photos than taking them.

5 Comments to Lawrence Harvey on his favourite pieces from Retromania

  1. Tabs's Gravatar Tabs
    November 30, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    Looking good! Sad to see you left out the spice girls special edition Polaroid you bought me! Thanks for being our inspiring camera man and constantly shoving a camera in our faces… We’re glad you did now…”Dont point that thing at me!!” (As I jump into your shot!)

    PRE ORDER your copies now lense nerds!
    (Non-Nerds also welcome)

    Your no.1 fan!

  2. Elliot's Gravatar Elliot
    November 30, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    Simply marvellous! I love the artwork used to sell the cameras, such classics! Can’t wait to get my hands on the book…

  3. BobW's Gravatar BobW
    December 7, 2012 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    I have zero interest in cameras (old or new) but you have made the subject seem almost cool… Beautifully designed with an amusing narrative, the book looks like a winner to me. Well done!

  4. December 7, 2012 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    This might just make my stocking filler! Looking forward to reading up on all those cameras you thought you’d have one day. Hope my contribution was helpful.

  5. Rachel's Gravatar Rachel
    December 11, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    Wow, finally a comprehensive tribute to the journey of the humble camera! Great illustrations make this a must have Christmas present for anyone. I will be buying this for my dad who remembers spending hours in a dark room knee deep in smelly chemicals.

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