This was the first camera I owned. Well not that one exactly, but this type. I received it for my ninth birthday in, gulp, 1963.
I don’t believe it came with a manual as it was so utterly basic. There was no focusing, no exposure settings, certainly no filters. Framing choices were limited to square.
It was case of: point, shoot and hope for the best.
Perfect for an enthusiastic nine year old!
Perhaps because of this early viewfinder, I always “see” my images as squares, even when using a rectangular viewfinder. Square format came back into fashion during the Polaroid era, and now Instagram has brought it back. That’s nice — makes it easier to find frames!
However, I do like to think I “invented” the one and only thing you could do to vary my square photographic universe — the “groundbreaking” Diamond Shot.
The good old Instamatic, although technically rather stunted, was super portable. It travelled with me through schooldays, university, and moving to Canada.
It’s portability, in the end, proved to be its downfall. While tree planting in a particularly gorgeous spot near Mount Robson, I decided to bring the camera with me to the top of a “run” so I could get a photo of the view. Sadly, the only place to carry it was in my tree bag, where it got wet from the peat moss meant to keep the trees moist and alive. As I advanced the film for the last shot, the lever made a sort of grinding noise from the particulate matter in there.
Still, the film did come out, and this is the very last photo on the roll. Great view, right?
It was a sad goodbye to an old companion, but that Instamatic had been a trusty friend for almost twenty years, so I really couldn’t complain. Plus, well … wet peat moss …
After some brief flirtations with Canon and Minolta models, I finally settled on an Olympus OM-1 film camera to replace the old Kodak. No automatic features, but tons of fun to be had playing with f-stops, film speed and exposure length. I’m still using an Olympus — now the digital variety. I’m on my third model after “killing” the first two, both times without the aid of wet peat moss!
Ah, they really do not make ’em like they used to.