Photography / Buying Guide

12 of the Strangest, Weirdest Cameras Sold at B&H

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There’s no law that says cameras must look boring. Not that there’s anything wrong with boring-looking cameras, but there’s something to be said about a camera that turns heads out of curiosity, intrigue, confusion, or a combination of the three.

The following cameras are “statement makers” that are guaranteed to turn heads and, better yet, elicit wonderful smiles.

Question: What looks like a bullfrog and spits out Polaroid 600 prints when you give it a squeeze? You got it—the Impossible Polaroid 600 Round Instant Camera. The Impossible Polaroid 600 Round Instant Camera features a 106mm lens that focuses down to 2', has a shutter range of 1/3-second to a blistering 1/200-second, and an aperture range of f/14 to f/42.

The Impossible Polaroid 600 Round Instant Camera

Definitely more rakish is Ilford’s HARMAN TiTAN 4x5" Pinhole Camera. A pinhole camera designed for use with 4 x 5" film holders, the HARMAN TiTAN is made of injection-molded ABS plastic with stainless-steel fittings, built-in spirit levels, and dual ¼"-20 thread mounts. Included with the camera body is a 72mm / f/206 (wide-angle) lens/aperture cone and a pinhole exposure calculator. Optional 110mm and 150mm cones are also available.

Ilford HARMAN TiTAN 4 x 5" Pinhole Camera

A hold-over from last year’s holiday review of oddball cameras, the Impossible I-1 Instant Film Camera is the first in-house-designed camera sold by the Impossible Project. Previous Impossible Project cameras were refurbished Polaroid cameras, along with a limited number of new cameras left behind when Polaroid went belly-up.

Impossible I-1 Instant Film Camera

The Impossible I-1 accepts 600 and I-Type instant film cartridges that output prints with square, 3.1 x 3.1" image areas. Other features include an 82 to 109mm lens, a 5-zone autofocus system, and an LED Ringflash.

Impossible B&W Instant Film for I-Type

Exposure control consists of lighten/darken and flash on/off controls. You also have the options of switching the camera to manual mode for total hands-on operation or controlling the camera using your smartphone via Bluetooth connection. There’s even a Noise Trigger for triggering the shutter by clapping your hands. Sound like fun? Operators are standing buy.

Does the intense detail of image-stabilized 4K video get you down? Maybe it’s time to park your GoPro in the garage and head out with a Lomography LomoKino 35mm film camera. This hand-cranked, 35mm motion-picture film camera is a throwback from the days of silent movies. You get 144 movie frames on a 36-exposure roll of film, which with an average crank rate of 3 to 5 frames per second works out to motion-picture epics lasting between 28.8 to 48 seconds per roll. For more extensive story lines, you can splice-in additional 36-exposure rolls.

Lomography LomoKino 35mm Film Camera

Another holdover from last year is the Lomography Belair X 6-12 Jetsetter Medium Format Camera Kit with 35mm Back.This is the type of camera you want if your vacation plans include driving around the Italian countryside on a Vespa, circa 1957.

Novelty factor aside, the Lomography Belair X 6-12 Jetsetter offers a choice of two lenses (a 58mm wide-angle and a longer 90mm lens) and two film formats. Sporting a satin metal folding body with brown leatherette wrap around the beltline, the camera can be configured to shoot 6 x 6 cm, 6x9 cm, or 6 x 12 cm stills onto 120-format film. Swap out the camera’s 120 film back for the 35mm film back and you can now shoot 35mm panoramas with 3:1 aspect ratios.

Lomography Belair X 6-12 Jetsetter Medium Format Camera Kit with 35mm Back

The actual AoV of each lens depends on which format you’re shooting. In keeping with Lomography’s less-is-more philosophy, focusing is by zone (3.3', 4.9', 9.8', ∞). The aperture range of Lomography’s Belair X 6-12 Jetsetter is an underwhelming f/8-16, but fear not—B&H still carries fast Lomography film.

Lomography LomoChrome Purple XR 100-400 Color Negative Film

At first glance, the Yi Technology M1 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera looks suspiciously like an APS-C or MFT-format camera from Sony or Olympus. Available in a choice of Ice Silver or Storm Black, the M1 features a 20.2MP Sony-made MFT CMOS sensor, 4K video @ 30 fps, an 81-point contrast-detect AF system, built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, ISO sensitivity up to 25600, 5 fps burst-rates, and a skin-friendly Arnitel thermoplastic body. So, what you might ask qualifies the Yi Technology M-1 as being odd, weird, or strange? Well, you can purchase the camera with a 12-40mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom lens for less than $300.

The Yi Technology M1 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera

Something tells me the DxO ONE Digital Camera with Wi-Fi will forever be on this list. To use this able, though odd device, you have to download the free DxO One app, plug the DxO One camera module into the Lightning connector of your iOS device, and voilà! You’re now capturing higher-res images through a 32mm equivalent f/1.8 lens and recording them onto a Sony 1" 20.2MP BSI-CMOS sensor.

The DxO One features shutter speeds up to 1/20,000 of a second, ISO sensitivity up to 51,200, contrast-detect AF with Face Detection, and the option to output JPEGs, DNG, or DxO SuperRAW files for maximized resolving power and image quality. About the only thing the DxO One doesn’t improve is your phone reception.

DxO ONE Digital Camera with Wi-Fi

Last year, we featured this miniaturized Leica in chrome. This year, it’s available in black. Happy days! If you can’t afford (or justify) purchasing a vintage Leica M-series camera, how’s about a mini replica with a 14MP imaging sensor for a couple of hundred bucks?

The Minox DCC 14.0 Digital Camera is tiny (3.2 x 1.8 x 2.6"), weighs a scant 4 oz, and features a 14MP CMOS sensor, a 7.4mmf/2.4 (43mm equivalent) lens, and 3-point zone focusing. For composing pictures, the Minox DCC 14.0 has a top-mounted optical viewfinder, a 2" LCD for reviewing your pictures, and records still images and 640 x 480 video onto SD / SDHC memory cards.

Cutesy size aside, the best part of owning a Minox DCC 14.0 digital camera is that if anybody should ever ask you if you own a Leica, you can cock an eyebrow and answer, “Yes.”

Minox DCC 14.0 Digital Camera

The Arca-Swiss M-Monolith 4 x 5 View Camera is a camera you approach with respect. Visually, it oozes serious precision and that’s exactly what it’s designed for when shooting architecture, studio still-life, and other photographic assignments that require the ability to adjust and/or correct the visual dynamics of a photograph meticulously.

Fully modular, Arca’s M-Monolith features fully geared movements, +/- 70mm front and rear rise, +/- 70mm front and rear shift, geared Orbix center-axis tilt for 100% yaw-free corrections, and a conical 380mm bellows. This French-made picture-taking machine can be used with film and digital backs and lenses. And if 4 x 5" is enough real estate for your needs, the M-Monolith is available in 5 x 7" and 8 x 10".

Arca-Swiss M-Monolith 4 x 5" View Camera

Thanks to incredibly light-sensitive imaging sensors, modern digital cameras can literally see in the dark. In the case of Holga’s HolgaGlo 120N Glows in the Dark camera, it’s the camera you can see in the dark. Available in a choice of Aura Orange or Solar Yellow, Holga’s glow-in-the-dark cameras are available in 35mm and medium-format (6 x 6 cm or 6 x 4.5 cm) versions. The medium-format version has a fixed 60mm f/8 plastic lens, and the 35mm version has a fixed 47mm f/8 plastic lens. Batteries are not included, but that’s because the cameras don’t need batteries.

Holga HolgaGlo Glows in the Dark Camera

Tired of buying pre-assembled cameras? Me too! That’s why I’ve been thinking about buying a Lomography Konstruktor F Do-it-Yourself 35mm Film SLR Camera Kit. The kit includes a 50mm f/10 fixed-aperture lens (sorry… no fancy bokeh from this slowpoke…), a hooded waist-level viewfinder, fully manual focusing and exposure control, a PC connector for flash, and a bunch of stickers you can plaster across the body if black plastic exteriors don’t cut it for you.

Lomography Konstruktor F Do-it-Yourself 35mm Film SLR Camera Kit

What better camera to close this article than the Avangard Optics Smiling Face Brooch Spy Camera  is a 1.85" brooch that covertly records stills, audio, and 720 x 480 @ 30fps video within a 33' range of its smiley face. Avangard Optics’ brooch spy camera cam be pinned to you jacket, shirt, shoulder bag, hat, or backpack. Depending on how well you can keep a straight face, it can also be used as a rather creepy camcorder for interview or ENG purposes.

 “Smiley” contains a lithium-ion battery that provides up to two hours of recording time on microSD cards up to 16GB. Imagery can be output directly from the brooch via USB/AV cable (included) for playback on a TV or monitor.

Avangard Optics Smiling Face Brooch Spy Camera

Do you know of any an oddball cameras we might have missed? Let us know in the Comments section, below!

27 Comments

Since your article was originally written, the Holga Stereo camera has been discontinued. I looked for it with interest since the family camera that was used as I was growing up was the Stereo Realist & the film was Kodachrome (ASA 25). It took beautiful photographs of a quality that cannot be duplicated by any other. 

The only problem that I have encountered but not solved is how to make copies of my childhood slides. Normally a slide is removed from its holder, duplicated & then remounted. I haven't figured out how to do that yet without losing the 3D effect when remounting the stereo slide. Would you have a suggestion or know of a service that can do this? 

If your goal is to simply duplicate the images for printing/display, then you could copy them without unmounting them in a stand-alone scanner, such as my Microtek Scanner(Old School) which will copy both negative and positive transparent images in B&W and color from 35mm half frame up to 4" x 5". I have "jury-rigged" copying adapters for several non-standard items. It does require sophisticated software such as Silverfastby LaserSoft Imaging. The biggest drawback is keeping the dust level under control.

"Moi j'ai dit bizarre? Comme c'est bizarre"... (Louis Jouvet in Drôle de Drame (Marcel Carné)) ... Bizarre means "werd" in french)

In fact, some of these cameras are... Bizarres...

The Minox DCC14 is a pure wonder I'd like to play with...

Just a little question, may I submit a list of old cameras between 1895 and 1950 I own to know more histories about its and the actual cotation?

Thanks for your advise.

"WEIRD" and not werd, sorry for the mistake. :)

Thanks for your feedback Patrick.

As for your list of old cameras, I suggest you start by Googling each of the cameras and see what comes up.

There are a number of sites that specialize in camera history

Good luck and I hope you have something rare in your collection!

AW

Hi Allan, Thanks for your response, I begin to search such sites.

Happy new year to all staff!

Pat

Nice collection of toys.

Thanks for the article. It is amusing and interesting. The Mint Camera brings back memories. You referred its appearance to being similar to a Rollei or Yashicamat. I agree but it also looks like a Richoflex. My father gave me his old Richoflex many years ago to use as my first camera.

You obviously have never heard of a LUBITEL! (6x6) Proudly made in the USSR., with Jena glass. PERFECT glass; lousy camera. U$20 including leather look camera bag. After a day of using that camera, you needed treatment for blisters on your fingers because of adjusting the lens and on your thumb for pushing the trigger. 

We sure have heard of the Lubitel, but this article was about cameras we currently stock and the Lubitel is no longer in production.

Great camera though...

AW

It's interesting that such a high percentage are instant-picture cameras. Unfortunately, none of them is a particularly good camera, or suited for "serious" photography.

Hey William,

The Leica M-D is a pretty serious camera in my book, and when used within their inherent 'limitations, each of these cameras are capable of taking 'serious' photographs.

Remember - the camera doesn't make the photographer, but a true photographer can take a photograph with an oatmeal container with a pinhole aperture if he/she understands the limitations and capabilities of the capture device.

Thanks for tuning in and have a swell holiday season!

AW

Well said and thank you Mr. Weitz!  Too many are hung up on the latest, greatest equipment.  There are historical photos that are seriously amazing, made with little more than pinholes.  But I do love the new gadgets!

Hey Jeff -

Between me and you I also love the new gadgets but let's keep this between us... thanks...

AW

The AVANGARD spy camera must have additional skins because anyone who sees the ad for it, will know it is a CAMERA. Not only must it offer skins, but they must not be shown in advertising and / or they must provide a way for the user to make their own skin in order to hide that it is a camera.

El, you missed the point.

The AVANGARD spy camera is actually a pile of skins disguised as a camera.

These skins have natural predators and the only way they can survive is by disguising themselves as a camera.

It's called reverse psychology in the skin business.

AW

Thanks for looking on the lighthearted side of photography. With so many people taking themselves so seriously, we need a little levity. I love articles like this.

And I love writing them Willy... let's do this again next year at this time... OK?

AW

I have a Lytro Illum camera. You can create short videos from a single still that ranges through the entire ocusing spectrum for that picture.

For instance, I took a picture of the hood ornament of a vintage car that had vintage newspapers on the windshield. By using the Lytro software, I could process the picutre inot a short video where first the hood ornament was in focus, then the newspaper was in focus and finally, the whole scene was in focus.

Thank you Gary - Since I do in fact photograph old cars I will definately keep this handy nugget of knowledge in mind.

And you can take 3D photos which are viewable via two different 3D modes. The glasses can be had for ten cents each which means you can afford to print 3D images and send them out with the glasses.

And why you are blocking me from posting a comment? Waw very impressing!

Very bad article. Why the Leica M-D is there? What's that spy smile hidden camera is doing on your top list? Come on BH, this is not your usual way to write about articles..

Sorry I/we let you down M.

The topic of this article is subjective, which means my thoughts and yours (not to mention other readers) may not concur?

So which cameras would you have chosen?

I'd be curious to know which cameras you would have included.

And thanks for the feedback.

- AW

I like BOTH the Leica and the spy camera. Very glad they were included. But that is only my opinion and I don't berate you for having a different one, unless it is someone you have just voted into the presidency - then I complain loudly!

If you are letting politics onto this site please remove me from your e-mail

This forum is about cameras - not politics.

We have enough politics everywhere we look.

This site is pure escapism...

Have a swell day!

AW

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