yesRetromania: The Funkiest Cameras of Photography's Golden Age by Lawrence Harvey

A smashing little book. It's more of a nostalgia trip than a serious account of the most notable cameras of the period, but the short and punchy content make it an entertaining read. Buy a copy.

 

yesPortraiture at Home by Reginald H Mason

A fabulous book from the days when the Pentax Spotmatic was king, and the skill of photography resided with the photographer, and not the camera. I've had this since new, and read it many times. It really does tell everything you need to know about portrait photography, despite being a fairly slim book.

 

yesThe British Journal Photographic Almanac 1955 by Arthur J. (Editor)

I bought this book for about £1 - in hardback. It includes loads of tabulated nerdy technical stuff about film processing that doesn't interest me, but there's a very good synopsis of equipment - new in 1955. It's structure is very random, but that doesn't irritate me because it's authentic to the time, pre-dating the existence of desk-top publishing, and consequential to some poor sod having to laboriously type-set the entire content. What I most appreciate is that it's more than a dull collection of facts, and includes an opinion on the offerings of the day. A set of these would be well worth considering, especially as they can be purchased for next to nothing.

 

yesCollecting and Using Classic SLRs by Ivor Matanle

A nice book. It's got a logical structure, good flow, and is reasonably comprehensive. Like all books of it's kind, it's a bit top heavy on the major players - Canon, Nikon, etc. Maybe times and tastes have changed, but it's a little dry, and it would have been better if Ivor had been able to lighten it up with a more radical editorial, or anecdotes: after all, he prefaced the book by saying the contents reflected his personal opinions, and I'm interested in an informed opinion.

 

maybeCollecting and Using Classic Cameras by Ivor Matanle

This is a good book covering cameras from the 1950 to the start of the 1970s, with information presented in a well ordered scheme, but it turns-out Mr Matanle's definition of a Classic Camera is pretty much anything German. Fair enough, but this commits the majority of the content to Contax, Leica, Zeiss, etc. That's sort of OK too, but not quite what I was expecting to lurk within its pages. To be fair, Nikon and Canon get some coverage, but because many models discussed in detail are iconic, and not really within the grasp of pocket-money-collectors like myself, I've been disinclined to read these chapters. It get's more interesting when he discusses the lesser models, and Ivor apparently really rates Voigtlanders and Agfas, whilst highlighting reliability problems with some other makes.

 

maybe35mm Cameras (Crowood Collectors' Series) by Brian Long

I quite like this book, which is prefaced by a very health statement to the effect that collecting cameras is a hobby, and should therefore not be an occupation that consumes vast sums of money. I enjoyed reading it, but my only criticism is it meanders without any apparent logic under-pinning what makes and models are discussed. It's not a great reference work because information is scattered.

 

noThe Hove International Blue Book: Millennium Edition by Douglas St.Denny & John Wade

Aside from the fact it's woefully out of date, this book is a ineffectual reference work because there are just to many manufacturers and models missing, and those that are covered (which to be fair is a large number of not very well known cameras) have scant descriptions. It's interesting but also very disappointing.

 

noJapanese 35mm SLR Cameras - A Comprehensive Data Guide by Bill Hansen & Michael Dierdorff

Definitely not comprehensive: Cosina, Kowa, and Topcon are completely missing (maybe more?). Of the manufactures covered, there are missing models, missing images, and missing data. Each camera is described via a standardised data table, much of which is blank because the data items are only relevant to a few cameras. The is no narrative, and too many errors and omissions. Overall, the book does not inspire confidence that its contents are trustworth. A very poor offering.

 

no500 Cameras by Todd Gustavson

I was so disappointed by this book. The problemis that it considers every possible category of camera that has existed over a period of 170 years, and gives equal space to each. For example, there is the same volume of information on toy cameras as there is on SLRs. The result is ... there are only a handful of pages that hold my interest. I didn't even feel the book worked visually, because one wooden box with a lens on it looks much the same as the next, and there are a lot of pictures of wooden boxes with lenses. I have a few books I don't like very much, but this one had to go: it offered zero reference value. I stuck it on eBay for £1.

 

 

The Internet can be a bit hit and miss when searching for information on less popular camera models, so every once in a while I invest in a book or two. As these were often written at a time closer to the manufacture and marketing, I expect the contents to be accurate, and thoroughly checked. Alas, sometimes neither of these suppositions are true. So ... here's a quick review of some of my books, in order of merit.