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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The World's Ugliest Camera

As film cameras begin to go the way of other useless antiques, it can only become more popular to talk about them as objets d'art. We often talk about beautiful cameras (for me, the twin champs are the Leica M3 and the 5x7 Deardorff), but, as everybody knows, ugly cameras take better pictures. Anybody have any candidates for World's Ugliest Camera? One of the most inspiredly ugly cameras I ever saw was a point-and-shoot called the Konica Cyborg, but unfortunately I can't seem to find a picture of it online. Of course, almost all disposables are about as charmless as can be, certain Russian Leica copies are inherently hideous, and I might mention that the late, lamented Minolta had some pretty bad years in there. The Graflex 3A "Automatic" (above) has to be up there. Anybody got any favorite ugly ducklings?



Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Simmon 120 was ugly in a really cool kinda way:

It later became the Koni-Omega, which lacked some of the funky style of the original. Still you gotta love a camera with (count 'em) three cold shoes on top of the camera.

10:35 AM  
Blogger Rob said...

My vote would have to be with the Zeiss Ikon Contarex Cyclops - the camera which managed to destroy Zeiss.

10:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about the FED 5 Soviet Rangefinder, Mike? That's a pretty ugly beast if you ask me.

11:07 AM  
Blogger Dr Hiding Pup said...

Surely the world's ugliest camera has to be something to do with the mid-1980s? Maybe the Ricoh Mirai of Batman fame? Though, looking at it again, it begins to look quite cool...

12:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My vote goes to the Simmon Brothers Omega 120. A strange beast, although not without a certain technical charme. And capable of good results BTW. But ugly it certainly is. What about a Top Ten of the worlds ugliest cameras when you´re done with the favorite photos? Just for curiosities sake.And I´ve seen enough of these "Most Beautiful Leica" polls.

1:03 PM  
Blogger 3yellowdogs said...

Here's a real beaut. The lovely Imperial Mark XII. I think it gives the Graflex 3A a good run for its money.

1:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My first "real" camera, the Argus C3, aka the "Brick" was pretty ugly.

1:58 PM  
Blogger David Emerick said...

AHHHH... One of my specialties, Mike. I have many of these adorable ugly ducklings. I'll have to shoot a few when I get home tonite and send them to you. This could be a lot of fun. Perhaps a new blog page should be set up for entries?? Anyone else game ???



2:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

C'mon don't tell me, that this little FSU jewel is hideous:

This is Fed 2 and Fed 3.

2:25 PM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

Dear Lord, I'd never seen that Simmon Brothers Omega 120 before. That is TRULY ugly!


2:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The World's Ugliest Camera?? I think that's can be my one, scrached, damadged, but still alive, C-220 ZOOM by Olympus, lol. But seriously, the ugliest camera i think is an cell phone camera... Sorry for bugs in the text, but i still learning english :D.

2:28 PM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

Tanya Clark has a nice camera page, including some true uglies, at


3:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't forget the Kodak 35. If OSHA had existed then Kodak would have had to put guards on the front.
kodak35rf_e.htm for a picture.

Beauty may be only skin deep but ugliness is forever.

3:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's a link to a page about the fabulously ugly Fed 5:

5:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about an ugly camera range you can still buy as new? I fondly remember many bad looking Polaroid instant cameras, such as this one

5:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What will you say about this, dude? :))

Polish "Druh" camera. :)

2:35 AM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

The Druh is ugly, all right, Wojtek, but I'm not sure it really makes it into the class of transcendent, inspired ugliness; it actually shows a bit of restraint. Here's one I think might make it into the realm of the truly hideous, the Bilora Bella:



5:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

:) Nice one. World is full of strange, bad looking cameras. Do you know Lubitel camera, Mike?

6:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My personal choice would be the 1984 limited edition gold Nikon FA. Gold plating and lizard snake, that's what I call unrestrained:

7:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any Alpa...

8:30 AM  
Blogger Jim Scolman said...

Hello, I think the Leica M4/M6 looks great because of the canted rewind knob. It seems to knock off some of the blockyness. Speaking of ugly, blocky camera i have thought the Topcon looks like someone carved it out of a bar of soap to try to shoot their way out of the joint! I think the Alpa is an odd duck too. Thanks, keep up the good work. Jim

5:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A Univex Mercury is a camera that was unorthodox in both design and appearance. It had a disk shutter that required a large casting on the top of the camera to house it. This gets my vote for being particularly ugly.

A picture can be found at:

10:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, I feel so blue...someone listed my old Argus C-3 as ugly...well,yes, its proportions with its little 3.5 lens was a bit odd and the block that was the casting of urea formaldehyde was black and heavy but the camera in spite of incredible poor maintenance worked. I got it when I was 15 and it was covered in blue mould from being left in a Fla. garage for twenty years or so. I took it apart, cleaned it learned how to lubricate it, even took the lens elements apart to get the mould out of even that area. LO! After all of this, the camera worked perfectly and I used it for years until I could afford a modern circa 1959 Petri Rangefinder...Ever hear of that one? Lots of slick cameras have come along but the old C3 is my favourite ugly duckling. I learned photography with it so it has a place in my heart for ugly but lovely.

10:12 AM  
Blogger Albano Garcia said...

I'm amazed nobody mentioned the tremendously ugly Olympus SLRs from the eighties. One example: OM707. The Minolta is a beauty compared to it. Also, it seems Oly got nostalgic and decided to use similarly beauty designs in their recent DSLRs.

11:48 AM  
Blogger Steve Korn said...

Man, that Simmon Omega looks like it should be called the Winchester Mystery Camera. They couldn't stop building onto it.

11:58 AM  

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