14 Of The Most Bizarre Cameras You’ve Never Seen



Dr Rudolph Krügener’s book camera

Dr Rudolph Krügener’s book camera was patented in Germany in 1888 and made by Haake and Albers. It was sold under a variety of names across many countries. Few examples survive and one recently sold for USD 4,500.



John C. Hagelein’s ‘Watch Camera’

John C. Hagelein’s ‘Watch Camera’ is an American copy of the earlier British Lancaster watch camera. It was marketed from August 1895 where it was priced at USD 5. One recently sold for almost USD 18,000.



‘Turtle Camera’

The ‘Turtle Camera’ consists of a large-format lens where the head would normally poke out, a film holder cut into the shell in the middle and a cable-release shutter.



GF81 ring camera

No more than ten of the GF81 ring camera made by Gian Paulo Ferro were ever produced. One recently sold for USD 3,500.


‘Pinhegg’ camera

The shell of the ‘Pin Egg’ is not just the camera but also the film. The image appears on the inside of the shell which is treated with chemicals.



Doryu pistol camera

Doryu pistol cameras were developed for police and surveillance tasks. Dory 1, the first model, took 9.5mm film and came out in 1952. As film stock was hard to come by, its successor was built and released in July 1954. The Doryu 2-16 took 16mm film.

Unfortunately, the Japanese police force had already chosen to use the Mamiya pistol camera (below), released two months earlier so Doryu 2-16 was released to the civilian market. It is estimated that 600 were produced.



Mamiya pistol camera

The Mamiya pistol camera—officially the ‘Fast Action Camera’—was considered less elegant than the Doryu. Around 250 units are believed to have been delivered to Osaka for police training purposes, before being later destroyed.



‘ABC Wrist Watch’

Dr Rudolph Steineck’s ‘Steineck ABC Wrist Watch’ camera was released around 1948. It allowed spies to take photographs while pretending to check the time. Its film disc could produce eight exposures and the camera was was listed until 1951.



‘Vest’ camera

Robert D. Gray’s ‘Vest’ camera was patented on 27 July 1886 as a camera ‘to be concealed on the person’, worn against the chest with the lens poking through a button hole. In 1886, C. P. Stirn purchased the rights to the camera and made it a commercial success, seeing over 18,000 units under various names.



‘Third Eye’ camera

Wayne Martin Belger’s ‘Third Eye’ camera is made from a 150-year-old human skull ‘decorated’ with aluminium, titanium and gemstones. It exposes 4×5-inch negatives inside the skull through a hole in the forehead.



‘Ticka’ camera

The ‘Ticka’ camera was patented in 1904 and released in 1906. In 1908, the ‘Watch Face Ticka’ with a real enamelled watch dial was introduced. The angle of the hands indicated the lens’s angle of view.



‘Black Eye’ camera

The ‘Black Eye’ camera uses a typical 3.5-inch floppy disk, coupled with a plastic container to act as a camera. The sliding metal mechanism now acts as the shutter. When it is pulled down, light enters, exposing the back side of the film.



‘Lucky Strike’ camera

The ‘Lucky Strike’ spy camera, produced by Mast Development Corp, USA, was contained within a paper Lucky Strike cigarette packet, with a metal body light meter disguised as an Ohio Safety matchbox. It was developed for the US Signal Corps around 1949-1950.

The camera itself was made to a very high standard with a five-element f/2.7 17.5mm Sonar-type lens. The focal plane shutter mounted in front of the lens provided shutter speeds from B,5,=50,00. It could give eighteen exposures on 16mm film.

This camera is one of only two known to have been made, the other is on display in the Signal Corps Museum, Fort Monmouth, USA.




The ‘Trashcam’ project has used large rubbish bins, essentially, as large, portable pinhole cameras. Check out the very cool images that have been made with it on Flickr.