mr roboto

my IIIf Leicavit Leica base c1958 –  a drop down lever lets the photographer shoot quickly while keeping the camera to the eye.

Toronto. After the 1807s when the faster ‘off the shelf’ dry plates became available, camera makers looked at ways to speed up the photograph taking process. It became evident that the way to speed things up was to find a way to exchange an exposed negative with an unexposed one.

In the dry plate era, some cameras used a mechanical means to ‘drop’ the exposed plate and pop a fresh plate in the ‘film’ plane without opening the camera or resorting to dark slides and swapped holders.

When mini cameras became common, various way were devised to wind a fresh negative in place using a rapid lever or a clockwork spring mechanism. Some camera makers like Otto Berning & company’s Robot line had the mechanism built in so the cameras could shoot in burst mode.

Others used a ‘winder trigger’ in a custom base plate to let the photographer quickly wind the film on one frame after the shutter button was released. These gizmos were often beautiful in their own right like the famous Leitz ‘Leicavit‘ shown here at left. It was made for the IIIf for a decade beginning in 1953. An even more streamlined version was made for some M series cameras.

For professionals, a motorized base was offered. The film was wound to the next unexposed frame by a clockwork mechanism and later by a tiny electric motor.

Modern day users of digital cameras or smartphones have no need for such mechanical  marvels since once activated the digital technology keeps the ‘shutter button’ in an ever-ready state for the next photo, burst, or video.

Note: The post title is based on an iconic 1983 song by the Styx, “Mr Roboto“.

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