what goes around …

What a clever idea – but already done nearly a century ago using glass plates by C P Stirn

Toronto. … comes around. Or so the old saying goes. And to prove a point, the November, 1939 issue of Popular Mechanics carried this article about an unnamed American ‘inventor’ who came up with the idea of a circular film, camera, and enlarger to take a dozen tiny negatives on the circular piece of film. It was claimed the negatives could be enlarged up to 8×10 inches. (My thanks to good friend and fellow photo enthusiast, George Dunbar, for this thought provoking article from the mists of history.)

Interesting idea, but C P Stirn of New York and Berlin actually sold and advertised such a camera in the late 18880s! Two models are known. 6 or 4 circular  negatives could be recorded by the camera on a small round glass plate. The camera described in the 1939 article seems to have never been made. Perhaps it fell victim to the war, since WW2 started a couple of months before.

In 1982, Kodak introduced a line of disc camera that used a tiny film disc and made 15 tiny colour negatives on each disc. Kodak said enlargements up to 8×10 inches were still sharp. The idea was relatively short lived before the whole concept fizzled. Perhaps independent processors didn’t bother with Kodak’s level of careful sharp focus including special higher resolution lenses – even regular size prints were fuzzy. A Canadian Kodak marketing representative, the late Dennis Canon was a PHSC member at the time and gave us a personal and exciting talk in the old Memorial Hall when the Disc camera line was first introduced.

Today we have digital technology and smart phone cameras making the concept of so few ‘shots’ on a tiny disc of film (and waiting for processing) rather quaint to all but the tiny niche of film buffs who join collectors to haunt our events (P.S. our Photographica-fair is the next event – on October 1, 2022).

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