AMONGST the very large number who have acquired a hand camera, either as a means towards securing records or perpetuating memories of summer holidays, it would be interesting to know what proportion have studied beforehand the literature pertaining to the subject of hand camera work. Probably very few, and it therefore seems superfluous to give advice on the type of camera to buy, as it is more than likely that the reader will be already the happy possessor of one 01 the various makes on the market at the present time.
Instead then of advising " what to buy " we shall endeavour in the next few pages to give advice on matters learnt by actual experience and practice, and such, we hope, as may be of practical use to the beginner.
It is only comparatively recently that the hand camera has come so prominently to the fore both as an adjunct to a summer holiday, or as an important accessory to the picture-maker's outfit.
This is partly owing to the great increase that has been made in the sensitiveness of the dry plate, the introduction of the daylight loading rollable film, and the production of small but highly efficient folding and box form cameras.
Each of these two distinct types has its good points, and having employed at various times one or the other, it is difficult to say which is preferred. The most obvious advantages of the " Box Form" or magazine camera are, that it is always ready for use, usually in focus, and the plate or films in situ ready for exposure. For the purposes for which this class of camera is intended and is in fact mostly used—street scenes, groups, etc, etc.—these are important advantages; and, moreover, the simplicity of its mechanism gives the beginner little chance of going wrong.
The folding, or, as they are often called, " pocket" cameras have also very distinct advantages; the method and ease of loading in daylight with rollable film makes an instrument of this type almost a sine qua non for long tours when cumbrous impedimenta are inadmissible. To the more advanced worker, too, the focussing scale, which will admit of a general view or a " near to " one of a single figure or group will naturally appeal. Its extension will often permit of the use of either the double or single combination of the lens, which to the worker with some experience is a very necessary feature. These, then, are just a few of the various points that have gained for one or the other of these two types of hand cameras such a widespread popularity. Were it possible to combine the advantages of both in one, something approaching an ideal hand camera would result. The other hand cameras most in use at the present time are but variations of these two, which may almost be looked upon as primary types. The differences in the several parts of the camera are, however, numerous. The lens may be fixed or focussing; the shutter may operate directly in front of, between or behind the lens, or as in the case of the focal plane directly in front of the sensitive film; the methods employed in loading are many, and may be for plates or films in sheaths or in dark slides, films in packs or reliable film, and so on.
Perhaps, however, a more distinctive feature in the cameras of the more expensive kind is what is known as the "full-size finder." It is a contrivance with which one is enabled, by means of a reflector, not only to see the object on the screen, but to focus right up to the moment of exposure. For figure work, where the correct composition is the desideratum, and for rapidly moving objects this form of camera has no equal ; unfortunately, however, in the former class of work it is, by reason of its rather conspicuous appearance, apt to attract more attention from the " victims" than is quite desirable.
With these few brief remarks let us now pass to what will be of perhaps more interest and use to the reader.