Compact camera

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A compact camera is a small and comparatively light camera considering its design . Compact cameras are usually viewfinder cameras for the 35mm , APS or miniature format . The most popular digital cameras are also compact cameras.

Leica AF-C1 (1988), analog 35 mm compact camera
Voigtlander Vitomatic I (1957)

The term is sometimes used as an opposite term to system cameras , i.e. for all cameras with a fixed lens , the heaviest of which can weigh up to one and a half kilograms.


Compared to single-lens reflex cameras or bridge cameras (which represent something in between the compact and single-lens reflex cameras), compact cameras usually have a smaller range of functions, often deliver poorer image quality due to simple components, but are also considerably cheaper. Typical features for cameras in this class are also fully automatic, various motif programs and splash protection.

Canon Digital Ixus V, early model with 2.1 MP sensor

An example of non-compact digital camera is presented in May 2000 Digital IXUS of Canon . It had an optical double zoom lens and a CCD image sensor with a resolution of around two megapixels .

A special form of the compact camera is often paraphrased as "noble compact"; These are particularly high-quality models with extensive workmanship and high-quality components. Popular representatives of this class for the 35mm format are for example the Olympus µ (mju:) - II and the T5 from Yashica, which is no longer available . This model, which is sometimes referred to as the “sharpness miracle”, has a particularly high-quality optics from Carl Zeiss , the T * Tessar , with a light intensity of 1: 3.5. Other well-known examples of 35 mm compact cameras that have earned a good reputation are the Rollei 35 , Minox 35 , Ricoh GR1, Leica Minilux and CM, Olympus XA, Nikon 35Ti and Contax TVS and T2 / T3. All of the above models impress with their very high-quality, bright branded lenses, which are mostly fixed focal lengths to enable particularly high image quality.

To a certain extent, the opposite of these top models are the single-use cameras that have been available since the early 1990s and do not actually allow for a film change. The cameras are equipped with a fixed focus lens and must be disposed of as a whole after the film has been removed in the laboratory.

In addition, there is a very simple 35 mm compact camera in the photographic field of Lomography , with the help of which this recording style was co-founded, namely the Lomo LC-A.


Leica I, the first 35 mm 35mm camera

The Leica I from Leitz and its successors can be regarded as the first really compact camera, which came onto the market in 1925 as the first series-produced 35mm camera . It had a retractable 50mm lens , which meant that the camera, which was hardly larger than a glasses case, could easily be carried in a jacket pocket and was therefore always ready for a snapshot . Oskar Barnack is considered to be its inventor .

Zeiss Ikon folding camera

Since the end of the First World War, there have also been increasing numbers of so-called folding cameras (also known as “Falter” among photographers) with a fold-out lens attached to a bellows , which mostly exposed on roll film in the format 6 × 9 to 4 × 4. When folded, they usually fit in a pocket, which is why they can still be counted as compact cameras compared to the much larger and heavier professional cameras that were common at the time.

Rollei 35 and Minox 35

The first 35mm compact camera according to today's definition was probably the legendary Rollei 35 , which came onto the market in 1966. It was developed by Heinz Waaske over many years and manufactured by Franke & Heidecke , which were internationally known for their Rolleiflex medium format cameras, as their first 35mm camera. Barely bigger than a cigarette packet, but still equipped with all the attributes of a "serious" camera such as complete control over time and aperture, CdS exposure metering and a high-quality lens, it quickly became a best seller. Other companies from Germany and Japan soon followed with similarly compact models, especially since 1974 the Minox company with its Minox 35, which is still the smallest 35mm camera to this day, which is even smaller than many digital compact cameras in size.

Kodak Pocket Instamatic
Kodak single use camera

At the same time, especially in the USA, there began a trend towards cameras that were not only compact but also operable for users who had never photographed before and did not want to deal with the basics of photography. Over time, this led to several simple, mostly fully automatic compact camera systems that worked with film cassettes in different formats. The Instamatic system first appeared at Kodak in 1963 , then followed in the same year by the German competitor Agfa with Agfa Rapid , from 1972 again from Kodak the pocket film and the necessary pocket cameras, and finally in 1982 Kodak Disc . Despite their ease of use, these cassette systems never even came close to reaching the distribution of 35mm film, which by then had already started its triumphant advance and was also the means of choice for most potential compact camera buyers. Thus all cassette systems disappeared from the market after a while.

The first compact cameras with autofocus appeared in the late 1970s , which is remarkable when you consider that the autofocus technology of professional SLR systems was not ready for series production until a decade later. This was due to the much more complicated structure of the SLR cameras, whereas the new technology for automatic focusing was quite easy to implement with the compacts, as it does not have to be so precise and extensive in order to be able to focus reliably. On the other hand, the autofocus of compact cameras is usually much slower than that of single-lens reflex cameras, which often leads to a noticeable shutter release delay .

In the lower price ranges, analog compact cameras were often equipped with so-called fixed focus lenses , as are mainly found today in single-use cameras , cell phones and web cameras.

Digital compact cameras have been available since the beginning of the 90s and, after a few years of pioneering time, have now become very popular around the turn of the millennium. Their manufacturers often offer many models with only minor differences at the same time, the market for digital compact cameras is also characterized by rapid model changes and tough price wars, often at the expense of technical development. Recently, however, there have also been some high-quality digital compact cameras whose lenses were developed with the help of renowned companies such as Zeiss , Schneider or Leitz and which are also in the upper price segment.

Individual evidence

  1. DPReview: Nikon Coolpix P1000 in the Nikon Compact Cameras category , accessed on October 3, 2018.