Italy 1952 – Compact – 127 film – Rare.
Some designs are just Italian. Period. And sometimes design makes everything.
Bencini, established in Milan in the late 1930’s was one of the flag bearers of the Italian camera market in the middle of last century. Most of the Bencini cameras were variations of a traditional horizontal body, bulky, with square bulges in each direction.
The Comet family was no exception with the Comet I and II that were quite basic 127 film cameras in heavy cast aluminium almost bare from any finishing. The name Comet had been chosen to benefit from the enthusiasm surrounding the first commercial jet, the De Havilland Comet launched at the time.
And then in 1952 came the Comet III.
Surprisingly, for about a year, Bencini tried a completely different design (for an otherwise pretty basic camera). The Comet III is an elegant, vertical, futuristic-looking device with an over-sized winding knob and beautiful art-deco character. The design is immediately recognizable and is often presented as a great example of Italian design from the 50s. During that Period 3 variations of the camera were produced, mainly changing the lens and the front cover. After that Bencini went back to more classic (and boring) design.
The Comet III is by no standards an exceptional camera to use, it is heavy and impractical, but it is an incredibly striking collectible.