United States 1895 – Box Camera – Custom film – Rare.
The Kombi camera was produced at the end of the 1800s by Alfred C. Kemper from Chicago.
It was meant to be mass produced and an advertisement of the times mentions that more than 50 000 were produced in a single year.
The Kombi was a revolutionary camera, especially if you compare it to the size of the cameras used back then. It was built in sheet metal and silvered brass and proposed an extremely compact body.
It was the first subminiature camera ever built.
Far from being a novelty camera, the Kombi was a precision, all-metal device and has a solid feel in the hand. Its controls work smoothly and fit is impeccable. It also provided very innovative features, like being the first camera with interchangeable magazines making it very practical. Several options were proposed to develop the film and the easiest route was to mail the entire camera to the company, enclose payment and eight cents for return postage, and await its return.
Another curiosity was that the Kombi was advertised as possibly being used as a picture viewer by placing the exposed shots where the film would be and looking through the lens.
The Kombi is an historical camera as it tried to simplify photography for the masses when cameras were large and expensive devices. It was definitely not an easy camera to use but marked a real step in that direction.