Time Traveller: K-20 Cameras, 1940s

Time Traveller: K-20 Cameras, 1940s

These hand-held, aerial cameras were used during WWII

OT Staff
January 12 , 2017
01 Min Read

These two K-20 cameras are part of a set of 13 proudly stationed at the Camera Museo in Gurgaon. A hand-held, metal-bodied, aerial camera, the K-20 has a morbid past. It was used during World War II to take before-and-after pictures of bombings, says Aditya Arya, whose private collection of vintage camera equipment started the museum, now supported by the India Photo Archive Foundation.

A K-20 is how we have the infamous picture of the mushroom cloud over Hiroshima, taken on August 6, 1945 from the bomber Enola Gay’s tail gunner position. Designed by Fairchild Camera and Instrument, just 15,000 of these cameras are reported to have been made by Folmer Graflex Corp from 1941 to 1945. The K-20 used a 6-inch, non-interchangeable f/4.5 lens, which took 5”x 4” exposures on a 5.25”x20 to 5.25”x200 foot roll film.

The private collection houses nearly 2,000 such vintage wonders—from palm-sized spy cameras (Ticka, 1907) to a mammoth 600kg process camera and everything in between. Displayed inside a nondescript basement of a house in Gurgaon, the equipment has been restored and preserved under controlled temperature and humidity conditions. If you want a walk through the glorious past of analog cameras, darkroom techniques, and peculiar equipment (think stereoscopes, enlargers, flash bulbs, etc.), you must book an appointment with the collector before you go (+91-9810009099).

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