Look what I got:

I was given this camera last weekend by my friend J___ whose father was moving house and reckoned it would make more sense to pass on this old beauty to someone who wouldn’t just keep it in a box on the shelf. Good thought! And thanks!

Miss History here immediately took to the internet to find out more about this piece of gear. “Robot” did not mean anything to me, despite the camera being a German make (as seen on the logo on the back of the camera). The Robot Junior was made between 1954 and 1960 by German camera manufacturer Otto Berning & Co.   The Robots were initially launched in 1935. At the time the Robot was an advanced camera with two major new features: Inventor Heinz Kilfitt had constructed a rotating metal shutter which allowed for quick shooting. Secondly the Robot featured a combined exposure lock and shutter cocking, tightened by a spring mechanism. This effectively was the first modern film advance system. 

The cameras were fitted with top glass from Zeiss and Schneider. This, coupled with the spring-cocked film advancement allowed for taking pictures in quick succession – and is possibly the reason why the Robot became the camera of choice of the German Luftwaffe. In fact, special versions of the Robot were produced for the Luftwaffe.

Essentially this is a 35mm film camera which produces a square 24x24mm image. 35mm is good news for the modern-day photographer. However, the historic camera does not have any provision for rewinding the film back into the canister. Instead it comes with a special take-up cassette that the film is advanced into.

Unfortunately, that is just what is missing from my Robot. So I have not been able to experiment with it just yet. But the internet research has brought up a contact who is dealing with Robot repairs. If I am lucky they have a spare take-up cassette and sell it to me. Otherwise my Robot Junior will simply look good… Nonetheless I am very excited about this gift. Whether I will be able to shoot with it or not – it is a beautiful reminder of the history of photography and the power of film. Long live analog!

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