Ever since the first SLR came out from Ihagee of Dresden, Germany in 1936, a number of innovations and inventions have worked their way into what we see today as a modern D-SLR.
Let us try and trace from amongst hundreds of models, five SLRs that influenced the course of camera history.
The Kine Exakta was the first camera in the world to be both an SLR and to use the 35mm format. It was a camera that was way ahead of its time. The Kine Exakta exercised a big influence on the development of the 35mm SLR and therefore richly deserves its reputation as the most important SLR in camera history.
A number of SLRs followed the lead of the Kine Exakta but none created such an impression as the Nikon F in 1959. The F became an iconic camera because of its excellent rugged construction which quickly established Nikon as a high quality premium brand. The F was also the first camera to introduce a completely integrated accessory system, including the outstanding Nikkor lenses.
Most of our young readers would never have heard of TOPCON which stood for the Tokyo Optical Company. The TOPCON RE Super launched in 1963 was the first SLR in the world to introduce through the lens metering. This metering system was developed by TOPCON in collaboration with Toshiba and later improved and refined by Pentax with its Spotmatic TTL metering system. TOPCON cameras ceased to exist in the late 70s.
No designer in camera history acquired as much fame as Olympus’ Yoshihisha Maitani. Maitani was not only responsible for the half-frame PEN camera but was also the brain behind the launch of the
Olympus OM series. The OM-1 released in 1972 started the trend towards full featured compact SLRs. It is a little ironic that the industry is going back to the same trend more than 30 years later.
In the 80s, several manufacturers made unsuccessful attempts at manufacturing autofocus SLRs. The first successful autofocus SLR came from Minolta. However, the Minolta had the autofocus mechanism in the body of the camera and the system was not as quiet as the one that Canon introduced. In 1982, with the EOS 650, the EOS family of cameras quickly took a commanding lead in autofocus technology which took its competitors several years to bridge.
We can see very clearly from above that each of these five cameras introduced technology that we
use even today. Surely, they are both classic as well as path breaking cameras!
H. S. Billimoria