The Fotobox


In preparation...


The fotobox is a simple box camera made of pressed sheet metal.   It uses 120 roll film, which is still readily available today.   The bright and reasonably large viewfinder sits on the top in line with the lens, so at least the horizontal parallax problem is eliminated.   Despite of it being a box camera, the Fotobox is quite capable, featuring three shutter speeds (1/25th, 1/50th and 1/100th of a second) plus B and apertures from f/7.7 through f/11 to f/16.   It has a flashlight synchron connector, but no accessory shoe.   However, a flash can be attached with an extension arm using the tripod socked at the bottom of the camera.

To open the camera you first turn the aluminium lever on the side of the camera about 90 degrees counter-clockwise.   Note, that there are two markings: NY (Nyit = Open) and Z (Zár = Close).   You are not done yet! - you have to pull out the film advance knob a few millimetres before you can separate the two halves of the camera.   Many people, who handle these cameras at markets etc. omit this second step and try to force the camera open.   The result is a severely bent or broken reel holder plate.

The next picture shows the leather case one could buy for the camera.   Note the price tag; you paid 40 Forints for the case, and the bolt to fasten it to the bottom of the camera set you back by 4 Forints and 5 Fillérs.   In comparison, today (in 2003) you pay 90 Forints for one scoop of ice-cream.   There are no Fillérs any more.


The Fotobox occasionally turns up in second hand camera shops or at auctions in Hungary.   It is possible to find very nice examples of this camera, together with leather case, box, and manual.   And it does not cost a fortune.  A nice collection could also include advertising material released at the time.   Together they talk of an era in the Hungarian photo industry which is lost forever.

Further reading:

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