A folding camera is a camera that can be folded to a compact and rugged package when not in use. The camera objective is sometimes attached to a pantograph-like mechanism, in which the lid usually is a component. The objective extends to give correct focus when unfolded. A cloth or leather bellows keeps the light out. When folded, the camera has an excellent physical size to film size ratio. This feature was very appealing when the only film formats available were large or medium format films.
Folding cameras were dominant from the beginning of the 20th century to WWII, and medium format folders were produced in USSR until the 1960s. The typical amateur camera of the 1930s was a folding 6 x 9 camera using either the 120 or 620 film size.
The use of folding cameras began to decline after WWII with the development of the 35mm film format, which allowed the construction of small-sized cameras without use of a bellows. However, some 35 mm cameras were also of the folding type, such as the original Kodak Retina.
Polaroid Corporation produced a number of instant film folding cameras, including the famous SX-70, which was also a single lens reflex camera.
The Seagull Camera model 203 was, throughout the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s an inexpensive folding camera often used as an introductory medium format camera.
In 2008, Voigtländer announced the Bessa III in its Classic Collection of retro-style camera bodies, a new 6x6 / 6x7 (120/220 film) medium format folding camera.
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