Time Magazine Camera

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The Time Magazine Camera was a series of 35mm toy cameras given out free with subscriptions of Time Magazine in mid 1985.[1]

Several variations exists which may indicate came from several producers [2]. Only 1 features a model number (FC-101), the rest can be classified by lens markings.

The cameras all come in black plastic with 50mm fixed focus lens, fixed shutterspeed and manual aperture adjustment. The bodies have the appearance of a SLR with a faux pentaprism housing and a thickening on one side suggestive of a non-existent motorwind grip. Some variants have a faux front rangefinder window. They are all manual advance and have a simple viewfinder above the lens either centrally or to one side.

While the Time Magazine branding is the best known, the cameras were also distributed as promotional items for companies like Sports Illustrated, Caesars and Barclaycard as well as under other branding like the Franka NX-40.

Many of the cameras featured a standard hot shoe on the top of the camera, and several other features not usually found on toy cameras, such as a coupled frame counter and a choice of apertures. Whilst most feature a plastic lens, one variant, features a glass single element lens (lavec optical glass lens). This is described as being of better quality and the pictures being relatively sharp.[3]

The pictured Time camera's "Kinetic Optical Color Lens" may indicate a connection to other products branded Kinetic; but given the profusion of different brands used this is hard to determine. This model featured a metal weight to give the impression of a heavier camera.

Modification of these cameras is possible to add cable release, multiple exposure and other features [4]


Technical data Lavec Glass lens version:

  • Fixed focus 50mm single-element glass lens
  • One shutter speed of about 1/100th sec.
  • Variable aperture in both F-stops & pictograms (marked as "cloudy" to "sunny")
  • Simple Viewfinder

Technical data Kinetic Optical Color lens version:

  • Fixed Focus 50mm plastic lens
  • fixed shutter speed
  • Variable Aperture with 4 settings from f/6 to f/16 , marked both in f-stops and weather pictograms
  • Curved film plane
  • Simple Viewfinder

Technical data:

  • Fixed focus 50mm single-element glass lens ("Kinetic" Optical Color Lens)
  • One shutter speed of about 1/100th sec, no B
  • Variable aperture from about f/5.6 to about f/16 (marked as "cloudy" to "sunny"
  • Viewfinder


  1. 1985 Time magazine TV commercial featuring the camera on youtube
  2. Mckeown's Price Guide To Antique & Collectable Cameras 2001- 2002 11th Edition Pg. 633
  3. Time Magazine Camera: Poor Man's Holga 135? review of Lavec Optical Glass lens variant at lomography.com
  4. Upgrade Your Time Promotional Camera on instructables.com