Cambo model 40
images by Chi Bellami (Image rights)
image by Uwe Kulick (Image rights)
image by Vagn Sloth-Madsen (Image rights)
The Cambo model 40 is a professional passport portrait instant camera. A heavy solid metal camera, preferably to use on a tripod, but also usable as hand camera by means of its big strong grip. The camera can make four images on each film sheet. Therefore it is four similar cameras in one, the inside separated in four separate dark cambers which define four passport photo sized image frames. The image format is 2×2 images in a 73×85mm rectangle (each image ca. 36×42mm). The Cambo model 20 is a similar camera with only two similar lenses, for just two shots on each film sheet.
Model 40: Some main parts of the camera were made by Polaroid. The back of the camera is an original Polaroid film holder for Polacolor 125i instant film pack cartridges. The lensboard is another original Polaroid part, the big round Polaroid Miniportrait passport camera shutter unit. In the center it has a selector to choose the lens for the next exposure. A fifth setting allows to expose through all four lenses at once. The selector is marked with the Cambo logo. On both sides is a lever, each positioned between an upper and a lower lens. The right lever allows the choice between the apertures f16, f11, f8, f22 and f32 (in this succession because of very special aperture blades). The left lever allows the choice between the shutter speeds 1/50 sec., 1/100 sec., and bulb mode. The lens barrel around that shutter unit bears the shutter cocking lever, the release cable connection thread, and the flash connector. The lenses for the four separate camera chambers are four equal Schneider-Kreuznach Radionar 1:8/125, each one focused on the same distance which is the optimal passport photo portrait distance. But the camera has also some Cambo parts: The massive metal chamber containing the four camera chambers, the very fine reverse Galilean telescopic bright frame viewfinder, the strong tripod thread unit bearing the camera's serial number, the strong grip and the special shutter release cable. The cable's release button end is poked into the grip so that the shutter can be released with the thumb of the camera-holding hand.
The model 40 made its debut at the 1966 Photokina in Cologne (D) were Cambo presented its invention as the MS (short for Multishot). The first production run of about 250 Multishot cameras were mostly sold in The Netherlands. Because of this success the Polaroid company got interested and made a deal with Cambo for the rights to sell it worldwide under its own name as the Polaroid Miniportrait. The deal with Polaroid did last untill 1976 when a legal conflict in the USA spelled the end. Cambo went further with the production however, selling it under its own name again, also the camera's name changed to PP-4 which is a short for Passportrait-4.
The model 20 was presented by Cambo at the 1968 Photokina in Cologne (D) as the Multishot-2 (short MS-2). Between 1971 and 1976 it was sold as the Polaroid Miniportrait-2. After 1976 it became the Cambo Passportrait-2.
image by Chi Bellami (Image rights)
- Article "Professionele Nederlandse Foto Apparatuur, Historie van Cambo" part 2, by Leo Hilkhuijzen in magazine PHT 3/1989 published by Fotografica