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Glossary Terms

Tropical in the description of a camera means that it was designed, or its materials chosen, to withstand conditions in tropical countries. Heat, humidity and insects might quickly damage the ordinary models.

Features of a tropical camera might include:

  • teak, instead of mahogany, for wooden parts;
  • brass, instead of iron, for metal-bodied cameras, and for metal fittings;
  • thicker nickel-plating of plated fittings;
  • Russia leather instead of Morocco for the bellows, and omission of leather covering on the camera body. Morocco leather is simply tanned goat, sheep or calf-skin. Russia leather is soaked with oil distilled from birch bark in addition to tanning, so is highly resistant to damp and insects.

From before the invention of photography until at least 1940, many Europeans either travelled or lived and worked in tropical countries because of the European empires, so it was worthwhile for makers to offer tropical versions, especially of their higher-specification models.