1935: The Ebner
The Ebner was one of the many cameras whose shape and design would not have been possible without the invention of Bakelite, which allowed certain consumer goods like cameras to be moulded into new shapes and in different colours. This one was the second model. The first was an upright folding camera that shot eight 6x9cm pictures on 120 film. The second model shifted to a horizontal design and doubled the image potential to shoot 16 exposures, each one 6x4.5cm.
Its specification is fairly conventional: a Trioplan 7.5cm f/6.3 lens in a Vario shutter speeded 1/25-1/100sec, extending on self-erecting struts and bellows when a bed is folded down from the front of the body. It was also originally available with a range of better lens and shutter combinations at higher prices.
What sets the camera apart from its rivals is the smooth lines of the attractive brown Bakelite body with its rounded ends and stippled finish, the way the metal viewfinder folds neatly away into the top of the body and its slim proportions when folded. In its shooting position, the camera measures 13x12x10cm. But fold down the viewfinder and press a catch on the front to fold the lens back into the body and those dimensions become 13x10x3cm.
So you get big, medium format pictures, from a small, foldable and easily pocketable camera.
Left above and below: The Ebner unfolded and folded.