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1935: PDQ

The PDQ was a street camera, used by photographers to shoot people on the streets, and then sell them a print, made on the spot within minutes of exposure.


Some say it’s so-called because the PDQ acronym is usually associated with the phrase ‘Pretty Damn Quick’. That would seem appropriate, but it’s more likely it refers to a slogan used for advertising the camera: ‘Photography Done Quickly’.


The PDQ shot pictures on rolls of direct-positive print paper. Turning a handle on the side released the paper and placed it behind the lens. After exposure, the photographer pulled a knob which activated a cutter that sliced through the exposed paper, dropping it into a one-shot developing solution contained in the tank below, before washing it and presenting it to the subject.

Left: The unusual PDQ street camera, made to make pictures while you wait.


Above: Inside the camera, showing the mechanism that moves and cuts the paper-type film.

pdq inside.jpg
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