We've introduced you some of the oddest vintage cameras before, but what if you're in the market for something smaller, perhaps something that could be hidden in a pocket or a cigarette box? Here are some of the great spy cams ever sneak a photograph.
Up top is the Bakelite Coronet Midget box camera with a Taylor-Hobson f10 lens and a 1/30s fixed-speed shutter, introduced in 1935, and produced until 1943.
The ultra-cheap, lightweight and matchbox-sized Midget took six exposures on 16mm rollfilm, and was available in several colours. It was distributed as a prize in cereal boxes.
The Kombi, made by Alfred C. Kemper in Chicago, Illinois, from 1892
The first non-Kodak roll film camera for which Kodak produced its own type of film, this machine has the cutest user's manual ever.
Ticka Watch Camera, produced between 1906 and 1914
The most popular tiny watch-type camera was made by Houghton in England between 1906 and 1914, designed by Magnus Neill and sold in 10,000 units. It used 17.5 mm roll film and could take 25 16x22 mm images.
Ensign Midget, designed by the Swedish Magnus Neill, produced by the British Houghton-Butcher from 1934 to 1941
The original models had a three-speed shutter and a fixed focus lens with two apertures or an Ensar-Anastigmat lens with five stops.
The Lumiere Eljy with a Lypar 40mm f3.5 lens, 1937-1947
These tiny cameras (8x5 cm or 3.15x1.97 in) used a special 24x36 film and could take eight photographs on a roll.
This camera was manufactured by the Swiss Le Coultre et Cie for Compass Cameras Ltd., London, between March 1937 and 1941. The solid aluminum camera used special 8-exposure films, but later a 828 roll film back was available. The Compass had two optical viewfinders, three filters, an extinction meter, a spirit level, and a 35/f3.5 Kern anastigmat lens.
Minox A, produced in Riga, Latvia between 1937 and 1943
The highly popular Whittaker Micro 16, made by Wm. R. Whittaker Ltd. in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California between 1946 and 1950
The Micro 16 used 16 mm film and had a 90-degree (reflecting type) viewfinder. It was sold for $30 in the late 1940s (about $300 in 2013 dollars). Detectives loved this model; some tried it to hide in an empty cigarette box.
Steineck ABC Wristwatch Camera with a 12.5 mm f2.5 lens and a 1/125 s fixed-speed shutter, produced by Steineck Kamerawerke in Germany, between 1948 and 1951.
Patented by Dr. Rudolph Steineck.
The first successful Japanese 16 mm camera, the Steky III, produced from 1950
The small camera had interchangeable lenses: a three-element 25 mm f3.5 lens was attached originally, but the user could change it to a 40mm f5.6 or a 40mm f3.2, too. A 17mm wide-angle converter, some color filters, a USB filter, a pocket tripod, and a flash gun was available, too.
Echo 8 Lighter Camera with an Echor Anastigmat 15mm f3.5 lens by Suzuki Optical Company, Japan, 1951-1956
This lighter camera takes 20 photos on an 8 inch load of 8mm film. The aperture can be set to f3.5, f5.6 and f8.
The Austrian Goerz Minicord from the 1951-1958
This has the best subminiature lens ever made: a six-element 25mm f2.0 Goerz Helgor that could focus down to 12 inches (30 cm). The camera used double-perforated film in special cassettes.
Petie Vanity from the 1950s
A Petie I or II camera was housed inside a lady's powder case. It was available in some shiny colors, with golden engravings, snake skin leather, or marble-like textures.
Petietux with Kratz Optik 25mm f2.8 from 1957
(via Joops Camera Collection)
Tessina, patented by Dr. Rudolph Steineck, manufactured by Siegrist between 1957 and 1996
This twin lens reflex camera with two 25mm f2.8 Tessinon lenses could take 14x21 mm pictures on a standard 35mm film loaded into a special cassette.
MEC 16 SB, a 16 mm camera, designed by A. Armbruster, launched in 1957 by Feinwerke Technik Gmbh in Germany.
The 16 SB had a Rodenstock-Heligon 1:2/22mm lens, and it was the first camera with a built-in exposure meter (TTL).
The Button Camera, developed by the Central Intelligence Agency in the 1950s
Similar ones were developed by the KGB as well as British Intelligence, but all of them took 16 mm subminiature film and employed a hidden pocket lever.
This is the Stasi (East German)version:
Japanese miniature cameras: Mycro, Midget, Myracle
Kiev Vega 2 with Industar-M 3.5/23mm lens, 1961-1964
Minox DSC subminiature digital camera, announced in 2008
The DSC (Digital Spy Cam) with a 5.1 megapixel sensor could capture documents in the close focus range of up to 50 cm. An external flash module with a 1.5-inch screen can be docked onto the side.