Cameras at War

...Photo Gear that Captured 100yrs of Conflict, from Pen & Sword

Title: Cameras at War
Author: John Wade
Publisher: Pen & Sword
ISBN: 978-1-52676-010-4

Something we take for granted in history books for many years now are archive photos, many of us are always on the lookout for new images we have not seen before. Now we have a book that, dare I say, focuses on the subject of the cameras that have been used to record those images. Both still and moving images.
A 258-page soft-cover book, it starts with a nice clear explanation of the very earliest types of camera and the processes they used to create an image. When you read about the early copper plates, then wet glass plate processes before we got to dry glass plates then little wonder there were no 'action' photos and the time it took to go through the process of taking the picture and then developing them is fascinating to read. Large, wooden box cameras were hardly 'handy' to use. Then we got to roll film and the work of George Eastman and Kodak and smaller, easily portable pocket cameras. There is also the rise in use of the now well established 35mm film and the SLR (Single Lens Reflex) type camera. Then we get to WW1, with not only cameras used by individual servicemen, but those for aerial photography, the early movie cameras and perhaps the most striking, the Hythe Mk III Machine Gun Camera, designed to look and operate like the famous Lewis gun, and used to train air-gunners. Then there was further development between the wars and before we get to WW2 and even greater use of both still and movie cameras, including their use as 'gun-cameras', to record results when fighters fired their guns. After the war there was a greater spread of German camera technology, shared among the victors. Then it moves on to not just the Korean War but also the Cold War, which includes the development of such a variety of 'spy' cameras and some miniature ones more suitable for a James Bond film.
As a keen military historian and photographer I found this fascinating on so many counts. It doesn't bring the story right up to the present day but I think it is helpful to look back over the 100 years of camera development between the Crimean and Korean Wars.
Thanks to Pen & Sword for this review copy.

Robin