Dover620A.jpg (66243 bytes)

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Click on the camera for a larger view.

Marcy's Dover 620-A Camera Review: [check out the Speed-O-Matic, at the bottom of the page!]

Manufactured in Dover, New Hampshire, the Dover 620-A is one of the weirdest cameras I've used. I bought it at a camera show for four bucks. The only reason I bought it was because it's so weird. When you carry this camera, you need nothing else. Other than maybe flashbulbs. Stamped on the camera's back is what might as well be its instruction manual. It's an exposure chart, and a confusing one at that. The film advance knob is on the bottom. On the front of the lens are two filters (yellow and portrait) that slide across the lens. See? You don't even need to carry spare filters 'cause they're already attached to the camera. The F stops range from 1 to 5 on a large dial. You turn the dial until the correct number (according to the exposure chart) is displayed in a window below the lens. I only bought this Bakelite camera because I thought it was weird. I had no idea it would skyrocket to the top of my favorite-cameras-of-all-time chart. The images this camera creates with its "normal" lens are fairly nondescript. But the images it makes with the "portrait" filter over the lens are out of this world! Objects that are close, and centered in the frame, are in sharp focus, but the background and sides are thrown into an even, dreamy blur.

With all of the fancy-schmancy stuff this camera has, the shutter only has one setting. Instant. No "B". Also, the Dover isn't one of those cameras that says it's 620, but will actually accept 120. But I don't mind spending the extra two minutes to re-roll 120 onto a 620 reel when using this camera. It's well worth it!

Click on any image for a larger view:

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DoverBeehiveLady.jpg (50460 bytes)

Portrait lens

DoverFarmer.jpg (73330 bytes)

Portrait lens

DoverGroup.jpg (113170 bytes)

Normal lens

DoverDennisCo.jpg (109232 bytes)

Normal lens

A note about the incredible metal sculptures pictured here: They're scattered along the highway in Raymond, WA. USA There are a lot of metal cut-out natural history "sculptures" there also. They're okay. But these sculptures created by artist Hans Curtis Nelson are fabulous! The detail is amazing and fun. One farmer's back pocket even has a worn area where can of SKOAL obviously resides. 

HotDogEater.jpg (109876 bytes)

The Speed-O-Matic:

Knowing that I love the Dover 620 A as I do, imagine my surprise when I came across the Speed-O-Matic while cruising eBay one fateful night. I clicked on the funny sounding name, only to find an incarnation of the Dover 620! Frantically grabbing for my McKeown's, I learned that the Speed-O-Matic was born in 1948. "An instant picture camera with meniscus lens, single speed shutter, extinction meter. Takes 12 photos 2"x3" on direct positive paper in film pack. A modified design of the same body was later used for the Dover 620 camera." Well, whadya know. This camera came with a developing tank and a sort of a film pack holder. The direct positive paper goes into a film pack that is specially made for the camera. Coincidentally, I recently bought a big pile of darkroom stuff from someone who lives around the corner. With it came a big box full of direct positive developing kits, some direct positive paper packs (okay, they expired in 1958, but you can't have everything), and tons of sheet film in a variety of sizes. I wanted to check the camera out without having to read any instruction booklets. They can be so dull. I'm not yet familiar with direct-positive processing, so I didn't want to ruin any of that stuff. I slapped a sheet of Kodak Royal Pan 2"x3" film into the back of the camera. The film also had expired in 1958, so I really wouldn't be out much  if it didn't work. I took a photo of one of my favorite subjects - the peeing alien.  The film had fogged (duh). Once I figure out the paper thing, I'll do a much better review. I just got excited and jumped the gun.

Anyway, the instruction booklet shows about a billion steps you have to go through (actually, nine) to finally see your prints. Then, "Your Speed-O-Matic Camera eliminates the use of negatives by producing pictures directly on Speed-O-Matic film paper which produces an image similar to you viewing an object in the mirror. This is known as reversal process. We suggest that you avoid backgrounds with lettering or numerals." Makes you wonder why Polaroid ever got the leg up on this company?

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Updates... updates ... updates: I'm still enjoying the Dover 620A camera. One of my very favorites. Took it on a trip back east:

George Eastman House

Veteran's Memorial, Missouri


McKeown's PRICE GUIDE TO ANTIQUE & CLASSIC CAMERAS 2001-2002 states, "Dover 620A - c1950. A plastic & chrome camera for 16 exp. 4.5x6cm on 620 film. Body design based on failed "Speed-O-Matic" camera. Somco f9 meniscus lens. 5 rotary disc stops. Single-speed shutter. Built-on flash. $12-20."

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