Snappa camera with the magazine
extended for exposing a plate or film.
The Marvel Camera of the Age Simplicity and ease of use was
not a virtue of folding plate (self-casing) cameras. Amateur
photographers were burdened with loading and carrying lots of
plate holders, then keeping track of which were exposed.
By the mid-1890s, self-casing magazine cameras with automated
plate changing capabilities were being offered. High quality images
could be produced with nearly point-and-shoot ease through the
use of an automated mechanism that moved fresh plates and films
into position after each successive exposure.
In 1902, the Rochester Optical and Camera Company expanded its Premo line with the introduction of the
Snappa Camera. While there were numerous "magazine" cameras available at the time, the Snappa Camera
was heralded in advertisements as, "the crowning achievement of creative genius in camera construction."
The Snappa, a small camera only offered in the 3¼ x 4¼ inch format, distinguished itself by offering
interchangeable magazines preloaded with either 10 plates or 24 sheets of film. Preparing for a new exposure
was simple; pull out the telescoping part of the magazine to position a fresh plate or film. After taking a
picture, the telescoping back was pushed back in. This process was repeated until all plates or films in the
magazine were exposed.
Changing magazines was also easy and could be done in the daylight, "by simply unlocking the key at the
head of the magazine, withdrawing the latter from the camera, and substituting another magazine loaded with
unexposed plates or films."
Although advertised and marketed to "people who have avoided photography on account of its technicalities
and complexities, to enjoy the rare pleasures of this fascinating art," the public must not have embraced the
innovative little $25 camera. The Snappa lasted barely one year and did not appear in the 1903 catalogue.