Gun camera made by Sands and Hunter, 1885.
© National Media Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
From the 1880s, hand-held exposures became posible for the first time because of the introduction of gelatin-silver bromide emulsion plates. Manufacturers began to make cameras resembling other objects, either to enable unsuspected candid photography, or for novelty value. To take a photograph with this camera, it is held like a rifle and aimed through conventional gun sights, the image being viewed on a ground glas screen. One of the two cylinders behind the barrel holds 18 circular plates 1.5 inches (3.8cm) in diameter. A plate is pased from the cylinder to the barrel where it can be exposed by operating a shutter. The exposed plate is then transferred to the second cylinder by rotating a circular plate.