Submarine cameras
by Gérard Loridon

Mr Loridon came into contact with me about one of his old cameras: the Eljy, whose small overall dimensions were particularly interesting at the time of the practice of scouting, in the Fifties. From sewing thread to needle, I discovered a very interesting and very kind Gentleman. He agrees today to make us share his interest for the history of the diving and more particularly for that of underwater photography. And on the matter, Mr Loridon knows what it speaks. Because if today, to nearly 70 springs, Mr Loridon moved away physically (but certainly not emotionally from the sea and of the diving, whole of its professional career was done at the bank (and especially under) of water, that it river water or sea water.

Mr. Loridon is a former skin diver and deep-sea diver. He was the founder of the museum/art gallery of Frederic Dumas (Tour Romane 83110 Sanary s/mer. Free entry the weekend and during school vacations).

Mr. Loridon presents to us the photographs of some cameras used to practice the underwater photography and an article on the ancestor of the underwater camera. These cameras are visible at the museum Frederic Dumas, unless otherwise specified.


The FObeuchat is the first camera designed by my friend Georges Beuchat in 1947, inside, one put the FOCA.
It had chosen like brand TARZAN, because in the post-war period, all that was American was a gift of heaven… that changed well since. Also, it had thereafter problems with the MGM, producer of the films “Tarzan the ape-man” of which kid, we were fond of !


The FOCA+Scaph, still from Georges Beuchat, came after and is clearly improved. It has an Ivanoff port-hole, to correct the 1/3 additional underwater

Foca Standard (1953-1962). Coll. privée


The Stevens, of the name of his designer, a famous underwater photographer,  it is a plastic bag in which was fixed a camera, of any brand/mark, One operated the controls with the glove included.

The Royflex was to go in the Rolleimarin case of Hans HASS

Case for movie camera Kodak M8 (1962). Private coll.

Calypsophot. Coll. privée.

BoutanThe “Detective” was certainly the first or one of the first camera of underwater photographs…

It is in the book “100 years of underwater photography” of Steven WEINBERG, Philippe Louis Joseph MASTIFF, John NEUSCHWANDER published in at Alain SCHROTTER Editions that one can note in the Chapter 2  “The pioneers”, the work of Louis BOUTAN and Joseph DAVID, at the end of the 19th century. If Louis Boutan is a well-known scientist, his collaborator Joseph David is not less one outstanding mechanic, resulting from the National Marine.

This collaboration will be profitable and will give to the underwater people its first clichés of quality

It would be too long to make known here the troubles and successes of this dynamic research team and it is for that to better refer to the book, very complete, described above.

About the “Detective” perfectly described and visible on the site of Mr. Sylvain Halgand, let us note simply that is in 1892 that Louis Boutan used this camera in a waterproof caisson to obtain underwater pictures.
It makes make the blueprints of this box by his brother Auguste, engineer.
The building is carried out by the Alvergniat firm of Paris.

Its use will not be easy nor without misadventures for a caisson including several controls at one time or the thoric joint was still in the limbs.
But as Louis Boutan quotes it, his colleague David will cure all these problems.

Louis Boutan will make clichés of a great quality for the time with, nevertheless exposure times from 10 to 30 minutes, to  a 11 meters depth in Banyuls ( Pyrenees Orientales).
The Aqualung not existing, it used a heavy diving-suit, with helmet. For which knows this kind of equipment, that was not to facilitate the task of this voluntary scientist, but little trained with this discipline.
Thereafter these two pioneers made progress on the matter and invented also an underwater flash.

An exhibition “Blue Art” organized last year by the Museum of the Diving, dedicated to Frederic DUMAS, made us discover the material of Louis Boutan and Joseph David under the form of an excellent copy realized by Steven WEINBERG. This unit is still visible at the Museum.

Mr Weinberg did not can be contacted to ask for the authorization to him of diffuse the photograph above. If it wishes a withdrawal that it tells us of it, we will withdraw this photograph as soon as possible