Suzuki Optical Camera Lite (model 1)

In the movie ROMAN HOLIDAY, which premiered in 1953, Audrey Hepburn played a princess who escapes her palatial confines to taste the street-life of Rome.  A reporter, Gregory Peck, discovers her identity and enlists a photographer, Eddie Albert, to take some clandestine photographs of the princess.  He accomplishs this feat with his trusty Echo 8 cigarette lighter/camera.  Suzuki Optical, the manufacturer of the Echo 8, was caught completely off guard.  With the free publicity that the movie offered, and their own lack of supply, Suzuki could not keep up with demand for the original model.  To fill the gap, they opted to quickly come out with a new, simplified, less-expensive version of the Echo 8, called the Camera Lite in 1955.  It still had a cigarette lighter, but this new version had a less-expensive, fixed-focus 17mm (f8.0) lens. This is equivalent to an 85mm lens in the full-frame 35mm format -- a short telephoto.  Like the original, this model produced a 6x6mm format image.  The "simplified" parts are that this model only had one shutter speed -- 1/50, a fixed aperture, and a simpler, non-optical viewfinder.  It used the same, tiny 8mm cassettes as the original camera and produced a 6x6mm image.  This model requires a little more care in use. With the 1/50 shutter speed and a slightly longer lens, it's quite easy to end up with blurred pictures.  And it's easy to miss the subject completly with the simple viewfinder setup.  To top it off, it's harder to get accurate exposures with the fixed shutter speed and f-stop.  But who cares?  You've got the smallest camera on the block!  And if all else fails, you can still light your cigar.  You can tell if you have a Camera Lite (model 1) as it is marked "Camera Lite" on the bottom and does not have levers for the shutter speed or aperture.  It was available in chrome as well as an olive-green/khaki enamel finish.  Some models are marked "Made by Continental Merchandise Co. NY." on the bottom, but is the same camera in all other respects. Sales of the Camera Lite were so good that Suzuki opted to come out with an improved version of the original Echo 8 in the following year -- known as the Echo 8 (model II).

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