Leader, Standard or Deluxe?
January 1, 2006 -- Michael Tisdale
The terms Leader, Standard and Deluxe were used to describe certain H-16 and H-8 model cameras in the United States during the late 1940s and '50s. The words were simply a marketing term used to group the same model camera - all with built-in frame counters - into three different price ranges; the only difference being the type of viewfinder, or viewfinders, included with the purchase of the camera.
In terms of collecting or identifying these cameras today, the words have little or no meaning. In some cases, it's irrelevant. Before I explain why, let's identify how the three terms were used by Paillard Products Inc. in 1950.
Sold with a Tri-focal viewfinder and eyecup. ($244.75)
Sold with a Tri-focal viewfinder and eye-level focuser. ($282.50)
Sold with an Octameter viewfinder and eye-level focuser. ($318.00)
Because an Octameter could be added to a camera later, or because an eye-level focus could be lost or removed, the terms are rather useless in identifying a specific model today.
Still, cameras occasionally show up on eBay with these terms. Sometimes the name is used incorrectly. Other times, the seller is simply quoting the description from a sales receipt found in the camera's case; indeed, these terms were used on cameras purchased from dealers in the United States and written on receipts and stamped on registration cards.
The latter example is why I've chosen to list these cameras as individual models in the Camera section of this website. The term "Standard" seems to have been dropped before 1952. However, the Leader and Deluxe were both marketed until 1957.
Bolex cameras were sold around the world, however, and other countries seem to have never used these terms. Because of this, "Leader", "Standard" or "Deluxe" isn't exactly a relevant or accurate term for identifying cameras currently in circulation. That doesn't mean it can't, or shouldn't be used. It is at least useful to know what is meant when looking at an advertisement or brochure from that era.