speed camera

Above: A UK speed camera and a vintage Rodenstock camera. Credit: Amazon/Getty.

Camera Symbol

The camera icon/symbol used in UK roadsigns--to warn of speed-cameras in the area--is fascinating. The icon makes reference to a largely antiquated camera technology: a camera with bellows. The camera in the symbol clearly has a set of adjustable bellows. These are found on many plate cameras and vintage hand-held cameras, but they are not part of the speed-camera setup. The explanation might be that the bellows are intended as a distinguisher from the more familiar basic or classic CCTV symbol.

When it comes to CCTV cameras generally, there are thousands of differently designed symbols in use, the majority of them have one component in common beyond the camera housing and lens: it is a rendition of an adjustable wall bracket that is so often deemed essential to the icon. And this is quite right, a CCTV camera is just a video-camera mounted on to a wall with a bracket.

In the modern security conscious city there are two basic camera symbols that have become ubiquitous: the CCTV recording warning, and secondly, a snapshot camera icon (front-on depicted as a rectangle, with a circle for the lens, and often a smaller rectangle suggesting a flash) which has been struck through: No Photography.

(23 October 2019)