Antique and vintage cameras are valued by collectors for many reasons, from the historical significance of 19th century wood cameras to the fine optics of classic vintage Leicas. Kodak and Polaroid are two other big names in camera collecting, as is Bolex in movie cameras.

The principles of the camera obscura - a simple light projection box - have been understood for thousands of years, but it wasn't until the late 18th century that Thomas Wedgwood discovered he could make simple prints using silver nitrate exposed to the sun. Over the next 100 years, a series of technical advances brought cameras into everyday life.

Nicephore Niepce and Louis Daguerre formed a partnership in 1829, and figured out a new chemical bath for prints, which shortened the exposure process to eight hours. Daguerre continued this research until he perfected the Daguerreotype, a print made on silver that was used up until the mid 1850s. Daguerreotypes and other formats (e.g. cyanotypes, ambrotypes, tintypes) were made with wood cameras, which were essentially camera obscuras with lenses, allowing for clearer image refraction.

It wasn't until George Eastman's 1885 invention of film that cameras got smaller - with his Kodak film loaded in, you would send the whole camera back to the factory to have it developed. Oskar Barnack began experimenting with 35 mm film in 1914 and built some prototypes of what eventually become the Leica I, the first practical 35 mm camera, released in 1925.

More improvements came when Kodak introduced the Retina I, the first camera to use a modern 135 film cartridge. Photography soon became affordable to all, even before the 1947 introduction of Polaroid's instant camera.

Development of movie cameras kept pace, building atop the basic slide projection technology (magic lantern) which had been in use since the 1500s. The first movie cameras were developed around 1888, and Thomas Edison produced the first copyrighted film in 1894. In 1895, the Lumiere brothers of France first showed off their 'Cinematographe,' a handheld combination projector and camera, in the first commercial public film screening.


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Recent News: Cameras

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When the DynaTAC Brick Phone Was Must-Have Technology
TIME, September 21st

cameo appearance near the center of his “Collections” image of antique cameras). Yet he didn't use that classic camera to shoot “Collections” or “Relics”: As of November 2012, I closed the chapter of my career with film….I don't have too much...Read more

Remembering the Grand Spectacle of the 1939 World's Fair
Curbed NY, September 17th

He gave all the negatives, plus a collection of vintage cameras and locomotive memorabilia, to his son—my father, Henry, who is also a railroad enthusiast and amateur photographer with a fully functioning darkroom. My grandfather, who taught my father...Read more

Vintage cameras or smartphone apps?
Amateur Photographer, September 11th

The most trivial of subjects can look pretty good when shot through one of Instagram's filters, but do the results have the same retro sense of time and place as images taken on vintage cameras? To investigate, we took three popular smartphone apps and ...Read more

Estate Sale Roundup: September 4-7: Vintage camera and Victoriana lovers ...
Austin Chronicle, September 4th

some vintage; “Lutz” slide rules, “Mannheim” slide rule, miscellaneous French curves and rulers; sewing kit and supplies; “Sears” portable sewing machine; vintage cameras; camera bags; miscellaneous photography booklets, some vintage; vintage...Read more

Antique cameras evoke nostalgia
Poughkeepsie Journal, August 29th

"One of the most expensive camera sales I've seen was a rare Leica camera (circa 1923) which sold for $2.8 million. The camera was sold through the Westlicht auction house in Vienna, Austria." If you want to start a camera collection, Fitzgerald says...Read more

HK Film Archive's "Remembrance of the Avant-garde: Archival Camera ...
7thSpace Interactive (press release), August 27th

"Remembrance of the Avant-garde: Archival Camera Collection Exhibition", organised by the Hong Kong Film Archive (HKFA) of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and being held from now until November 2, is showcasing more than 60 pieces of ...Read more

Paris is even more beautiful through the viewfinder of a vintage camera
Gizmodo, August 25th

Mathieu Maury and Antoine Pai of Maison Carnot created this video showing the sights and life of modern Paris through a Pentax 67 viewfinder and the footage is breathtaking. I feel like I'm peering into a looking glass time machine, like the stuff is...Read more

A treasure trove of rare and vintage cameras
Jagran Post, August 19th

New Delhi: For Dilish Parekh rare cameras are his 'blood and heart.' The Mumbai-based camera collector owns a treasure trove of rare and vintage cameras, which presently totals upto 4425 and is being continually expanded. He also holds a Guinness ...Read more