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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Crew films History Channel special at Brenau
Gainesville Times, July 30th

An actor holding a vintage camera doffs a bowler cap, fanning his face. Some of these folks aren't from Georgia, and the 90-degree weather this morning is a killer. But it's worth it, said Karl Horstmann. Filming here — specifically in Gainesville...Read more

Beer, Polaroids and Public Art: A Flash Tour of Brussels' Zoom Hotel
HotelChatter, July 30th

Speaking of the lobby - the public areas are a highlight of the Zoom, with photography everywhere, displays of old camera equipment, and even a stand with vintage cameras for sale. The breakfast (€10pp if prepaid, €15 if taken impromptu) is excellent...Read more

Watch GVSU students produce summer film project in Grand Rapids
MLive.com, July 29th

This year's film is called "The Lens," which tells the story of a woman who discovers an antique camera lens with mystical powers of healing. Lewis Stone, a senior who's working as the film's first assistant director, said the project has given him...Read more

All set to be snapped up
Sydney Morning Herald, July 27th

Leonard Joel has previously had some success with vintage cameras including a Leica M4 in maker's case selling for $2440 IBP. This is a good result for Australia, prices are generally higher in Europe and the US. Leica cameras are regarded as the most ...Read more

iPhone Cases: Lumenati Transforms Apple Phones Into Vintage Cameras
Mobile & Apps, July 14th

At the same time, the design is easier to use because it has a handle and a manual camera focus that is very similar to what you can see on vintage cameras. It is also very easy to set up. The user will just have to insert the iPhone into the Lumenati...Read more

Meet Geoffrey Berliner, a Collector Who Owns Over 1000 Vintage Camera Lenses
PetaPixel (blog), May 7th

Geoffrey Berliner is the Executive Director of the Penumbra Foundation, a non-profit photo arts organization in New York City. He has also been an avid collector of historical camera lenses for 15 years. Pop Photo recently paid a visit to the basement...Read more

Guess the Device: More vintage camera beauty
TechnoBuffalo, March 14th

There was a time in my life when all I cared about was photography, but instead of throwing down money on an expensive digital camera, I chose to make film my primary. I loved film—the quality, even the process of developing—which means I had a...Read more

This Gigantic Collection of 600 Vintage Cameras is for Sale on eBay: It's ...
PetaPixel (blog), March 1st

Want to start your own camera museum? There's a new listing on eBay that can put you on the fast track to doing so. It's for a gigantic collection of roughly 600 vintage cameras from between 1880 and 1980. The description claims the lot could be turned...Read more