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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Help! Repair needed for Department 56 house
Florida Today, July 3rd

er friends at Southern Photo in Melbourne referred you to Jim Sargent, an expert in collectable and vintage cameras and clearly a man who knows his stuff when it comes to World War II equipment. He actually owns a camera used aboard U.S. aircraft to ...Read more

Queen Anne fire sparked by electrical fault; $3 million loss
KOMO News, July 3rd

One woman packed out her viola and vintage camera. A man carried out a prized elephant carving. Nick DaValle lost almost everything, including his cat "Dapper," who was nowhere to be found during the fire and chaos. Then, Friday morning, incredibly...Read more

Small, earnest film melds tragedy with wit
The Register-Guard, July 3rd

His bedroom is adorned with a bookshelf of vintage cameras and a “(400) Blows” poster. He wears a “Nosferatu” T-shirt regularly. He makes films with his friend Earl (RJ Cyler). These aren't just any films, though. They're whimsical, punny takes on a...Read more

Lackawanna County detective and dog learn together
Scranton Times-Tribune, July 2nd

Detective Butkiewicz set up narcotics in five locations in a vacant part of the DA's office Thursday — 2 grams of methamphetamine in a tissue box, 238 bags of heroin in a phone book, 7 grams of crack hidden in a vintage camera, 30 grams of cocaine in...Read more

Review: Zoe Leonard's 'Analogue' Shows the Human Toll of Globalization
New York Times, July 2nd

Numerous photographs depict vintage camera and photography stores. One set of four represents outdoor carts selling Kodak supplies. So her title has multiple meanings: She used analog machinery to create images that are analogues of reality, and, in...Read more

Eastman House camera collection receives landmark designation
Innovation Trail, June 15th

The George Eastman House's Technology Collection has been recognized as an Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, or ASME. The collection houses some 16-thousand photographic and ...Read more

Ottawa couple turns retro appliances, vintage cameras into quirky lamps
Ottawa Citizen, June 12th

Tim Cutts and Margaret Sommerville know how to light up a room — using everything from tarnished kettles and hand mixers to old musical instruments, rotary phones and Singer sewing machines. Owners of Rekindled Lighting, the Ottawa couple make funky ...Read more

Connections: The History Collected By the Eastman House Camera Collection
WXXI News, June 11th

Eastman House's technical marvel known as its camera collection (Technology Collection) is being honored next Monday, June 15 by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). The vast collection includes a daguerreotype camera signed by ...Read more