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.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Collection D'Appareils Photo

Collection D'Appareils Photo

While we couldn't read everthing - it's mostly in French - the images on this site speak for themselves. Its an ext… [read review or visit site]

Magic Mirror of Life

Magic Mirror of Life

Jack and Beverly Wilgus have put together a great trove of information and images of camera obscura-related photos … [read review or visit site]

Cameras and Co

Cameras and Co

An impressive collection of antique and vintage cameras, this site features high-resolution images of over 120 came… [read review or visit site]

George Eastman House

George Eastman House

This showcase of vintage cameras and photography is plainly designed, but the camera collection and related referen… [read review or visit site]

Antique Cameras D. Tristram Ludwig

Antique Cameras D. Tristram Ludwig

David Tristram Ludwig shares high resolution images of his in-depth personal collection of antique cameras, includi… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Stunning Ica / Zeiss Ikon 10x15cm 'tropica' Tropical Plate Camera Outfit C.1926Marion & Co. French English 19thc Antique Mahogany & Brass Plate Camera & LensesVintage Improved Seneca 8x10 View Camera Brass Wood Slides Antique 1904 NrFotal Camera Sub Miniature Art Deco German Sub Mini Ffa Rau Wetzlar Lietz LeicaA Very Good French Polyorama Panoptique Viewer - Not Stereoscope StereoviewerA Marion & Co Stereo Soho Reflex Camera - Kershaw Australian RetailerRare ~ Vintage ~ C1920 ~ "ihagee Tropen-photoklapp Neugold" Tropical CameraVintage ~ C1890 ~ "perken, Son & Rayment" "optimus" Full Plate CameraLeica Leitz Minolta Cl M-mount Wetzlar Camera Cle + Genuine Leather CaseRare ~ Vintage ~ C1910 ~ "the Midland Camera Co. Ltd" 1/2 Plate CameraVintage~ C1910 ~ "houghton" - "triple Victo" - 1/2 Plate CameraVintage ~ C1930 ~ "no. 2 Brownie" Card Camera Box - "eastman Kodak Co.'s"Rare Original ~ Vintage ~ C1930 ~ "selo Film" - Double Sided Cut Out Enamel SignLeica M2 + 5cm Summicron As-is Need Servicing1950's Vintage 35mm Asahi Tower 24 Camera &case, Kogaku Takumar Lens F=58mm,1:24Rare Original ~ Vintage ~ C1950 ~ "ilford Sc Roll Film" - Neon SignVintage ~ C1910 ~ "houghton"(?) "boots Special" 1/2 Plate CameraRolleiflex 3.5f , Metered ,with 75mm F3.5 Planar In SynchroAntique French Brass&wooden Folding Camera Rolling Shutter & Brown BellowsVoigtlander Prominent 35mm Camera With Nokton 1:1.5/50 Lens, Read...Voigtlander Alpin Folding Camera 1914Graflex Super Speed Graphic 4x5 Press Camera ~ Loaded Bundle!!"works" Rare Swiss Jaeger Lecoultre Compass 35mm Lens Roll Film CameraVintage Busch Pressman 4x5 Field Camera W/ Kodak Ektar F:4.5 101mm LensVintage Zeiss Ikon Contax 2 Camera Scarce F1.2 Sonnar Lens NrRollei Tlr: Rolleiflex W Planar 75mm F/3.5, Heidosmat F/2.8 Rare Small ~ Vintage ~ C1910 ~ Oak And Brass Camera Tripod ~ With Original HeadCoronet Midget In Brown, With Case, Beautiful ConditionRare Original ~ Vintage ~ C1920 ~ "ensign Roll Films" Double Sided Enamel SignAntique Beau Brownie Doublet Lens Eastman Kodak Co. Art Deco Camera Photography*rare* 1891 "a" Ordinary Kodak String-set Box Camera!!Vintage Minolta Md Rokkor F1:1.2 Lens Nice No Reserve1887 J. Lancaster Antique Wood Plate Camera W/lancaster Lens * Mahogany & BrassCamera Sub Miniature Art Deco Japan Mioj Sub Mini Snappy Konishiroku1947 Sakura Petal Miniature Camera * World's Smallest * Made In Occupied JapanRolleiflex 2.8e Tlr Ex+ Twin Lens Vintage Camera Film Camera Rollei TlrVintage Sanderson Plate Camera Goerz Dopp Anastigmat Daror Houghtons Rare 1902Vintage 1940's Kodak Bantam Special Art-deco Camera Masterpiece!!Vintage Zenza Bronica S2 W/ Zenzanon 1:2.8 F=100mm LensKodak Aero Ektar F2.5, 7 Inch / 178mm Covers 5x7 - Ideal For Wet Plate Collodion1905 Shew Postcard Camera * Aluminum Bound * Antique Wood Strut CameraLeica Camera With Summar LensOriginal 1894 Premo Wood & Brass Camera In *rare* Full Plate Size!!Wollensak Verito F/4 Deffused Focus 7 1/4 Inch Lens With Both CapsVintage Mamiya C33 Tlr Camera And Much MoreC. 1865 Antique Wet Plate Tailboard Camera * Nice Wood & Original Glass BackStruss 9 Inch F/5.5 Pictorial Lens With Lens Board And Both CapsWollensak Optical Co. Vitax Portrate Lens *huge F/3.8Vintage Kowa Of Japan Kallo 140 Model Camera With Prominar 50mm 1:1.4 LensVtg Deco Kodak Beau Brownie Box Camera No.2 Blue/green Eastman Doublet LensMinolta Srt101 Camera With Mc Rokkor-pg 58mm F1.2 Lens, ManualVery Rare Brass (petzval?) Rack & Pinion Lens By Mclean, Melhuish & Co. LondonRangefinder Nikon Nikkor S 5cm F1.4 Lens Nippon Kogaku No.340285 Clear Optics Extremely Rare Mason G. Glasgow Stereo Half Plate Tailboard Mahogany Brass 1870Camera Sub Miniature Art Deco Japan Mioj Sub Mini Mycro Iiia Case And LensKodak No.3-a Folding Pocket CameraZeiss Ikon Contax Iia Rangefinder Camera W/ C. Zeiss Jena 50mm Sonnar F1.5 LensVintage Steky Subminiature 16mm Film CameraZeiss Biotar 1,4/50mm T For Leica Screw 39Voigtlander Bessa I 105/f4.5 Vaskar Prontor Shutter Tested & Working Optics Ok!

Recent News: Cameras

Source: Google News

Your portrait could become part of Grantham history
Grantham Journal, November 24th

Shoppers in Grantham will have a unique opportunity on Wednesday, December 3, when students from Grantham College will be taking portraits using antique cameras as part of the My Grantham project. Anyone wishing to have a free vintage portrait of ...Read more

Carriage Barn seeks photography entrants
New Canaan Advertiser, November 21st

Alongside contemporary photos, the exhibition will include a display of vintage cameras as well as early photographs, such a daguerrotypes and tintypes. Cash prizes include Juror's Selections and student categories. The juror is Robert Gurbo, curator...Read more

6 iPhone Apps for Budding Filmmakers
Yahoo Tech, November 21st

When film director Malik Bendjelloul ran out of money while shooting Searching for Sugar Man, he turned to the $1.99 8mm Vintage Camera app. Created by Nexvio, the app realistically mimics retro-looking 8 mm film, which he used to shoot scenes of his ...Read more

Alice Austen House in Shore Acres Showcases Vintage Cameras
NY1, November 10th

NY1 VIDEO: Vintage cameras were on display recently at the home of one of Staten Island's most famous photographers. On Saturday, The Alice Austen House hosted its 3rd annual Vintage Camera Day. Islanders got to see some of the first cameras ever ...Read more

Old cameras take center stage at Alice Austen House's Vintage Camera Day
Staten Island Advance - SILive.com, November 9th

Old cameras and lenses from the colection of Geoffrey Berliner who is co-developer and executive director of the Penumbra Foundation are on display during Vintage Camera Day at the Alice Austen House Saturday, November 8, 2014.(Staten Island ...Read more

French Online Archive Features Images Of Over 10000 Vintage Cameras
Popular Photography Magazine, October 28th

If you're into old camera gear we have the internet worm hole for you. Collection Appareils is a French online archive that contains pictures of over 10,000 vintage cameras from around the globe. Maintained by Sylvain Halgand, the massive site contains...Read more

Collection Appareils: A Comprehensive Online Archive of 10000+ Beautiful and ...
PetaPixel, October 27th

Fans of vintage cameras, listen up, because we're run across a wonderful resource that could very easily consume hours upon hours of your time. Sounds good, right? The resource is a French online archive called Collection Appareils, and it contains...Read more

How To: Start a Vintage Polaroid Camera Collection
Popular Photography Magazine, May 12th

These SX-70 factory lab camers are from the Waltham Factory in Massachusetts and were used by engineers to test film and accessories. Each has a unique nomenclature. Photo: Erik Karstan Smith. Enlarge ...Read more