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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Written by Patriot Staff
Barnstable Patriot, May 21st

Art on the Walls: Through May 29: Amy C. Davis of Harwich uses vintage cameras and film in her landscape and street photography, and her work is on display on meeting room walls in Barnstable Town Hall on South Street in Hyannis, as part of the ongoing ...Read more

Seen & Heard: Gourmet Garage Update
Tribeca Citizen, May 21st

••• Congratulations to Baron Von Fancy for his foxy Canal Street billboard. (And I just got emailed about an amusing product/artwork of his.) ••• A Gourmet Garage update from P.: “The door on Broadway was open this morning. Floors have been sanded, ...Read more

Vintage Lens On A Modern Camera
Hackaday, May 18th

Instead, he decided to fix the excellent vintage lens to a DSLR body. He'd read about a few other similar hacks, but they all involved a lot of complicated adapters which was beyond his skills. Removing the lens from the vintage camera was straightforward...Read more

Recognize these people? Vintage camera from Bangor area reveals ...
Bangor Daily News, May 9th

Gary Flanagan, who lives in New Brunswick but frequently visits Bangor, purchased an antique Brownie Hawkeye camera and developed the film. Now he's trying to identify the people in the photos. Gary Flanagan, who lives in New Brunswick but frequently ...Read more

All ages go old school at London Vintage Camera Show
London Community News, April 26th

It has long been felt that the advent of digital photography and its subsequent explosion into almost every facet of our lives would be the death knell for film photography. If the turnout at the Carling Heights Community Centre on April 26 was any...Read more

Interstate 81 attractions: See parade floats, vintage cameras and Woodrow Wilson
Washington Post, April 23rd

If you're heading from D.C. to the mountains along the Shenandoah Valley, chances are you'll be on or near Interstate 81, home of some classic roadside attractions. (Lots of caverns, in particular.) We stopped at one on our way to Staunton, Va., a...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