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    

Vintage Agfa Ansco 8 X 10 Wood Wooden View Camera With Lensboard & Glass BackVintage Dallmeyer No 56179 25 X 21 London Rapid Rectilinear Brass LensMarion & Co. French 19thc Antique Mahogany & Brass Folding Plate CameraVintage Zeiss Stereo Palmos Star Of David Camera W Krauss Tessar LensesVintage Taylor Hobson Cooke Portrait 12 3/4" 325mm Series Ii.b. F/4.5 Brass LensLarge Antique Brass Wet Plate Darlot Sr Paris Camera Lens Ancne Mon JaminVintage Bausch & Lomb Optical Co Portrait F-5 5x8 Eq.foc 12 Inch LensZeiss Super Ikonta 6x9, Coated Tessar, Case, All Wkg,vgc Large Antique Brass Voigtlander Camera Lens John Wien Braunschweig No 19065 Gorgeous & Rare Mahogany & Brass English Stereo Camera, Boxed.Rolleiflex 2.8c With Schneider Xenotar 80mm F/2.8 Germany 1955Kodak View Camera No.-2d Vintage Great Condition 8x10Nice Little Brass Petzval Lens For 1/6 PlateClean Rollei Rolleiflex Sl66 Camera With Planar 2.8 80 Lens/case/grip/filter*rolleiflex* Rollei 2.8 D, #1615475, Tlr Medium Format No ReserveAntique Folding Kodak Camera Beautiful 1880's Victorian Era Antique Wood Plate Camera * Mahogany & Cherry Vintage Conley Red Bellow Folding Camera W 5x7 Rapid Orthographic Lens1889 E&ht Anthony Victorian Era Antique Camera Set W/ Wood Case & Plate HolderGraflex Speed Graphic Pacemaker-4x5-optar F4.7-135mm Lens Flash-film Pack-no ResVintage Dallmeyer No 35245 No 1a London Rectilinear Brass LensVintage Kodak Premo Bausch & Lomb Lens Red Bellow Folding Camera W Film Adapter Lomo 80mm F2 Anamorphic Cinema Camera LensVintage Kodak Medalist Ii Camera W Ektar 100mm F3.5 LensRolleiflex Twin Lens Reflex 2.8 Xenotar 2.8 80mm Lens, Leather CaseVintage Rare Leica M3 Camera With Complete Box And AccessoriesVintage Conley Junior Folding Camera W Wollensak 4x5 Rapid Rectilinear LensVintage Speed Graphic Graflex Inc Sn 839977 Folding Camera W Supermatic LensFantastic Olympus Om-system Zuiko Auto Fisheye 16 Mm 1.6 Cm 1:3.5 Lens S# 105636Zeiss Ikon Super Ikonta Iv 534/16 Rangefinder Camera With Tessar (6x6cm) GermanyKodak Beau Brownie No2, Doublet Lens, For 120 Film,art DecoVintage Eastman Kodak Plate Folding Camera No 3 Series D W Brass LensVintage Bausch & Lomb Rochester Ny 124485 Adjustable Brass LensVoigtlVintage Bolex Paillard H16 Movie Camera With Case & Extra LensesVintage Burke & James Wood Wooden 5 X 7 View Camera With Red BellowsLeica 50mm F2 Summicron 1952 "radioactive" Rangefinder Cameras Iiic M3 M6 M8 M9Polaroid 180 Land Camera Kit With Tomioka F=114mm LensFrench Brass Petzval Lens For ¼ PlateVintage Eastman Kodak No.2 Folding Pocket Brownie Camera Model B W Red BellowsVintage Canon 50mm F/1.2 Screw Mount Rangefinder Lens Leica Ltm L39 M240 Sony A7Lot Of Vintage Nikon Slr 35mm Camera, Lens, And ExtrasVintage Century Co Red Bellow Folding Plate Camera W Unicum Symmetrical 5x7 LensVintage Portrait Camera Wood Frame & Bellows W Monarch Chromatic 5x7 3172 LensVintage Jc Somerville St Louis No 2214 10x12 4 Brass LensVoigtlander Prominent #b37823 W/ Ultron 1:2/50Graflex Military Super Speed Graphic ~ Ke-12 (2) ~ For PartsVintage Reicka 1911 Ica A-g Star David Folding Camera W Goerz Dragor LensEastman View Camera No. 2-d Folmer Graflex Kodak 8x10Vintage Pathe Baby Projector Cine Video Antique Film Reel Camera And Box Voigtlander VoigtlVintage 1963 Nikon F Slr Film Camera Photomic Finder Flag Selenium MeterAntique Pathex Baby Pathe Film Projector & Motion Picture Camera W/ Film ReelsVintage Eastman Kodak Folmer & Schwing No. 0 Graphic Camera Schneider Kreuznach Variogon Fast F2 18-90mm C-mount Zoom Lens. Xenon Type. Leica Iiic Rangefinder Film Camera W Leitz Wetzlar 50mm F2 1950 Very CleanAntique Brass Camera Lens With Leather Case Signed, Perken, Son & Rayment LondonThe Praestantia Magic Lantern Slide Projector Riley Bros.bradford C.1895Vintage Graflex R.b. Series B Box Camera W Kodak Anastigmat F-4.5 6 3/8" LensVintage Cmc Miniature Mini Spy Green Camera W Yellow Leather Case

Recent News: Cameras

Source: Google News

Light Meter App for Glass Aims to Help Photographers
Glass Almanac, September 22nd

Most modern cameras have built-in in metering, but if you're using a more vintage camera, you will need the help of a hand-held light meter. In recent years, there have been many mobile light meter apps so I started using my cellphone. Still, the...Read more

The renaissance of Liverpool
Telegraph.co.uk, September 22nd

There's also a great little shop selling vintage cameras, European art magazines and art books by the likes of Martin Parr and Wolfgang Tillmans. All three museums are free to visit. First-class berth. Two new hotel openings this summer continue the...Read more

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

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