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    

Large Early Ross 3a Portrait Petzval Lens16" F4 11x14 8x10 Swirly Bokeh BrassPolaroid 195 Land CameraFabulous Antique Mahogany & Brass Camera By Midland Camera Company Ltd, No LensBusch's Vademecum Brass Lens Compendium Statz No.iiPolaroid 195 Land Camera With Tomioka Tominon 114mm F/3.8 LensVintage Rolleiflex Zeiss Planar Tlr 3.5f Model 1 K4e 75mm F3.5 Medium Format 120Wet Plate P. Meagher Stereo Whole Plate Tailboard Camera Mahogany Brass C.1870 Rare Wallace Heaton 3x4 Inch Folding Plate Camera, Strut Type. Zeiss Super Ikonta, F/2.8 Tessar, Case, All Wkg, Good ConditionRolleiflex 2.8f Zeiss Planar Lens, Clean Unit, Few Scuffs, Very Nice Condition!Early Folmer & Schwing Auto-graflex With Brass Bausch & Lomb Zeiss Tessar LensFine Antique Vintage Mahogany Plate Camera 1900 The Coronet Good ConditionVintage Zeiss Ikon Super Ikonta 530/15 Folding Camera Tessar1:4,5 Super CleanExtremely Rare Stereo Thornton Pickard Ruby Half Plate Folding Mahogany BrassCamera Shutter By Packard - For Large Brass Lens Large Format Contax Ii With Sonnar 50mm Black Repaint Oh'd Ex+Nice Zeiss Super Ikonta Iv F3.5 75mm T Tessar Rangefinder Meter Leather Case !!!Rolleicord Ii Type 4 Tlr Camera With Triotar 75mm F/3.5 Lens & Case - De P22Vintage J Lancaster & Sons 19th Century Mahogany & Brass Folding Camera Etc.A Good Tripple Rack Telescopic Magic Lantern Lens 11in - Brass MahoganyFrench (unnamed) 6.5 Inch (estimated) Petzval Type Brass Lens With R & P FocusVintage Art Deco Kodak Beau Brownie Camera BlueVoigtlander Vitessa With Ultron Lens Vintage German CameraRolleiflex Zeiss Planar 80mm F2.8 Tlr Near Mint!Vintage Deco Kodak Beau Brownie Box Camera Blue/greenKodak Portra 160nc Propack 160 Nc Lot -20 Rolls Of Expired 120 Film Exp 08/2009Superb Rare Sanderson Tropical Hand & Stand Camera 1/4 Plate /w 3 HoldersMinolta Xk + Ae-s + 50mm F1.4 Mc Perken Son & Rayment 19th Century Portrait & View Camera Lens Daguerreotype EraGrey Cased Rolleiflex Baby 4x4 Rebuilt Shutter Clean LensePolaroid Sx-70 Alpha 1 Instant Land Camera With CaseGraflex R.b Super D 3x4 Film Camera W/ No.32 Kodax Anastigmat F4.5 6 3/8 In LensM42 Pentacon (meyer) Bokeh Monster 135/2.8 15 Blade IrisRoss Zeiss Anastigmat 442mm F7.2 Protar Aluminium & Brass Lens (no.563 With IrisRoss: Antique Rapid Symmetrical Brass Lens For 8 X 5 Inch Large Format Cameras.Vintage Burke & James B&j Press 4 X 5 Camera & Kodak Ektar 127mm F4.7 LensNo Name Kiev Contax With Sonnar 50mm Genuine Oh'd Ex+Leitz Wetzlar Leica Cl Camera C1:2/40 Summicron Antique 6" Adjustable Brass Iris Lens Mount Diaphragm Large Format ? SteampunkFix/parts Century Graphic Graflex 2,1/4x3,1/4 Camera Xenotar 2.8/80mm Red BellowNewman & Guardia New Ideal Sibyl CameraCanon P Rangefinder Vintage Camera & Light Meter Ltm M39 + Accessories1958-1961Eastman View Camera No. 2-d Folmer Graflex Kodak 8x10No-brand Petzval Lens For 4 X 5" Film Or Wet Plate CollodionZeiss Ikon Contax Ii + 5cm F2 Sonnar Vintage Butcher Cameo Quarter Plate Folding Camera Red Bellows 1910 Houghton IcaLeica Leitz Ii Camera (lykan/lykup) 1932 #88007 & Nickel Elmar 50mm Lens As IsVoigtlander Prominent Antique Unusual 120 Roll Film, Germany, F:4.5/105mm Lens.Rare Antique Wood & Brass 5"x7" Bellows Field Camera 19th Century PhotographyVoigtlander Prominent Camera W/filters & BoxLeica Iiig + 50mm Summicron + Case!Zeiss Contax I (f) The Final Model 1935 With Sonnar 85mm F;2 LensVintage 1954 Canon Ep Ivsb Rangefinder Camera 50mm F1.5 Lens Leica Clone Zeiss Ikon Super Ikonta Bx 533/16 Rangefinder 6x6 Zeiss 80/2.8 Leather Case !!!Camera Shutter By Cadett - For Large Brass Lens MahoganyFolmer Graflex 8x10 To 5x7 Reversible Film Back Adapter For 4a, 8a & 10a CamerasVintage Kodak No. 3-a Model B-4 Folding Pocket Camera W/ Red Bellows Antique 207Asahiflex Asahi-flex W Takumar 50mm F3.5 Working ExLeica D.r.p.35mm Camera Ernst Leitz Wetzlar Very Clean Contion With Canon Ep Iv Sb Vintage Film Camera W/ 50 Mm F/1.8 Lens

Recent News: Cameras

Source: Google News

Buy a One-of-a-Kind Transparent Rolleiflex Prototype Camera for $6000 Over on ...
PetaPixel, October 18th

Camera collectors, unfold your wallets… it's time for another installment of “cool rare things currently on eBay.” Except in this case 'rare' can be replaced with 'unique,' as in these cameras are supposedly one-of-a-kind. What you see above is a...Read more

A snapshot in time: Vintage film found in antique camera
Uniontown Herald Standard, October 1st

When a Fayette County native purchased an antique camera from a yard sale, he got a bit more than he bargained for — a roll of exposed film nicely preserved in its metal confines. Now he is hoping to find the family and return their aged photos...Read more

Vintage cameras donated to museum
Williams Lake Tribune, September 30th

He used the cameras up until 1945 when he had to mail the film away to Winnipeg for development. In those days it cost 25 cents to get a roll developed. Teichroew would put a quarter on a roll of film and mail it in. Originally from Altona, Man., where...Read more

Beautiful Short Film Profiles a Classic Camera Collector
Popular Photography Magazine, September 30th

The film itself is extremely short, but it profiles a classic camera collector the film maker met while shopping in an antique store. He has more than 1,000 older cameras in his collection, including a couple amazing field cameras you can briefly see...Read more

Woouf vintage camera cushion at Urban Outfitters
Retro To Go, September 29th

Fans of old school photography (and especially the creations of Lomography) might just want this Woouf vintage camera cushion around the house. Yes, a cushion, as opposed to the numerous beanbags by the company we have featured in the past...Read more

Prof's 220-Kg Vintage Camera Steals the Show
The New Indian Express, September 28th

CHENNAI: Standing tall at the weekend Camera Fair 2014, where new technology in the space of photography and cameras was being explored, was Dr Arun A V, whose passion had shifted from photography to collecting vintage imaging equipment. Dr Arun ...Read more

#PictureBelfast: Can You Tell the Difference between a Filter and a Vintage ...
Fstoppers, September 26th

Let's face it, smartphone cameras are getting better and better with every release. Mobile photo editing software is getting better too, and with the rise in popularity of Instagram over the last four years, sharing vintage-looking photographs have...Read more

Vintage camera shutterbugs will appreciate this light meter app for Google Glass
Gigaom, September 24th

Need a light meter to help figure out the right camera shutter speed based on lighting conditions and film sensitivity? Check this app for Glass which cleverly uses the camera sensor in Google's wearable display to help you out. CameraLens...Read more