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    

Dallmeyer Large Format 8"x 10" Brass Lens 1984Graflex 4x5 Super Graphic-rodenstock Graflex Optar-1000 Speed Shutter-good CondVintage 1937 Leica Iiia 35mm Film Camera W/ 4 Lenses 135mm, 9cm, 5cm, 3.5cmRolleiflex 3.5e Type 2 With 75mm F3.5 Schneider Xenotar Very Good ConditionLeica Leitz Minolta Cl M-mount Wetzlar Camera CleHoughton Stereo Victo Mahogany/brass Half Plate Camera, Lenses, 2 Plate HoldersBolex Paillard D8l,kern Yvars 36mm F2.8 + 13mm F1.8 + Pizar 5.5mm F1.9Early Jamin Darlot Petzval Daguerreotype Wet Plate 6.5" F3.8 Swirly Bokeh Lens 1898 Kodak Bulls-eye Special * Early Roll Film Camera * Brass, Glass & WoodLeica Leitz M4-2 M 4 Black Mount Camera Body As IsRare Pentax Lx 35mm Slr Camera / Smc Pentax-a 24mm / Made In Japan - Full Set30s Vintage Carbon Arc 35mm Movie Theater Projector Wurlitzer Jukebox Camera EraVintage Graflex Century Graphic Camera W/ Zeiss Tessar 3.5 100mm LensPolaroid Sx - 70 Land Camera Alpha 1. Gold Plated Limited Edition.Leica M3 Chrome 35mm Film Camera Rigid Summicron 1:2/50mm Lens With Extras!Vintage Rolleiflex 2.8f Twin Lens Reflex Tlr Camera With Original Box, ManualsVtg 1947 Graflex Crown Graphic 2x3 Film Kodak Ektar 4,5 Lens Camera W/9 Holders Npc 195 Polaroid Camera -- Mint!!!-rare1953 Leica Iiif And Leitz Summitar F2 Lens Minolta Xm With Ae-s Finder European Version Of Xk/x-1 Vintage Camera Body Yashica 635 Tlr Camera With Yashikor 80mm F/3.5 Lens & Case - Xx L14Several Antique Camera Lenses, Some Brass, Pancaster, Wollensak Optical, Etc.Antique Zeiss Ikon Compur Tropical Bellows Camera + 3 Plates - Lens No 416709Rare Underwood Instanto Half Plate Stereo Tailboard Camera Mahogany Brass - 1890Vintage RolleiflexMpp Microcord, Case, All Wkg, Tested, Exc CondHuge Brass Portrait Lens Scientific Lens Co New York Late 1800's????Vintage Rolleiflex Dbp 2.8 F 2459066 Dbgm Camera Zeiss Lense Planar, Estate FindMint, Original 1897 Rochester Wood View Camera * Mahogany, Cherry, Brass & GlassAsahi Pentax Super Takumar 28mm F3.5 Prime Lens M42 Screw FittingRolleiflex 2.8 E Tlr Camera 2.8e & Case. Planar 1:2.8 F=80mm Carl ZeissVintage 1957 Leica M3 35mm Rangefinder Film Camera Body Only Serial #914064Asahi Pentax Super Takumar 135mm F3.5 Prime Lens M42 Screw FittingExcellent!! Canon P Black Rangefinder Camera Populaire Repainted L39 Leica1860's Graphoscope Style Folding Pocket / Tabletop Cdv Photograph ViewerVoigtlander Bessa 66 German Folding 6x6 Cm Camera Cla Works Heliar Compur RapidExacta Vx Iia, Leather Case, Tessar Lens And Uv FilterVintage German Rollei Magic Ii Franke & Heidecke CameraRetro Red Polaroid Supercolor Camera Tested/works Vintage Original Box 600 FilmVintage Kodak Retina Ii Rangefinder Folding Camera Schneider Xenon F2 50mm 1930sVgc Vintage Kodak Autographic Petite Folding Camera With CaseZeiss Super Ikonta IiiAntique Stereoview Camera Hawkeye Model 3 Eastman Kodak Co Wood & Leather CaseVintage Rollei 35s 35mm Film Camera W/ Sonnar 2.8/40 Lens And CaseVintage Mamiya C33 Professional Model Twin Lens Reflex Film Camera #h50714 1960sZeiss Super Ikonta 6x9, Case, Spares Or RepairRolleiflex Automat, Poor Condition, Spares Or RenovationVintage Graflex Speed Graphic 4x5 Camera - 135mm Graflex 4.7 Lens - Case - Acc.Vintage Yashica Mat 124 G Camera With 2 80mm Lenses 1:2.8 & 1:3.5 & CaseVintage Minolta Autocord Tlr Medium Format Camera-rokkor 1:3.5 75mm Lens-mvl ShtAgfa Ambi Silette 35mm Rangefinder Camera Color Solinar 50mm F2.8 LensVintage Nikon Fe2 35mm Slr Film Camera W/ 50mm 1.8 And 35-70mm Zoom LensZeiss Contarex Sonnar 250mm F4 Lens Kit MintyLeitz 35mm F2.8 Summaron For Leica M Bayonet W Leitz Front Cap, Bubble Case ExcCanon-p Leica Screw Mount Camera Cla'd ExCa1900 Unis-france Mahogany Stereoscope / Stereoviewer Fantastic ConditionLeica M3 Rangefinder Single Stroke 35 Mm Film Camera W/ AccessoriesRollei Rolleiflex 3,5 F Planar With Case, Cap And Strap #2800026.Nikon 55mm F1.2 Auto Nikkor-s Non Ai Lens W Front Cap And Bubble Case, Vgc Asahi Pentax Spotmatic Sp Super-takumar 1.4/50 Mm & 3.5/135 Lens Camera

Recent News: Cameras

Source: Google News

Not a Dream: This Vintage Camera Cafe Is 100% Real
GeekSugar.com, April 12th

In addition to serving snacks and tea, there's also a display of the owner's vintage camera collection in Dreamy Cafe. Each table has a napkin dispenser that looks like a 35mm film roll, a set of colored pencils, and photo-album menu. We're definitely...Read more

Sip coffee inside a giant vintage camera at family-run Dreamy Camera Cafe
ROCKETNEWS24, April 10th

Your eye might have gone directly to the giant red building in the photo, but behind that odd architecture is a happy family living their dream. Army aviation pilot, Park Sung-Hwan and his wife (who also happens to be a recently retired army aviation...Read more

PHOTOGASM: This Cafe is Shaped Like a Giant Vintage Camera
FOODBEAST, April 8th

Inside, the walls are lined with an assortment of books, panoramic windows, and vintage cameras, and outside, two round windows on the first and second floors serve as the camera's “lenses.” cameracafe2. Anyone lucky enough to live nearby can check the ...Read more

Whoops! Robert Pattinson Breaks $10000 Vintage Camera On The Set Of Life?
Entertainmentwise, April 8th

According to Showbiz Spy, Robert let a vintage camera, worth $10,000, slip from his hands during shooting recently, with the prop smashing into pieces. Rob reportedly yelled “whoops!” as the camera fell to the floor and did his best to clean up the mess...Read more

Robert Pattinson Broke a $10k Vintage Camera
Showbiz Spy, April 6th

scooping up the broken pieces, apologizing profusely,” a source said. “He was given another vintage camera, but this time the director made him wear a neck strap — and as soon as the scene ended, a prop person ran up and snatched back the antique!”...Read more

The amazing South Korean cafe inspired by a vintage Rolleiflex camera
NEWS.com.au (blog), April 1st

The couple were inspired by their love of vintage cameras, and designed the cafe to look like a Rolleiflex camera. After six years of planning, the cafe was finished in 2013. Feast your eyes on these stunning images. The family in front of their house...Read more

Bowdoin art museum acquires antique camera owned by Winslow Homer
Lewiston Sun Journal, March 24th

Bowdoin art museum acquires antique camera owned by Winslow Homer. Encore |. Wednesday, March 26, 2014. Late 19th-century Mawson & Swan camera expands BCMA's extensive Winslow Homer Collection and will be featured in 2015 exhibition on ...Read more

Maine Museum Acquires Antique Camera Once Owned by Winslow Homer
AFAnews, March 17th

Maine Museum Acquires Antique Camera Once Owned by Winslow Homer. Monday, 17 March 2014 15:36. Print · E-mail. Mawson & Swan camera once owned by Winslow Homer. Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Brunswick, ME. The Bowdoin College ...Read more