Must-Have Vintage Cameras Every Collector Should Own

Must-Have Vintage Cameras Every Collector Should Own

For those interested in consumer history, it goes without saying that the camera is one of the most important pieces of gadgetry ever produced. The ability to take photographs on the mass market has been a hobby for many for over 100 years. Both serious photographers and those interested in the history of cameras can divulge their passion by collecting vintage cameras.

There are many, many vintage cameras on the market, some actual original models, others more modern with a vintage look or shooting capability. A must-have vintage camera is generally down to the personal opinions of the potential buyer, as a camera one person would not be without may not suit another. Most importantly, no matter what the make or model, the camera needs to work.

What is a Vintage Camera?

A vintage camera typically refers to any camera model made before 1970, although vintage style modern cameras are also very popular among the photography world. What makes a camera vintage is not only the style of the model itself, but also in the film. In order to take vintage style photographs, the film itself needs to either be old, or the film can be left exposed to UV light for a short time, which attacks the emulsion layers in the prints causing them to look vintage, or a vintage filter needs to be applied post production either on the camera itself or on a computer.

Below is a list of some of the most desired and fun vintage cameras available on the market. Not all of these are particularly expensive or rare, but they all come highly rated by vintage camera specialists for various reasons.

The Argus C3

Also known affectionately as the Brick due to its size, weight, and shape, the Argus C3 was a hugely popular camera model in America in the 1940s until 1966. Even now, there are groups dedicated solely to the C3 and many photographers who still use one.

Photographers more used to modern cameras will feel as if they are learning how to use a camera from the very beginning with a C3. The shutter needs to be cocked in order to release before taking the picture, and the lever can be accidently touched by the user's fingers during shooting, which will wreck the potential photograph. The C3 has no double exposure prevention, separate rangefinder and viewfinder, and the rangefinder itself has a short base.

There are further positionings on the C3 that is unusual to a modern user, so it is recommended that a certain amount of research is done before purchasing and using this type of camera. There are those with experience in using the C3 that are able to some excellent photographs, so it is not a model to be dismissed simply due to its basic structure and age.

The Canon F-1

Canon has been a well respected name in camera production for a long time. The Canon F-1 was originally produced in 1970 until 1981 when it was replaced by the improved version the F-1n, and is a 35mm single lens camera. It had the benefit of being fully compatible with previous Canon lenses such as the FL and to a lesser extent the R-series. The F-1 was Canon's first proper professional-grade SLR system, with a huge variety of accessories and interchangeable parts. The Canon F1 was specifically created to be competitor to the Nikon F2 series of cameras, which are described below.

The Nikon F2

Like the Canon F1, the Nikon F2 was a 35mm single lens SLR camera and was produced during the same time period as the F-1, from 1970 to 1981. Unlike the Canon model it could not share major components with other models in the F-series both before or after. The F2 was a mechanically-controlled (e.g. springs, gears and levers), manual focus camera also with manual exposure control, and had a 1/2000 second maximum shutter speed, faster than the previous F model. Other new features found in the F2 were a swing open back to make it easier to load film, an assortment of detachable finders and meter heads, a 250 exposure film back, large reflex mirror and a shutter release near the front. It was also the last all-mechanical Nikon SLR aimed at a professional level.

The Polaroid SX-70

An extremely popular model in its day, the SX-70 had the unique ability to fold flat, and also that special Polaroid feature of being able to process pictures immediately. This model is commonly used amongst vintage camera enthusiasts today, and locating a working model is relatively easy.

The Kodak Brownie

It is believed that this camera was the first affordable consumer level camera to enter the market, as far back as 1900. It had a reasonable pricetag that made it accessible to people who had never been able to afford a camera before. The original Brownie had no film, so in order to process photographs, the entire camera had to be sent back to Kodak for processing. It was named the Brownie due to the size and shape, as it is a brown-shaped box. This model was basic, and although it had no specific special features, any serious vintage camera enthusiast would have an incomplete collection without one of these. Fortunately, there are still many of them around and it is relatively easy to obtain one.

The Belair X 6-12

A modern camera with an impressive vintage look, the Belair X 6-12 from Lomography is a stunning camera. There are three models, the Globe Trotter (in mottled brown casing), the Jet Setter (light brown casing) and the City Slicker (all black). These cameras have auto-exposure capabilities, come with two interchangable lenses (90mm and 58mm) and bellows for easy folding.

As well as being an impressive camera to look at, the Belair is able to shoot at three aspect ratios - square 6x6, standard 6x9 and panoramic 6-12. It also have zone focusing, can support ISO film from 50 to 1600, has a hot-shoe mount as standard, and the same bulb mode and double exposure shooting modes common to the high-level Lomography cameras.

Buying a Vintage Camera

Before making a purchase, always conduct sufficient research into the desired model. If the camera is to be actually used, it needs to be made sure that the model is still workable in the modern day. Focus on well-built SLR and Rangefinder cameras when purchasing a vintage camera. Major brands such as Canon, Nikon, Minolta, Yashica and Konica are good choices in this area, as well as cameras with a cult following such as Lomography.

Always inspect the camera visually for any signs of damage. Corrosion and mold are both issues common to older cameras, and are not necessarily a problem unless the damage is extensive. An experienced vintage photographer will be able to restore this type of damage. Light scratching is only an issue in terms of the look of the camera, but deeper scratches can indicate a more serious problem.

Be aware that counterfit products do exist on the market, but these models should be fairly obvious to the experienced eye and will have a poor build quality when compared to the real thing.

How to Buy Vintage Cameras on eBay

In order to find vintage cameras on eBay, headfirst to the homepage. From here, go to the links on the left hand side of the page, and select Electronics and then Cameras and Photography from the drop down options. This will then load the Cameras and Photography section of eBay. Using the links on the left hand side again, select All Categories and from the selection available, in the section for Vintage Photography, select Vintage Cameras.. The listings that load on the following page can be narrowed down further according to brand, the bundle available, condition or more. Alternatively, use the search engine on the eBay homepage to search for listings according to specific keywords for the desired product.


Owning vintage cameras can in itself be a hobby, and there are many models available on the market. Always conduct sufficient research before making a purchase, and if the camera is intended to be used, the camera needs to be in a workable condition and able to take film. Some of the models listed here are known to be great products that any vintage camera enthusiast would be proud to own.

� n�p��e ideal for the connection of external effects equipment.

The Different Connections Available




FireWire is a super-fast system which can transfer data to and from several different sources. Some computers will come with in-built FireWire ports.

USB 2.0

The main advantages of a USB music interface are mobility and convenience. Although they aren't the most efficient of connections available, all new computers and laptops have at least one USB port, so interfaces can be swapped between systems very easily. Mobile studios will benefit from USB interfaces, and they are also ideal for DJs who have to continually set up and dismantle their equipment in different venues.

PCI Interfaces

A PCI interface is usually built into a computer, and it communicates directly with the motherboard. The result is a fast and efficient, high-bandwidth connection that minimises latency.

PCI Express

A PCI express interface is the fastest available, and its top speed of around 4,000Mbps makes it the preferred system in professional recording studios.

Other Factors to Consider

Many amateur musicians and DJs will want to expand their system over time, and some interfaces allow that expansion to take place gradually. Some 8-channel interfaces come with ADAT inputs and outputs that can be expanded to 16 with an outboard interface or preamp. Most audio interfaces are sold with their own software packages - known as Digital Audio Workstations. However, not all software supports MIDI, but it is still possible to purchase additional software that provides this facility.

How to Find Audio Interfaces on eBay

The eBay website is the perfect place to shop for audio interfaces as it makes searching and purchasing a simple and quick process. The purchase of sophisticated music recording equipment is a huge investment for most people, so it is important that such a transaction is protected, and that is why eBay's feedback system is so important. Every time someone purchases an item on the site, they get the chance to leave feedback on the service they received and the product they bought. This feedback can be viewed by other potential buyers, and an overall score is displayed. There are also a number of online stores within the site which are hosted by authorised sellers. Buying the latest music interfaces from these stores gives people the peace of mind in knowing that they are dealing with trusted vendors who are experts in their field. Some audio interfaces will be sold as part of a bundle, and that can mean accessories such as mics, headsets, and cables can be picked up as part of the purchasing price.

While many people will choose to use the text-entry box near the top of the homepage to conduct a search, more refined results can be found by using eBay's unique category-based search facility. Any search will begin by clicking the All Categories drop-down menu at the top of the homepage. After the Search icon has been clicked, a list of sub-categories will be presented, and the Musical Instruments Category should be selected. A new page will load which will include a list of further sub-categories on the left of the page. The Pro Audio Equipment link should then be selected, and the Audio/MIDI Interfaces link should be clicked on the subsequent page. At this stage, it will be possible to browse through hundreds of music interfaces and relevant accessories, but selecting the check-box options on the left of the page will narrow the search results further.


The latest laptops and home computers will usually be able to cope with a keyboard or guitar, and it may also be possible to record vocals at the same time. However, expecting any more than that from a standard sound card will be asking for trouble. The main decisions to make when purchasing different music interfaces involve the connection needed and the number of outputs required. The number of sound sources connecting to the interface will dictate how many outputs are necessary. However, choosing the correct connection system will not be so simple. A DJ, for instance, may use a laptop to store and mix music, so a USB connection would provide convenience and mobility. However, a professional recording artist who uses a range of musicians, instruments, and mics will probably need the speed and reliability of a PCIe interface. In many cases, the decision on which type of connection to go for may be taken out of the equation as not all laptops and computers will have FireWire or PCI capabilities. Musicians will have their own preferences when it comes to buying music interfaces, and that will develop over time. The only essential outcome is music of the highest quality, and all the main systems are capable of delivering that.

Have something to share, create your own guide... Write a guide
Explore more guides
Choose a template