Our love affair with photography has endured for nearly two centuries, during which time technology and fashion have been instrumental in the introduction of cameras in all shapes and sizes. These can be loosely categorised as instant, 35mm, folding, movie, rangefinder, Twin Lens Reflex (TLR), Single Lens Reflex (SLR), box, sub-mini, stereo and disc cameras.
Collecting Vintage Cameras
From the earliest wood and brass cameras to Polaroid, 35mm, medium format and large format cameras, the market for vintage cameras is thriving. This presents new collectors with a superb but potentially overwhelming choice. Therefore, it is recommended to focus in on particular camera feature, camera type, a specific era, manufacturer or country of origin to get a collection started.
Buying Vintage Cameras to Use
Not all vintage cameras are priceless gems. In fact, out of the tens of thousands of camera types manufactured over the last 150 or so years, relatively few command the highest values. However, what mass produced vintage cameras do offer is a very price-friendly introduction to practical photography, especially for those who wish to shoot on slide, black and white or colour film.
What to Look out for When Buying Vintage Cameras
For collectors and photographers alike, the condition of a camera can dictate not only its monetary value but its ability as a working photographic device. There's plenty to look out for and check. For example, does the camera have dents, scratches or are there signs of corrosion? Are lenses clear with no faze and no sign of fungus? Additionally, for cameras from the 1970s and 1980s, are the bodies still light proof and do the electronics still work? Earlier cameras may have fewer or no electronics to go wrong but again should be checked thoroughly for wear, tear, body damage, lens condition and light proofing.