For the past 5 years I have been buying and selling Vintage Cameras and Film related items. I collect cameras from all over the world, and I especially look for those that are a little different or a little more rare than the mainstream vintage cameras that are normally available in the market place. Film photography here in Australia is facing a resurgence. Some high schools now teach darkroom technique and there has been a world wide interest in all things vintage and hence the vintage camera market has started to grow.
So, why use a vintage camera? Film photography is a challenge in that every time you push that little button on the camera, it costs you, to buy and develop the film. However digital photography with its growing "point and shoot" base cost you little if anything at all. You don't have to think about how to frame the shot, how to compose it and most of all how to adjust the settings to create and artistic image rather than simply letting the software in your smart phone do it for you. So with film photography you need to stop, and think about what you are doing. How can I compose this image to gain the best from what is before me? Film has a totally different look to digital. Black and white photography, that is using black and white film comes from a totally different mindset. If you take a black and white image on a digital camera, most people expose the image in colour then convert to black and white. So you see your image in colour then convert. With film photography you see through the viewfinder the world before you in colour but as soon as you push the exposure button you immediately record in black and white. The difference doesn't seem much but because every image costs you, but you have to think twice before you shoot, so in shooting black and white, you then start to think in black and white or should I say you start to think in a totally different way, looking for contrasts and shadows and form because black and white looks more at shapes and form than colour does. Imagine photographing a clown in black and white?
With film photography you can launch out into medium or large format photography. The negatives from medium and large format cameras can capture much more information than the sensor in a digital camera can. If you are adventurous you could explore glass plate photography or even wet plate collodion.
So enough said, to me just the technology of vintage cameras, especially some of the mid last century German cameras are a work of art of engineering. Collecting cameras is a fascinating hobby.
Cameras for sale:
All our camera sell on our Ebay site: Click HERE to check what we have for sale.
More: If the item is marked sold, then click on "Sellers Other Items" at the right side of the Ebay page.
Some Cameras from my collection....
Magic Lantern Projector 1870s
Imagine, very few people owned a camera, you would need to go to a portrait studio to have your photo taken. No cinemas as the motion picture had not been invented yet. No computers, and no glossy coloured books to look through.
If you were lucky the city might put on a Magic lantern slide show or if you went to a private school maybe your school had one. If you were part of a well off family your parents may even buy you one of these small Magic Lantern Slide Projectors so that you could look at images projected onto your wall.
This small projector in its original box dates to the mid 1870s. To illuminate the glass slides a small lamp would be inserted into the lamp, hence the chimney. You would insert the glass slide on which was painted various images, from paintings of Notre Dame Cathedral to cartoon characters along with which you could read an associated story.
A Small Glass Plate Pinhole Camera from 1883
This small camera sis similar to one used by famous Archaeologist Sir William Flinders Petrie to photograph the Great Pyramid at Giza back in the 1880s.
It is a very simple box camera with a slide off lid at the rear. Inside it is a rack that holds the glass plates. At the front of this rack is a frame to hold the plate ready to be exposed once you closed the lid. You would have a darkroom bag that you would carry around with you to change the plates. The shutter is that simple metal thing on the front that resembles a three leaf clover. You simply slid the shutter to one side, counted off the seconds, then closed the shutter. You didn't have a viewfinder to aim the camera, instead there are aiming lines on the side of the camera, that are very hard to see after 135 years. A simple yet profound camera.
The VR (Virtual Reality) handset of the Victorian Era. In the late Victorian Period cameras are developed with twin lenses allowing the photographer to take two images at once at a very slightly different angle to each other. This image would then be developed and printed on card. Once inserted into the Stereoscope you could peer through the viewfinder and see an image in 3D. It was a tremendous success and many cameras were developed and many 3D images taken of all sorts of topics all over the world.
A large box camera from 1906 commonly called a "Detective Camera" but also known as a "Drop Plate" Camera.
These large box cameras earned their name as a Detective camera in a period when cameras were generally uncommon.
A detective would walk down the street with this under his arm, he would previously have set the exposure. Once he sees a scene he needed a discreet photo of he would align the image using the large viewfinder on top of the camera and then simply pull the ring on top or use the cable release at the side, which would activate the shutter.
The falling plate designation came from the film format and mechanism. When an image had been exposed, he would simply flip a small knob on the top of the camera and the exposed plate would drop down to the bottom of the camera and a new unexposed plate would slide forward ready for another shot!
These cameras would later on go into common use by the general public being used up until WWII.
The image below is of some glass plates found inside some of these cameras.
Graflex RB Camera
Used in the short film "Factory Hands" Highlighting the story of Photographer Lewis Hine who used his Graflex camera to portray the abuses of Child labour in the USA and in so doing so changed the course of child labour laws.
The Graflex RB was a large Box shaped SLR camera with a spring loaded , adjustable curtain shutter that allowed adjustment for many different shutter speeds. The curtain would need to be pre wound and triggered to fire a slit opening which travelled across the film.
This camera was supplied by me for use by the Sydney producer Martin Thorne in the short film "Factory Hands" filmed in Sydney on the site of Old Sydney Town. The movie starred Dan Ewing and went on to win various international short film awards.
Read more about Lewis Hine HERE
The Aussie TON Camera
An Australian Photographic firm imported cameras from Harringtons Cameras in the UK. They were sold in Australia under the label "TON" as an abbreviation of HarringTONs. This was a fairly large folding bellows camera similar to Kodaks Number 3 series.