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100 Beautiful Vintage Camera Photographs

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It's easy to forget that cameras weren't always defined by megapixels and the quality of their digital sensors. Once upon a time, photographers had to pay for every photo that they took, and they couldn't see them for hours or even days after the shoot.

Today we'll pay homage to the countless cameras that have come and gone, paving the way for our beloved modern DSLRs. Below we'll take a look at modern images of over a hundred beautiful vintage cameras (along with a quick history lesson!)


A Brief History Lesson

Before we dive into the images, it's worth taking a minute to learn about the origins of the art/science of photography. How did it all begin and what are some terms that you should know as you peruse the images below? Let's find out.

The idea of pushing light through a hole to create an image dates all the way back to the 6th century and beyond. However, it wasn't until the invention of photographic plates in the 1700s that photography was really born in the sense that we now know it with the imagery actually being saved in some fashion. These early plates weren't so different than modern day film, with a silver coating being mixed up with various other ingredients to create a surface that reacted when exposed to light.

Once we made the discoveries above, the rest was history. Photography gradually advanced with significant improvements being made in the areas of exposure control, lenses, focusing techniques, light metering and photographic film; the latter of these was originally developed by George Eastman of Eastman Kodak in the late 1800s.

Eastman manufactured his first camera, the "Kodak", in 1888. By 1900, Eastman had advanced his simple box camera idea significantly and released a legendary product that would come to define the market of inexpensive personal cameras in a similar fashion to how the Model T defined automobiles. This camera was called the Brownie. The model shown below, a No. 2A Brownie Model C, is my own and was manufactured around 1924 (watch for my tutorial on how to use it!).

If you look closely, you'll spot a number of Brownies in the images below. These iconic devices evolved and stayed in production until the late 1960s. You can read all about them at The Brownie Camera Page. With that brutally brief history in mind, let's discuss some terms that you might find interesting while scanning the images below.

Box Camera - A box camera is one of the simplest cameras in existence and consists of little else than a box with a lens and one end that lets light in to expose the film on the other end. Most box cameras are fairly rudimentary and lack anything but very basic controls for focus, shutter speed and aperture. The Brownie shown above is a box camera.

Folding Camera - A folding camera uses a bellows (that weird accordion thing) to accomplish the feat of allowing the user to carry around a rather large camera in a fairly compact manner. When closed, the folding camera is very thin and easy to throw in a bag. It then expands to add focal length when unfolded.

Twin-lens Reflex Camera (TLR) - A TLR, as its name implies, is a camera with two lenses on the front. The lenses share the same focal length and are often connected to focus simultaneously. The reason for the additional lens is simply for the viewfinder system, which brought about several benefits (over single-lens reflex cameras) such as a continuous image on the finder screen, and a less-noticeable shutter lag. For our purposes today, TLRs are important because they make particularly attractive photographic subjects!

Instant Camera - An instant camera is one that has a self-developing mechanism so that your images are ready to view right away. Polaroid was obviously the most popular manufacturer of instant cameras and released the first commercial instant camera in 1948. This model was called the Polaroid Land Camera and can be seen in several variations in the collection below.


100 Photos of Vintage Cameras

Vintage cameras - in vintage colour

Agifold

Vintage Cameras

Exa Ihagee Dresden

27-05-10 Because I Have Something To Say

Old to someone, new to me

Self portrait, TLR girl

Kodak Brownie Starlet, 1957 - my first camera

yashicagt0032

I love my hair ornament

Polaroid Land Camera

Argus C3 Match-Matic

Imperial Mark 27

Zeiss Ikon Voigtlander Vitessa 500 AE Electronic

"New" toy

16-05-10 II Beirette

Ferrania Zeta Duplex

My Hassy

Argus Lady Carefree

Hi, Rolleiflex

Zorki 4K

trip 35.1

26-08-10 Just Don't Make Me Choose

Olivia.

Voigtlander

New Toys {Explore}

Canon Demi EE17

#78 - OM1

Klasse (BLACK)

Polaroid Land Camera 1000

Kodak Brownie Target Six-20

Sears

08-05-10 You've Left Me Shimmering

Smena 8M

14/366 - Nikon FM2n

~Nameless~

camera shy

zorki-4 + industrar-61

The Go Getter

by my side

Certo Super Sport Dolly 1937

Kodak Brownie Hawkeye

Polaroid

canonet0069

himaticc0294

Voigtlander Vitoret DR

Monday, Monday

Day 6/50: a little girl's love

crown graphic

chinon0296

reflection from the past

my new toy, thanks to e50e

Dualism

Six-20 Folding 'Brownie' w. 'Dakon' Shutter

Vintage bliss......

First Strobist Attempt

Old Cameras

My trusty old friend

thank you

Brownie Hawkeye

Smile

himatic0065

kodak signet_0936

CMEHA 8M

"P" mode, ON!

spotmatic

rolleiflex_0348

Canon / Bell & Howell Dial 35

indecision {31 of 365}

Braun Super II Rangefinder

autumn story.

kodak signit_0963

Canon AE-1 Program

Canonet QL-19

Camera Junkyard

There's Nothing Quite Like Film

Praktically Ancient

Controlled Chaos

Olympus Trip 35

Vintage Camera

Olympus 35SP

voigtlander vitessa l773-74

128.365 - Swen

The Next Chapter

Lubitel

three cameras

3/52 - vintage 101010

38/52 : Focus

aus Dresden

Moments missed...

Love

Through the Viewfinder

museum mile

who needs a tardis?

Voigtlander

argus c-four

Will You Let Me Take A Picture?

Relegated

Agfa Karat IV

Zeiss Ikon Contaflex III

Cheese

Story without words

Daisies (.164/365)

contina_5103

Polaroid Land Camera 250


Show Us Yours!

Before I conclude, I should say that I'm admittedly not familiar with all of the cameras shown above. It's highly possible that some are fairly modern cameras that just look vintage. If you spot any of these, feel free to point them out in the comments below.

Also, we want to see your vintage cameras! Post an image to Flickr and leave a comment below with the name of the camera model, when you think it was manufactured and whether or not you've ever taken any photos with it!

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