Certo Super Sport Dolly
Certo Super Sport Dolly

…Germany was the undisputed leader of camera manufacturing in the early 20th century.  Prior to WWII, there were a large number of companies like Certo who produced a large number of high quality “nickel and leather” cameras like these Super Sport Dollies.  Most early German cameras had a high quality leaf shutter like the Compur, and lenses made by one of Germany’s many excellent optics companies like Zeiss, Schneider, or Meyer-Optik.

Rolleiflex Old Standard
Rolleiflex Old Standard

…the Rolleiflex was built by a company called Franke & Heidecke, and first released in 1929.  Prior to the Rolleiflex, the company made stereo lens TLR cameras.  The original Rolleiflex was designed for a type of roll film called 117 film that gave eight 6cm x 6cm images per roll.  Later versions would use 120 format film increasing the number of exposures to 12.

Olympus XA2
Olympus XA2

…Designed by famed Olympus designer Maitani Yoshihisa the Olympus XA2 is a camera whose reputation precedes itself.  This is a very well known and very highly regarded camera for a reason.  Perhaps the best characteristic of the camera is that it offers some of the simplicity of a 1980s point and shoot camera, in a very small package, with an excellent lens and meter, but with the control and speed of a manual focus camera.  The entire XA series are highly sought after by collectors and photographers alike for good reason.

Kodak Retina
Kodak Retina

…the Kodak Retina was developed by a man named Dr. August Nagel after the Eastman Kodak Company purchased’s Nagel’s own Nagel Camera-Werke company in 1931.  Nagel was one of the most successful German camera designers of the time, previously working for Zeiss and Contessa-Nettel.  The Retina was the world’s first camera designed for Kodak’s then new format of 35mm ‘miniature’ film.

Olympus Pen F
Olympus Pen F

…Olympus re-introduced half frame 35mm cameras with the original Pen in 1959.  This started a huge trend of half frame cameras released by almost every manufacturer in the 1960s.  Despite the competition, Olympus topped them all with their Olympus Pen F SLR.  The smaller size of the exposed image meant the camera could have a sideways mirror and pentaprism inside of the body decreasing the overall size, while still maintaining all of the benefits of an SLR.

Kodak No. 3A Folding Brownie
Kodak No. 3A Folding Brownie

…the Eastman Kodak Company was one of the most influential photographic companies of all time.  Pioneering the earliest forms of photographic film, they introduced the world to a dizzying array of inexpensive folding and box cameras like this No. 3A Folding Brownie from 1909.  Despite their vast number of cameras, Kodak was always a film first camera, selling new models as a means to get more people to buy film.

Berning Robot
Berning Robot

…the Robot series of cameras by the Robot Berning Company remain one of the most highly sought after and unique cameras ever made.  Offering an extremely compact, but high quality body that shoots 24mm x 24mm square photos on regular 35mm film, all Robots featured a motorized clockwork film advance, a rotary shutter, interchangeable lens mount, and a series of high quality lenses, making them very interesting cameras to both collect and shoot.

Miranda Sensorex
Miranda Sensorex

…at one point in time, the Miranda Sensorex was seen as a viable low cost option to pro cameras like the Nikon F and Topcon RE Super.  Although it shared a similar feature set, and an available selection of excellent lenses, quality control proved to be the company’s undoing.  The Sensorex was in production for nearly 6 years and was one of the company’s biggest successes prior to their failure.

KW Praktina
KW Praktina

…Kamera-Werke Niedersedlitz was formed in Dresden in 1919 by two Jewish businessmen who made innovative cameras in the early 20th century.  In the late 1930s, due to political pressure, the two owners sold the company to an American businessman and his son who took over the company, but shortly after the end of the war, were imprisoned by the Soviet army for a crime they didn’t commit.  The Praktina was developed as a professional version of the company’s Praktica camera and at the time was the most advanced 35mm SLR camera in the world.

Nikon Rangefinders
Nikon Rangefinders

…Nikon was originally formed in 1917 as Nippon Kogaku K.K. or Japanese Optical Company in English.  Nikon’s earliest years were devoted almost exclusively to developing products for the Japanese military.  Their first consumer goods were not released until after WWII, and the company did not officially drop the Nippon Kogaku name until 1988.

Barnack Leica
Barnack Leica

…the original Leica camera wasn’t designed as an actual camera, but as a 35mm cinema film tester.  In 1913, it’s creator Oskar Barnack was working on a 35mm motion picture camera for Leitz, and needed a way to calibrate the shutter speeds based on the film stocks he had available.  He built a single frame film tester that would expose a single image on 35mm film to get an idea of it’s exposure.  It would be another 10 years before the company saw the potential for this device to be made as an actual camera.

Anscomark M
Anscomark M

…many cameras made over the last century cross over between multiple companies.  The Anscomark M was an interchangeable lens 35mm rangefinder sold and marketed by the American company ANSCO, but was built by the Japanese company Riken, in exchange for photocopier technology owned by ANSCO’s German parent company, GAF.  The resulting camera turned out to be one of the most distinctive looking cameras ever!

Welcome

Welcome to my site.  My name is Mike Eckman and I’ve been running this site for a few years without any predefined direction for what kind of content would be here.  In late 2014, I had a “re-discovery” of film cameras which took off into directions I never could have imagined.  I grew a collection of film cameras made in nearly every decade of the 20th century and started reviewing them. 

This entire site is maintained entirely by me and hosted on a custom built Windows 2008 server in the basement of my home in northwest Indiana.  Every review and article was written by me using mostly cameras from my personal collection.  A small number of reviews were written about cameras that were loaned to me by other collectors.  I often source my factual information from other sites on the Internet and I do my best to provide credit wherever I can.

If you have any questions, comments, corrections, or criticism of anything on this site, I’d love to hear from you!

Newest Posts

Everything from the latest vintage camera review, a Keppler's Vault blast from the past, or some other camera related article, it's all here in reverse chronological order.
Rolleiflex Standard K2 Type 622 (1932)
This is a Rolleiflex Standard K2 Twin Lens Reflex medium format camera, built by Franke & Heidecke Brunswick between the years 1932 and 1938.  This model was the first revision...
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Recommended Reading 3/15/19
I am a big fan of Australian photographer Cheyenne Morrison after reading several of his posts online and listening to his appearance on Episode 38 of the Classic Lenses Podcast. ...
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Yashica Pentamatic S (1961)
This is a Yashica Pentamatic S, a 35mm SLR camera made by Yashica Co., Ltd. starting in May 1961 through the end of 1962.  The Pentamatic S was the third...
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Recommended Reading 3/8/19
For this week's Recommended Reading post, I'm revising the format slightly as the WordPress embed feature doesn't seem to be working for me. In Jim Grey's regular series "Operation Thin...
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One Hour Photo: Rick Oleson
One Hour Photo is a series of casual one on one conversations with a variety of people I admire who in one way or another have helped me along the...
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Olympus Pen EE-S (1962)
This is an Olympus Pen EE-S, a 35mm half frame camera made by Olympus Optical Co., Ltd. between the years of 1962 and 1966.  As with all cameras from Olympus's...
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Recommended Reading 3/1/19
Well the secret is out.  Thanks a lot James.  I've been wanting to add more Wirgin Edixa Reflexes to my collection for some time, but a combination of high prices...
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Keppler’s Vault 32: Ciro-Flex
A common question I often see asked in classic film or vintage camera discussion groups like Vintage Camera Collectors on Facebook, is for advice on what is an inexpensive way...
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Featured Guides

These how-to guides were written in an attempt to help the novice collector start a collection, use it, and what to do when things go wrong.
The Outdoor Eight Rule – Metering without a Meter for Beginners
Whether you are new to shooting film or are a grizzled veteran, you've likely heard someone mention a fundamental rule of photography called "The Sunny 16 Rule". The Sunny 16...
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Breathing New Life into Old Cameras
I made my first old camera post in August 2014.  At that time, I had no idea where this hobby would take me.  I already had an interest in digital...
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What Is My Camera Worth?
As a member of the Vintage Camera Collectors group on Facebook, the most common "new member" post is from someone who in one way or another, has acquired an old...
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Mike’s Guide to Buying Old Cameras
As my collection of old cameras grows, I feel as though I have learned a few things along the way.  There are many sites on the 'net from people like...
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Contact Me

If you would like to contact me about a review on this site, or a question you have about a particular camera, use this form.

I likely won’t have any useful information about a camera if I haven’t already reviewed it.  I only have experience with models in my own personal collection.  I do accept donations, but if you are looking to sell your camera, you’ll get more money by selling it on eBay than I’d likely pay you for it.  I am a notorious cheapskate!