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.

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.

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.

Polaroid SX-70
Polaroid SX-70

…the name Polaroid is synonymous with the idea of instant film.  First introduced in 1947 by Edwin Land, the first Polaroid cameras used a type of roll film that produced images in as quick as one minute.  The company’s greatest success wouldn’t come until 1972 when Land introduced the SX-70, a new type of folding camera that used an integrated instant film that produced a square image on a single sheet.  The SX-70 would launch a huge number of very successful instant film formats and cameras, until the company’s demise in 2009.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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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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.  Although this site seemed to turn into a vintage photography blog, I am retaining the original intent of this site to be a personal blog.  I plan on continuing to make a variety of vintage camera reviews and other photography related articles, but the site will still be sprinkled with posts covering a variety of other topics.

This entire site is maintained entirely by me and hosted on a custom built Windows 2008 server in the basement of my home in Dyer, IN.  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.  This site generates no ad revenue and what few costs are associated with running it are paid out of my own pocket.

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.
Pentacon Penti II (1961)
This is a Penti II originally made by VEB Welta-Kamera-Werk in East Germany between the years 1961 and 1977.  Welta would be absorbed into VEB Pentacon in 1964 while this camera...
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Keppler’s Vault 25: Light Value Scale
One of the thrills of shooting old cameras is stepping back in time and experiencing what a photographer likely experienced years ago before the widespread use of plastics, LCD screens,...
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Fujica 35 Automagic (1961)
This is a Fujica 35 Automagic, a 35mm scale focus camera made by Fuji Photo Film Co. LTD starting in 1961.  Although an entry level camera, it was one of...
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Voigtländer Vitessa L (1954)
This is a Voigtländer Vitessa L, a 35mm rangefinder camera made by Voigtländer AG Braunschweig between the years of 1954 and 1957.  This model was an update to the original Vitessa A...
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Voigtländer Superb (1933)
This is a Voigtländer Superb, a twin lens reflex camera made by Voigtländer AG Braunschweig between the years of 1933 and 1939.  The Superb was Voigtländer's first and what would end up...
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Voigtländer Bessamatic Deluxe (1962)
This is a Voigtländer Bessamatic Deluxe made by Voigtländer AG Braunschweig between the years of 1962 and 1967.  It is a slightly improved model to the original Bessamatic from 1959 with the...
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Voigtländer Prominent (1952)
This is a Voigtländer Prominent 35mm rangefinder camera made by Voigtländer AG Braunschweig between the years 1952 and 1958.  At the time of it's release, it was Voigtländer's top of the line 35mm...
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The Land of the Cameras of the Dead
Aaaah, Halloween is here again!  Candy, costumes, trick-or-treaters, and for the third year in a row, another "Cameras of the Dead" post! This being my 5th Cameras of the Dead...
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KMZ Zenit-E (1965)
This is a Zenit-E 35mm SLR camera, made by Krasnogorski Mekhanicheskii Zavod (KMZ) in the former Soviet Union between the years of 1965 and 1986.  The entire Zenit (Зенит) line was...
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