Classic & Historical Cameras

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Sandy Ritz and Dean Ritz Posted: Jan 01, 2006 42 comments

The history of the Kardon camera is a story of forgotten American genius. The Kardon camera, manufactured in several variations from 1945-'54 represents an important American contribution to the then-state-of-the-art "miniature" camera. And it represents Peter Kardon's patriotic effort to answer to the US military's need for a high-quality 35mm camera...

John Wade Posted: Oct 01, 2008 0 comments

The Mecaflex was one of the smallest 35mm single lens reflexes ever made. It was designed by Heinz Kilfitt, who, in 1947, opened an optical company in Leichtenstein that subsequently relocated to Munich. It was here that he made a name for himself producing high-precision lenses that included the 40mm f/2.8 Kilar--the world's first 35mm macro lens--and the Zoomar...

John Wade Posted: Mar 22, 2012 Published: Feb 01, 2012 3 comments
When Leitz launched the Leica in 1925, they did more than start the 35mm revolution. They also influenced the way some rollfilm manufacturers began to consider smaller formats. One result was small rollfilm cameras that took their own unique sizes of extra-small film. The Ensign Midget was one of the best.
Jon Sienkiewicz Posted: Jan 01, 2010 2 comments

The inside joke at Minolta was that the “CL” in Leica CL stood for “Cheap Leica.” Surely owners of Leica M4s and M5s felt the same way—even though it wasn’t true.

Roger W. Hicks Posted: Mar 01, 2008 0 comments

This is, by any standards, an unusual camera: a special edition of a special edition. It's the rare (and otherwise discontinued) Nikon S-mount version of the all-mechanical Bessa R2, with minor cosmetic changes to reflect its Nikon Historical Society status, and it comes with the highly desirable and extremely retro-looking 50mm f/3.5 S-Heliar. At $999 it's not cheap...

John Wade Posted: Mar 07, 2013 Published: Feb 01, 2013 13 comments
The Voigtländer Prominent was one of the most sophisticated cameras of the 1950s—also among the most complicated, and just a bit eccentric. It was launched in 1951, a time when 35mm rangefinder cameras were at their peak. Yet it anticipated the approaching popularity of single lens reflexes by offering devices that converted it from rangefinder to reflex use and surrounding itself with interchangeable lenses, viewfinders, close-up attachments, filters, and other accessories that made it a true system camera.
John Wade Posted: Jul 08, 2011 Published: Jun 01, 2011 4 comments
When it was launched in 1956, advertisements of the time claimed the Rittreck to be the world’s most versatile Single Lens Reflex (SLR). It’s a statement that would be difficult to argue with. How many other SLRs can you name that offered interchangeable lenses, interchangeable backs, close-up facilities, a choice of four different formats, and the option of shooting on roll film or cut film?
Jason Schneider Posted: Apr 01, 2006 0 comments

Renowned "camera collector" Jason Schneider is out there scouring camera stores, Internet sites, and camera shows to bring you the best bargains in user collectibles, recent gems, and vintage gear.
--Editor

Presuming you haven't been meditating in a cave in Tibet for the past few years, you know that the prices of medium format...

Jason Schneider Posted: May 01, 2006 0 comments

While I am hardly a charter member of the anti-digitist (I shoot about 70 percent digital these days, mostly with a Canon EOS 20D, and I'm currently nursing a bad case of 5D lust) I will confess to being a long-time Nikon nut. When I acquired my first Nikon F in the early 1960s, I thought I had died and gone to heaven, and there are at least half a dozen Nikon cameras on my...

Jason Schneider Posted: Jul 01, 2006 0 comments

Before launching into paeans of praise for the Nikon F, which, in my arrogant opinion, may well be the most important 35mm SLR of the 20th century, I must confess to being a tiny bit biased. When I acquired my first F as a teen-ager back in 1961 (alas after trading in a mint Leica IIIg with a 50mm f/2.8 collapsible Elmar) I knew I had finally arrived. I strutted around lower...

Jason Schneider Posted: Apr 01, 2007 0 comments

The redoubtable Nikon F3 was scorned by traditionalists in 1980, but variants of this modern classic remained in production for over 21 years--longer than any other pro 35mm SLR.

When the sleek, ergonomically contoured, ruggedly reliable Nikon F3 debuted back in '80, it was greeted with cheers and jeers. Some long-time Nikon fans were gratified to have an...

Rick Shimonkevitz Posted: Mar 01, 2005 0 comments

Imagine a hand holdable single lens reflex camera that has front movements similar to a view camera to allow control of plane of focus. If you think that's a pretty modern concept, you are only about 100 years too late. The Soho Reflex camera, made from 1905 up to the 1940s, was just such an item. Manufactured by Kershaw of Leeds, England, and marketed under several...

John Wade Posted: Aug 27, 2013 Published: Jul 01, 2013 2 comments
The Twin Lens Reflex (TLR) design involved two lenses, one to record its image on film, the other to reflect its image to a focusing screen. The style dates back to the days of plate cameras, but came to the fore with the launch of the Rolleiflex in 1928.
John Wade Posted: Mar 01, 2010 0 comments

In 1947, the English Wray Optical Company took out a patent on an amazing and innovative 35mm Single Lens Reflex (SLR). It had an eye-level penta-prism viewfinder, instant return mirror, Through The Lens (TTL) metering, and a built-in clockwork motor drive—four features never before seen on this type of camera.

The design was acquired from an...

Roger W. Hicks Posted: Nov 08, 2012 Published: Oct 01, 2012 2 comments
Limited production, exquisite fit and finish, and usability, too: how much more does it take to qualify a camera as a classic, or a collectible? Maybe a good dash of eccentricity; and the NPC 195 qualifies on all counts.

The fortunes of NPC (Newton Plastics Corporation) rose and fell with those of Polaroid. They were probably best known to most photographers for their Polaroid proofing backs using the late Marty Forscher’s patents for optical-fiber transfer of the image, though they also made a superb tripod head of unique design (the Pro-Head), a microscope camera, and more. They did a lot of government work, including for NASA, but a few years ago, after decades of success, they closed their doors.

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