Vintage camera collection

It was while building a new collection tree for a category dedicated to photographic and cinema equipment that we felt the need to write about this kind of collection. In this article, we will present you everything there is to know about your photographic collection or try to incite you to dive into this universe!


Why collecting cameras and photography equipment?

Different types of collectors

Where to find collectable cameras and photography equipment?

How to classify your camera collection?

How to estimate the value of my collection?




Why collecting cameras and photography equipment?


Modern photographic equipment is often not considered as collectible items. Usually left behind in the back of closets, such boxes and lenses that no longer work are of little interest to their owners. However, many would be surprised at the value of these objects in the history of photography, just like the famous nineteenth-century photo chambers. Indeed, we have seen cameras circulating over the years that are as efficient as they are bizarre, and whether it is because of their quality or their innovative aspect, we can definitely consider that the reasons that make them collector items are legion. 

Personally, my interest in this topic comes more from the aspect and the photographic innovations over the years than from their historical significance. It is exciting to observe how brands have innovated to bring this practice into consumers' homes, making these cameras ever more compact, accessible and fun. Sometimes judged to be of bad taste, (e.g. the yashica samurai in the photo below) it is nevertheless through these eccentricities that some brands have become references in the industry.

Example of the Yashica Samurai X3.0 with a much criticized design



The different types of collectors


Faced with the multiple possibilities of collecting in photography, each of us adopts a particular relationship with his or her collection and future acquisitions. We have, in a  previous article, listed the different types of collectors, but I would like to add some small precisions specific to the theme addressed here. The motivations and profiles of collectors of photographic material can thus be described as follows:

The passionate: He is the photographer of all time, in love with modern and old cameras alike. He wishes to gather the most famous objects and looks above all for tools in working order because his passion, before being a collector, is photography.

The technophobe: Nostalgic for another era, the technophobe collects above all old material. He looks for that charm that cameras no longer have in the digital age. Although he can also be passionate, he restricts himself to the oldest objects that are as different as possible from recent innovations. 

The historian: He is a pure collector, fascinated by all kinds of objects found in flea markets or online. He is looking for pieces that will be rarer and of a higher value than an enthusiast. What matters is the place of the object in the History of photography and therefore its value as a collector's item. 




Where to find collectable cameras and photography equipment?


The advantage when you want to start a collection of photographic equipment is the ease with which you can find your happiness. Indeed, many items that are well known and of interest to collectors are for the most part very widespread and affordable. 

However, in my opinion, it is when we stumble upon old appliances that belonged to members of our family and are kept in the bottom of a trunk or a cupboard that the collector in us wakes up. Many questions come to us and demand an answer. Is this device still functional? How does it work? What is its history? Is it the silent witness of all those holidays, family reunions or Christmas meals I've been told about? The sentimental charge that accompanies photographic objects is immense; when you discover a camera, you lift the veil on a whole story. 

However, if you are looking for rarities from the History of Photography and dream of finding gems such as the "Premo" series of Kodak bellows cameras, then you should be prepared to scour the specialized sites, forums and flea markets to hope to find your happiness while respecting your budget. Because yes, the budget and the value attributed to photographic equipment can be substantial.



How do you classify your camera collection?


We now turn to the question we asked ourselves and which is at the origin of the writing of this article: How to classify one's cameras? 

The first distinction we wanted to make is to separate the types of cameras according to their technical characteristics. If a collection spans a large period in the history of photography, it is indeed preferable to classify it according to a chronological method. It can also be interesting to group your collection by type of brand owned, so that early Kodak or Nikon fans can easily differentiate their cameras and quickly find their way around. 

Indeed, although they have totally changed their appearance and characteristics, modern cameras are produced by brands that are pioneers in the field. One example is the iconic Leica brand which, thanks to its innovation, brought a new type of body to replace the bulky photographic chambers used at the beginning of the 1930s and thus launched the market for compact silver photography. 

Photographic chamber Kodak Premo (1930) and Leica I (1931)

To this can also be added the accessories that have their place in our collections. It is then possible to gather in one section all the tripods, flashes, adapters, glass plates... that you own. And it is never too late to start organizing and sharing them online on CollecOnline.



How to estimate the value of my collection?


As with any collection object, it can sometimes be difficult to estimate the value of photographic material, especially since in this case the condition and functioning of the object is very important. In order to be able to carry out a first estimation, there are for example quotation index as well as specialized expertise solutions in the field of photography such as: Antiq-photo

The advice of experts in the field can be very useful to situate oneself and not overestimate one's collection. For this we advise you to call upon the community of certain forums such as: 


If you want more...


You can of course inquire directly on CollecOnline, explore the collections and contact the collectors who will be happy to advise you. As you might have guessed from the introduction to this article, we have just built the classification tree for the world of photography so don't hesitate to become one of the pioneers by building your building gallery. We already have a nice collection of vintage cameras, and one of original glass plates.

Many thanks to our collector Damien Guillaume for his precious help! For my part, I'm going back to completing my collection and taking pictures. Manolo.

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