Restoring Vintage Cameras I: The Golden Rule (An eBay Buying Guide)

eBay Ad 2008 “Folding Ansco camera box with tripod.  I call it a camera box because it does not have any optical parts inside. The box (without tripod) is made of wood and brass and glass.  And the length depends on if it’s folded shut or opened all the way.  There is glass in either end.   The “box” folds and moves and tilts and swivels in more ways than one can imagine. It does everything but take a picture!   If you have any questions please email me.  Goat in photos not included.” ——————————————————- The most important thing to remember about restoring vintage cameras is: Don’t. Don’t put yourself in the position of doing a thing that you don’t have to. …Continue Reading

Selecting A Vintage Camera IV: The Baby Pacemaker Crown Graphic

For those who want to take a step up in technical capability, gaining ground glass focusing, basic camera movements, depth of field correction, interchangeable lenses, interchangeable film backs, and the ability to use short focus, wide angle lenses, yet still retaining the convenience of 120 roll film, stepping up to a minature (2 x 3 in format) “Technical” camera is the logical next step.  However, most of these, such as the Linhof, are quite expensive.  However, if one wishes to combine a reasonable price tag with most of these functions, the 2×3 Baby Pacemaker Crown Graphic is an amazing little camera.  Manufactured between 1947 and 1958, this small Pacemaker Crown Graphic is essentially a miniature large format camera boasting, with…Continue Reading

Selecting a Vintage Camera III: Plate Cameras

One option for vintage fine art photography using roll film is the “plate camera”.  Although many cameras manufactured between the late 1800s and the 1930s used glass plates, this term is often used specifically to refer to a type of small folding camera, usually in 6×9 or 9×12 cm format, designed specifically to use small glass plates or sheet film.  These cameras can be fitted with 120 roll film backs, available on eBay, in place of plate holders.  The small plate camera is actually quite an early design, with the first models being produced around 1915 (see the KW post).  Production continued into the late 1930s, when glass plates were no longer a popular medium and these models were largely…Continue Reading

Selecting a Vintage Camera I: Roll Film Cameras

A number of cameras manufactured between 1910 and 1950 are eminently suitable for high-quality fine art photography, while many more are, for one reason or other, best left as bookshelf decorations. The first consideration is film size. Over the last 100 years, Kodak has produced roll film in a multiplicity of formats from the tiny disc and 110 sizes through 35mm up to 7×5 inch “Postcard” widths (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Film_format). Over the years, the majority of these formats have been eliminated, and roll film is presently available primarily in 35mm and 120 sizes, together with 4×5, 5×7, and 8×10 sheet film. Consequently, many cameras from 1910-1930 are unusable without modification because film is no longer available. Fortunately, 120 film was in use…Continue Reading