As an amateur photographer I take a lot of inspiration, and learn new skills, from my son who is a qualified professional photographer.
Vintage Cameras Through the Ages
22 of the great and some unusual vintage cameras from 1903 to 1953, including a Magic Lantern, exposed under the lens; with photos and brief description for each. Mostly Eastman Kodak cameras featured here along with a few of the more obscure cameras from Britain, Germany and Italy. Detailed information, including dates of manufacturer, is given where available; we're still researching details for six of the cameras and once complete I will compile and write-up the information and publish it in this article.
My son recently passing his degree in 'Broadcast Media' has with a close friend from university embarked on the ambitious adventure of setting up his own 'Proper Job Productions' business. A Multimedia Production Business, specialising in Professional Photography and Video Productions, for Gigs and Special Events.
A close friend of ours who had a box full of old cameras in his loft collecting dust kindly donated them to 'Proper Job Productions' for props. One project planned using these props is for a couple of friends, an actress and a model who also recently passed their degrees and now embarking on their chosen careers, to appear in 'Period Costume' to be filmed with these vintage cameras.
Butchers Magic Lantern
Magic lantern Coronet Horizontal Enlarger, manufactured between 1914 and 1926.
The Butchers Magic Lantern made almost entirely from wood and metal with chains manufactured by W Butchers and Sons LTD.
The Magic Lantern "Coronet Horizontal Enlarger" By W Butcher & Sons Ltd, made in England between 1914 and 1926 is a magnificent show piece if ever I saw one. It’s made in the style of a Victorian Magic Lantern which was popular in the Edwardian era.
The Magic Lantern made from Mahogany wood with brass bound lens and fittings and a tin housing with bellows is about two feet long when extended and 15 inches when closed.
Wooden Magic Lantern by W Butchers and Sons LTD
Cameras in Working Order
Except for Availability of Film
Of all the cameras kindly donated to 'Proper Job Productions' most are Kodak and all are in working order except for one of the Coronet cameras where the cases have warped. The non-Kodak cameras includes the Coronet Every Distance box camera c1935, the Coronet Cub compact camera with purse case c1946, Carbine Box Camera and Magic Lantern made by Butcher's British Cameras, the Nagel Vollenda 1930-1934, Purma Special 1937-1951 and the Bencini Koroll made in Italy c1951 although Kodak took over this company around that time the camera continued to be manufactured under the CMF Bencini name.
Below is a brief description and photo of each camera, the images being shown here with the kind permission of 'Proper Job Productions' the copyright holder. The full range of cameras and images from different angles and the insides can be viewed by visiting the Proper Job Productions website; the link for the website is near the bottom of this article.
Agfa Synchro Box 600 (Germany 1951-1957)
Later Version to the Agfa Box 50 with Added Flash Synchronised Shutter
Agfa, founded in 1867, Berlin, German to produce chemicals for photography started manufacturing its own cameras from 1926 shortly after acquiring the Rietzschel camera works in Munich, Germany.
Agfa produced its first 6x9 cm exposures on roll film in 1930 and from 1937 its first 35mm camera. The model shown here which used the 120 roll film is the AGFA Synchro Box 600 manufactured in Germany between 1951 and 1957. The Agfa Synchro box 600 is a later version of the Agfa Box 50 marketed for just a short period between 1950 and 1951, the only real difference between the AGFA Synchro Box 600 and the Agfa Box 50 is the addition of an added flash synchronised shutter to the AGFA Synchro Box 600. The lens was very basic so the image, although fairly sharp, was not of a great quality.
Caught Cap Napping in Agfa Viewfinder
Eastman Kodak Company
Many of the cameras donated to ‘Proper Job Productions’ are Kodak cameras. Kodak, originally the Eastman Kodak Company was founded by George Eastman in 1888 with his introduction of his first camera called the ‘Kodak’. In 1879 George Eastman, from Rochester, New York, America, at the time a bank employee in Rochester and an amateur photographer, invented an emulsion-coating machine for mass production of dry plates and had this patented in England. It was this invention which years later formed the basis of his first camera, the ‘Kodak’ which included a 100 exposure paper roll film built-in and sold for a staggering $25. Once the roll film was used the customer returned the camera complete with film for it to be sent back to the factory for development and once processed the camera would be returned to the costumer with a fresh roll-film installed. In 1900 George Eastman introduced the first ‘Brownie’ costing just $1 and included film for six exposures; the successful and popular Brownie camera series continued until 1970.
Eastman Kodak No 3a pocket b-3 1903-1915
No 1a Folding Pocket Automatic Kodak 1905-1912
Manufactured 1905 To 1915
Folding Pocket Automatic Eastman Kodak Camera. This model with the red bellows was manufactured between 1905 and 1912 and then from November of 1912 it was made with black bellows until 1915. The bed of the camera body automatically popped out when the release was pressed, known as a self-extracting bed. The camera used roll film 116 for 2.5 x 4.25 inch exposures.
Canadian Kodak No.2 Cartridge Hawk-Eye (Model B) 1913-1930
An inexpensive cardboard box body covered in black leatherette, with a real leather strap. This camera had two prism view finders, one on the top for portraits and the other on the side to take landscape photos. The Hawk-Eye cameras were originally made by the Boston Camera Company who were taken over by Blair Camera Company in 1890 and in turn by Eastman Kodak in 1899. The Model B was manufactured from 1913 with the one shown here being manufactured by the Canadian Kodak company, although they were also made in England from 1927 until c1930.
Eastman Kodak No 3 Autographic Kodak Special 1914-1926
Aluminium construction covered with genuine Persian morocco and metal parts; finished in nickel or black enamel. The camera included the autographic feature; an option to write a short note on the back of the negative with a stylus e.g. name, date and place etc., and included a range finder, adjustable rack and pinion focus, focusing scale and reversible view finder.
Eastman Kodak No 3A Autographic Kodak Model C
An Autographic Camera (1914-1934)
3A Autographic Kodak Model C. An autographic version of the 3A model which allowed the user to make notes on the back of the negative; this camera made from wood and covered in leather used the 122 film.
Vest Pocket Kodak
With Autographic Feature (1915-1926)
This Eastman Kodak camera, with eight exposures per roll and the autographic feature, was small and light and designed for the top jacket pocket. The camera was a metal construction with a black enamel finish and black leather bellows and a reversible view finder. Kodak introduced the autographic feature into their cameras in 1912.
Eastman Kodak No 2a Folding Autographic Brownie 1915-1926
This camera manufactured by the Canadian Kodak Company in Toronto, Canada and the Eastman Kodak Company in New York was constructed of metal with imitation leather covering a reversible reflecting view finder and sliding focusing with lock. It was originally made with square end cases but changed to rounded edges from serial number 64,501 in November 1917.
Eastman Kodak No. 0 Brownie Camera Model A (1916)
An inexpensive camera made from card and wood with a hinged back and two reflecting view finders, one viewfinder for Portraits when held upright and the other to take Landscape photos the camera is held on its side.
Contessa Nettel Camera
Folding Camera with Focal-Plane Shutters
Manufactured in Germany 1919-1926
The Contessa Nettel Company was formed in 1919 from a merger of Nettel (founded in southern Germany in 1902) and Drexier & Nagel. The company later merged with Zeiss Ikon in 1926. During the seven years between 1919 and 1926 the Contessa Nettel manufactured and sold numerous variations of this type of camera.
Butcher No 2 Box Carbine Camera
Butchers British Cameras 1920s
A basic box camera made from cardboard and covered in black (sometimes brown) leatherette with a wire frame finder, twin reflecting viewfinders and simple rotary shutter. This camera was manufactured in Britain by W. Butcher & Co in the 1920s. The company was founded by William Butcher who in 1860 had an established chemist business in London and by 1895 was manufacturing their own goods under the "Primus" name.
Kodak Brownie No 2 Brownie Model F (1924)
Originally Leatherette covered card but replaced by Model F in 1924 with a metal box. The camera had a fixed focus with two view finders. These Brownie cameras were manufactured by the Eastman Kodak Company in America and Canada from 1901 and by Kodak in Britain from 1928 to 1935; the camera shown here is the Model F made in Britain with a metal box body.
Eastman Kodak Vest Pocket Kodak Model B (1925-1934)
A foldaway Vest Pocket black bellows camera designed to be placed in a jacket pocket when not in use. This camera was designed with a reversible viewfinder, Lens for fixed or adjustable focus and a rotary shutter with four stops including instantaneous and time exposure. It was made with an all metal body covered in iridescent finish with nickel and black enamel fittings. This camera had the Autographic feature for use with Autographic Film to record information, such as name, date, place on the negative at the same time the picture is taken; done by pushing back a sliding door on the back of the camera to reveal a narrow and writing onto the back of the negative with a stylus before winding on the film.
Eastman Kodak No 1a Pocket Kodak (1926-1932)
A black bellows folding pocket camera with a worm screw focusing device, focusing scale and reversible view finder that could take twelve exposures per film roll. This camera, with the autographic feature, was made with a strong aluminium body covered with a durable material with the metal parts being finished in nickel or black enamel.
Butchers No 4 Watch Pocket Carbine Camera (1927)
Manufactured by Butchers of London, England
Butchers produced a series of Tropical Carbine models from 1922 until the late 1930s. The largest was the No. 12 Watch Pocket Carbine camera made from 1926. The model featured here is the Butchers no 4 watch pocket carbine made from 1927 as a cheaper version.
Nagel Vollenda 80/0
Manufactured in the early 1930s
An all metal body covered in black leatherette with folding bellows. This camera, manufactured in Stuttgart, Germany, could focus from two meters to infinity with five shutter speeds and Timer. The model shown here, the Nagel Vollenda 80/0, is almost identical to the Nagel Vollenda 70/0 and was produced by Nagel sometime between 1930 and 1934; Kodak took over this company at the end of 1931.
Coronet Every Distance (1935)
An all metal box camera covered in black leatherette and embossed Art Deco design on the surface. The 'Every Distance' lens had three focal distances, selected by toggle to focus on 5 feet, 10 feet and infinity. These box cameras were made in England c1935 by the Coronet Camera Company which was founded in Birmingham, England c1926 by F.W. Pettifer.
Purma Special (1937-1951)
This camera looks a bit more like the more modern pre-digital instamatic cameras and yes it's a moulded plastic (Bakelite) body with metal parts. It has a fixed lens aperture of f6.3 giving a focal length from ten feet to infinity.
However this camera is rather special in that it has a rather novel innovative mechanism that uses gravity to control the shutter speed of 1/25 (Slow), 1/50 (Medium) and 1/450 (Fast) dependent on how you hold the camera. Rather than a shutter speed selector you choose the fast shutter speed by holding the camera vertical with the wind knob in the up position, the medium shutter speed by holding he camera horizontal and the slow speed by holding the camera horizontal with the wind know in the down position. For this reason the film used was square, taking 16 square photos on 127 films.
The Purma Special was produced by Purma Cameras Ltd of London and sold by R. F. Hunter of London, England.
Coronet Cub (1946)
A more modern looking simple viewfinder camera with plastic body with a sprung telescoping front and folding frame viewfinder mounted on the top. The viewfinder shown here was replaced by a fixed tubular version in 1948 on the Anastigmat and Flash models and later built into the top plate.
There were several versions of this camera made in England from 1939 until about 1948 by the Coronet Camera Company. The original model introduced in 1939 was all plastic with a single-speed shutter and fixed-focus lens; the model shown here which has metal top and bottom plates with an f10 lens was introduced in 1946.
Kodak Six-20 Brownie C (1946-1953)
A metal body box camera, covered in Morocco-grained imitation leather, with two viewfinders. These were manufactured in Britain and the model shown here is from the original batch made between 1946 and 1953 which had a plain matt enamel front with metal wind knob and release button. The later models were made from 1953 to 1957 and had a horizontally striped front with plastic wind knob and release button and a triangular spring back catch.
Koroll Made in Italy c1951
Manufacturer Bencini Koroll (CMF Bencini)
The model shown here was made in Italy c1951 and was the forerunner to the Bencini Koroll S introduced in 1953 with a cold-shoe on the top as an added feature. Other models in the Koroll range differ significantly from the Koroll and Koroll S. CMF Bencini founded by Antonio Bencini in Milano, Italy, 1937 as I.C.A.F. shortly afterwards being renamed C.M.F. and after WWII renamed again to CMF Bencini. The company became renowned for their characteristic rigid body cameras but they also made folding cameras like the Argo.
Test Your Knowledge - Eastman Kodak
George Eastman founded the Kodak Company with the introduction of his first Kodak camera in the 19th century but can you remember when.
Film Stock Photography and Vintage Cameras
For more information on these and other vintage cameras, and showcase photography using old style film stock in post-production visit Proper Job Productions.
- Proper Job Productions
Multimedia Productions, Professional Photography and Videos Productions. Proper Job Productions specialising in Professional Photography and Video Productions for Gigs, Weddings and Special Occasions. Proper Job productions providing a professional s
- Proper Job Productions' photosets on Flickr
Flickr is almost certainly the best online photo management and sharing application in the world. Show off your favorite photos and videos to the world, securely and privately show content to your friends and family, or blog the photos and videos you
Oldie Style Movie
Bygone Years Challans 1910
A video I made from when we visited Challans, France on the day all the roads were blocked to traffic and the locals dressed in period costume of 1910 and turned the clock back 100 years to give a real feel for life in Challans 1910. I re-mastered the video in Post Production to give the atmosphere of an oldie style silent movie befitting for the period.
A Bygone Age
Life in Northern England in 1913
As with Challans, Beamish portrays life as it was in days gone by; except Beamish is a living museum and permanently open to the public most of the year. While on holiday to spend a couple of days at Beamish I made this video and befitting for the period make it in an old movie style in post-production.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2012 Arthur Russ
Share your knowledge on cameras and photography
Arthur Russ (author) from England on June 15, 2017:
Thanks to everyone for all your feedback and comments; which is greatly appreciated.
jayavi on March 19, 2013:
Very informative lens. Thanks for the information about old cameras. Appreciate your effort.
FancyThatUK on March 06, 2013:
I don't have much knowledge on vintage cameras, I just think they look so cool! My hubby is the photographer, but we use modern cameras
wrapitup4me on March 05, 2013:
I remember the brownie camera. I looked for my very first Nikon but you don't have it here. What a selection - make me smile.
anonymous on March 01, 2013:
Stopping back to smile for the camera...your large images make me feel like I can reach out and pick one up! :)
Carpenter76 on February 22, 2013:
What a difference when you look at the cameras today. Wow.
Deborah Swain from Rome, Italy on February 21, 2013:
Have just bought a Bencini Comet III and managed to track down some 127 film...Can't wait to start using it! Squid Blessed!
Malu Couttolenc on February 09, 2013:
I am fascinated about the history of photography and how it has developed throughout history. Thanks to the invention of photography we are able to see the world and our history. I had a great time reading this page about vintage cameras :)
Nnadi bonaventure Chima from Johanesburg on February 09, 2013:
Highly informative lens
Cara on February 07, 2013:
This is a lovely lens. I really enjoyed reading it.
Elaine Chen on January 31, 2013:
I show this lens to my son and he keeps on asking me why these cameras look odd; anyway, I like to see antique items; thanks for sharing
john9229 on January 29, 2013:
My grandfather have one of the antique camera. not function now :(
cmadden on January 29, 2013:
Pretty amazing looking through this lens; I don't remember my parents having any of these, but they must have, since there were old photos around. Very interesting lens.
SquidooPower on January 27, 2013:
DarrenVeronica on January 20, 2013:
This lens is great. There is a special place in my heart for vintage cameras, I love how they look and how they work :-)
savateuse on January 12, 2013:
Wow, a lot of work here! Blessed!
Joan Haines on December 05, 2012:
Old cameras are fascinating. I've made my own pinhole cameras and developed my own photos, which has helped me understand how simple and elegant the process can be.
Deadicated LM on November 04, 2012:
Great Lens, I love film cameras; they should never go away altogether. I have a Brownie 8mm movie camera and a 3D Realist camera that I'm interested in selling.
kopox on November 04, 2012:
very unique and so old cameras....
anonymous on November 04, 2012:
I look at these old cameras, and I think how amazing they must have been to the people who bought them when they were brand new. And probably cutting edge at that. Then I look over at my dSLR. We've come a long, long way since the first Kodak. Really nice lens.
ziijfurntiture1 on November 04, 2012:
This is very interesting lens about cameras
WriterJanis2 on November 04, 2012:
It's amazing how much technology has advanced when it comes to cameras. I really enjoyed the historic part of this lens.
Deborah Swain from Rome, Italy on October 26, 2012:
This is a STUNNING lens! I'm just getting into analogue photography again - I have some 1960s cameras - a Yashica MII and a couple of Olympus Trip 35s but nothing as vintage as these gorgeous cameras...WOW! What a collection!
anonymous on October 11, 2012:
Totally and a highly interesting post to read on this nice website.
Tonto Murray on October 04, 2012:
Cameras have come a long way. It is amazing how much power we have in our pockets with our smartphones now! Blessed.
anonymous on September 25, 2012:
As an interesting read, I recommend it to my lenses.
anooptu on September 21, 2012:
nice collection of vintage cameras....
barbiefashionistas on September 16, 2012:
I love these antique vintage cameras. Although not really to use for taking photos they make great design objects nowadays. A wonderful lens with awesome pictures.
alaiamax lm on September 14, 2012:
very interesting lens!
anonymous on September 13, 2012:
anonymous on September 13, 2012:
vinodkpillai lm on September 05, 2012:
These antique vintage cameras are a great way to understand how cameras and photography have developed over the years. Fascinating lens. Thanks for sharing!
KarenCookieJar on September 01, 2012:
I love the look of vintage cameras, I've always wanted to get one or two around the house just as decoration.
anonymous on August 26, 2012:
What a wonderful donation to receive all these cameras, you must have smiled for days! You've presented them beautifully...now, if there were only film available. Your Bygone videos are just excellent and so clear...love the music to take you back to the bygone days. Delightfully blessed.