Check out some classic cameras that are likely older than you

I meant to post these last month after my mom came to visit, but I forgot. Oh well.

We went over to Valley City to do some antiquing in the many fine shops they have in their downtown. I was looking for typewriters and cameras while my mom was looking for knickknacks and furniture.

My luck was strong and I discovered several very interesting cameras. Both lacked any sort of focusing method as we know them today. Instead, the operator had to measure the distance to the subject and adjust the lens accordingly.

Here are some photos of two.

This first one is a Zeiss 6×9 cm camera that I almost bought and now that I think of it, maybe I should drive over and get it. It would make a great landscape camera. Here’s a closeup of the lens:

Then there’s this next one, and it’s massive:

This camera creates pictures that are about 4 inches by 5 inches or bigger, only it uses rollfilm. I don’t think film has been available for this beast in my own lifetime, really.

I was really intrigued by the simplistic exposure controls. Instead of the usual apertures , it listed different lighting situations like indoors, outdoors, sunny, cloudy, etc. And see that object in the upper right-hand corner? That’s the viewfinder. I was really impressed that it rotated back and forth so it could be used for horizontal or vertical pictures.

These machines are fascinating to me. They show how these tasks were accomplished back before photography got to be so easy. It seems somewhat odd even that I took photos of these incredible devices while using my tiny digital camera.

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One Response to Check out some classic cameras that are likely older than you

  1. Chief Sleepy Eye says:

    Somewhere around I have a very old 4×5 format camera that uses glass plate negatives and believe it or not it still works. Back in the 60’s Poloroid made a Poloroid film adapter for it that allowed use of Poloroid instant negative (like film only a negative) with it. Last time I had any “negative” film for it, it worked just fine. It is pretty cool because the bellows on it can be adjust right/left and up/down and the angle between the lens and the film can be changed. Hmm…I wonder where I put that camera?