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Antique Cameras

Camera antiques: the word photography is derived from Greek, meaning "light writing", and was first used in 1839, the year the Daguerreotype process was given to the world. The process was heralded by the use of the dark room box, or camera obscura, which was known for centuries. It was an imaginative work by De La Roche, called Giphantie, which prophetically referred to capturing images on canvas which had been coated by a sticky material, the mirror image remaining even after the canvas had dried. The chemistry to perform the photographic conversion had been known for hundreds of years, but nobody put the concept together until mid-1827 in France when an experimenter was able to harden a chemical substance upon an 8-hour exposure to light. This led to the success of Louis Daguerre who perfected his invention in 1839, which was called Daguerreotype. But Daguerre's process appeared six months after Englishman William Fox Talbot's Calotype process was presented to the Royal Society of London. The difference was that Daguerre, with French government support, made his invention free to the world and his process produced images that were far superior to Calotypes. 

It was in the year 1839,that photography took off as a hobby and business for the people of the world. Needless to say, this was the beginning of cameras, lenses, and steadily improving photographic equipment. With each new advancement, cameras transformed and evolved. In 1884, George Eastman developed his flexible film, following this up in 1888 with the introduction of the box camera. Everyone, including children could now participate in the growing and inexpensive art form. Ultimately, the new art and science paved the way to even more unimaginable inventions and enterprises, especially motion pictures.  

Camera collecting can be a lucrative investment or an enjoyable hobby. You won't often find an expensive antique camera at a garage sale or flea market. Perhaps, try estate sales and auctions for that truly exciting find. Just remember, that if value is what you are looking for, then condition is the most important feature. A 1950s Polaroid instant camera, may be more valuable than an 1890s box of scrap and metal that used to take pictures. Cameras come in many formats, and you'll have to decide if you want to expose film through one, as you will likely not find a supplier, depending upon the age of the item. Even modern 35mm cameras are being pressured by the technological advancements of the world of digital cameras. Watch out for units that were produced in quantity for the home market. Their true value may be considerably less than the asking price. You'll have to know your subject and establish a collecting gameplan, before you start spending large amounts of money. Your best investment may be books on antique cameras that will give you the knowledge you require.

Secondary products have also appeared in the collectible market. These include photo mugs and photo T-shirts, but the process is still primitive and the colors can fade if not carefully protected. In years to come, family heirlooms in this form could reach the same degree of interest as the daguerreotypes, especially if the original photograph is lost, or if the image is historically significant , like soldiers in uniform from the American Civil War, or if the subject is even a minor celebrity.  

Cameras have advanced significantly since the first crude machines were introduced, all the way up to the present with digital technology. Just keep in mind that yesterday's innovative technology will be tomorrow's antique, so don't throw away those old cameras.  There has also been a return to the quality of the analog image, so even those 35mm SLR has-beens of the 1970s have captured the attention of today's artists. 




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