The vintage, the classic and the rare - Buying cameras at Auction

Vintage and antique cameras have stunning designs and a certain magic to both hold and use.  So typical are their design to the period that they were produced. Here is a brief synopsis of camera production from 1920s to present day.

 1920s cameras see the use of cameras becoming  more accessible to the general public, due to the demand and reduction in the cost of production.  Camera production moved away from heavy wood, and producers favoured metal casings.  Black paint, leather or leatherette covering were the design feature of this period giving them a rather austere look.

1930s saw the introduction of a new type of camera that was portable and easy to use.  The 35mm camera with chrome plated top plates and black covered became the new trend and influenced the design of cameras to modern day.

1940s Camera design somewhat delayed in the 1940s due to WWII, however the days of the folded camera are coming to an end, the 35mm view camera was the camera of choice during this period.

1950s Size and portability really was important in the 1950s, society required a small camera that was easy to use and good take good quality snapshots, the Kodak Brownie was the perfect example of a 1950s camera.

1960s By the 1960s, the 35mm camera dominated the commercial market and replaced most formats, colour film became the predominant photography medium, long gone were the days of black and white photography.

1970s to now The 1970s saw camera production rocket to news heights, new material were used and plastic became a strong force in camera casing and components. Automatic focus became very prevalent in the 1980s and generally cameras became a part of everyday life rather than a luxury.


Here at Fieldings our valuers and specialists deal with large consignments to single owner collections or even single cameras, basically we are happy to look at any camera and provide you with some advice on value.  Our specialists are not only on hand to help you with value and advice, they have a true passion and are collectors themselves.

So whether you are collector or potential buyer or a user of cameras there is so many options to choose from, Twin lens Reflex (TLR), 35mm rangefinder, medium format, Single lens reflex (SLR), folding, box, large format or even instant.   Buyers of cameras buy for their historical mechanics, special features, rarity or simply because they enjoy shooting with analog cameras.

Early primitive forms of cameras can be traced back 1000s of years, however the first camera with film went into production in 1888 and was produced by Kodak, a box camera called ‘The Kodak’.  Over 130 years later,  the development have cameras come along way, how the principles still firmly remain the same.

Collectors tend to collect by brand and age and of course, with ultimately there being a jewel in the crown for every manufacturer.  Most collected brands include Leica, Hasselblad, Voigtländer, Contax, Jaeger Le Coultre, Ilford, Ensign, Praktina, Canon, Nikon, Sony, Fuijifilm,  and Olympus.  There are so many brands available to buy and much depends on how deep a buyers’ pockets are and which you like the look of.


 If you are new to the world of camera collecting, then here are five simple steps to get you started

      Decide what type of camera you want to buy -   Much depends on what you will do with your camera, choose a brand you like.  You may not know yet, so please contact us and we can discuss the brands with you and help you decide which will work for you 


      Do your research - If you plan to use your camera, check you can still buy film, check there are no particular issues with that brand or model, if you plan to put you camera on a shelf and admire it, well, just research which is the prettiest.


      Check the condition before buying - There is no point buying a camera that you can’t use if you plan to be the next David Bailey, our advice, check the shutter isn’t stuck, check the lens isn’t scratched and of course check there is no mould or fugus inside. This is very important if functionality is important and you intend to use your camera.


     Trust who you buy from - There are many places to buy cameras from, reputable dealers, online auction platforms and auction.  Well that is simple, Fieldings have an enviable reputation and our valuers are here to talk you through any lots before you purchase, so why go anywhere else?!


For all advice or to consign to one of our sales please contact Mark or Rachel at 01384 444140 or







Posted on 13 October 2020 in: Auction life

News story

Meet our people

Louise Powell
Saleroom Assistant

Contact Louise

Be in the know

Sign up for auction email alerts so you never miss another sale at Fieldings!

Register now