Ebay camera 17


Ebay is selling a rare Chamonix 16×20 camera, the second largest film format.

16 x 20 inches, or 40x 50cm, is the film size for this spectacular camera and makes it a true giant with an area four times larger than the 10×8 format. Each negative has an area of 320 square inches – compare that to the 1.5 square inches of a 35mm negative. The film can be special-ordered once a year from Ilford.

16×20 inches was the size of the wet-plate glass emulsions used by the US survey photographers in the 1860s, Timothy O’Sullivan and others, so the camera definitely has a romance built into it.

Chamonix is a camera workshop in China, making specialized hand-crafted film cameras in large format sizes. The name is for a mountain area in alpine France alongside Mont Blanc, Europe’s highest mountain. The cameras are largely pitched at the landscape market.

We are a small workshop of eight experienced craftsmen and we are located in Haining city of Zhejiang Province, China. The company started a few years ago by a Chinese photographer and mountaineer.


The model for sale on ebay is a fold-up field camera made from timber and carbon fibre and weighs over 15kg or 34 pounds. That’s without lens, film holders and tripod, so if you do decide to buy this for your mountain photography, you might want to invest in a mule as well.


Ebay camera 15


This odd-looking creature is a stereo camera, adapted from the popular Exakta SLR. This Communist-bloc company produced cameras in Dresden from the 1930s until the reunification of Germany in the 1990s.

The chunky, techno styling of the Exakta started before World War 2 when it was apparently the first 35mm SLR. This c1955 stereo camera, the Stereflex, continues this design tradition. The front attachment forms two separate images on the 35mm film, and the eyepieces at the top allow the photographer to see a 3D image. It’s perfect for one of those wealthy camera collectors out there.

You can see the ebay sale here.


Ebay camera 14


Hurry. An Australian seller is offering a rare Leica camera on ebay for $38,000.

The camera is a iiG model, a variant of the successful iiiG line from the late 1950s of which only a few were made. Here’s what the seller says:

Camera body shows some signs of use but is overall in excellent cosmetic and working condition. Not tested with film. Shutter blinds in good condition. Vulcanite brittle through years of storage and has been repaired otherwise unrestored. Shutters speeds sound accurate and wind on smooth. Screw mount Elmar 50mm is included in this auction. Buyer pays all postage and insurance costs.

You would think they’d at least try it out with film. It must be a seller’s market. The international Leica community is aware of this sale and discuss it with great erudition:

“…there was in the Leitz Museum (marked as n.2238 in the Museum list) the Leica IlG prototype, the only original IIG camera known of which we can be 100% certain: also first serial number of “G”-type cameras – basically a Illg without selftimer and slowspeeds – SAME n.825001 (Lager Vol. I, p 165) of the Leica IIIG sold by Westlicht.”

It’s in very nice shape for a sixty year old, but personally, I’d be happy using a iiiG model, which reviewer Justin Webb describes as “like listening to Pavarotti singing Nessun Dorma, or savouring a 1963 Vintage Port.” You can get one of those models for 1/38th of this iiG, or alternately, buy 38 of them! Put another way, adding one lower case letter i saves you $37,000.

You can check on the sale and make your bid by clicking here.


Leica business?

$_57For Sale: one Leica repair business. Price: $195,000.

Ebay has posted an unusual ad: a complete repair business for Leica cameras. The European Camera Service was the authorized Leica service agent for the whole of Australia.

The business was established in 1991 by technician, Jorg Heumuller who was trained at Leica in Wetzlar, Germany. He was sent to Australia to establish a Leica service centre for repairs, routine service and warranty jobs.

The offer is for the whole shebang, as you can see in the photo: “a full range of current Leica special tools essential for working on Leica cameras of the period without damaging or marking the cameras. It is not feasible to list every single component – serious buyers may contact us to discuss the inventory and make an appointment to view the collection.”

This is the most unique ad I’ve ever seen on ebay. To see the details click here.


Ebay camera 13


This is the Mother of all TLR cameras!

The ebay ad tells the truth, since this camera is the legendary Gowlandflex, a 5×4 – large format – twin lens reflex! All other TLR cameras such as the Rolleiflex are medium format using 120 film to make 21/4 inch square negatives. This one is a giant. Its inventor, Peter Gowland, was well-known, and the camera did find a small market. There was even an 8×10 model version which stood almost three feet tall!

Advertisements for the unwieldy camera appeared in popular photography magazines around 1960, and 600 were sold. They are currently a collector’s item, one is owned by Annie Liebovitz. The website for the Gowlandflex shows different models and accessories, all of which are unique and original. It’s worth a look, since this is one of the most unusual camera stories of all.




This model was used by Gowland himself and had a mirror fixed to the front so the model could adjust her pose.


The story of its inventor is a strange one. Peter Gowland was a celebrity glamour and pinup photographer during the 1950s and 60s, always seen shooting on beaches with cheesy models. He was handsome and well-built in that Southern California way, and his high-wattage smile must have opened doors for him.

He was the son of actor Gibson Gowland who appeared in D.W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation and Intolerance, and starred as the villain McTeague in Erich von Stroheim‘s 1924 masterpiece Greed. He was not a star, but you wouldn’t mind if it meant having those titles on your CV. His son Peter also appeared in several major films, including, unbelievably, Citizen Kane. Who could make this up?


Peter Gowland with his wife and business partner Alice Adams.



Ebay camera 12


Sony ProMavica MVC-5000 camera

This formidable weapon is one of the earliest digital cameras to be put on the market. It’s a Sony ProMavica MVC-5000, released in 1989. It’s not really a “digital” camera, since the image is not recorded in pixel photosites, it’s really a “still-video” camera because the recorded image is magnetic like on video tape.

“The images were captured on the disk by using two CCD (charge-coupled device) chips.  One chip stored luminance information, and the other separately recorded the chrominance information. The images could be stored on the floppy disk either in Frame or Field mode. When Frame was selected, each picture was recorded on two tracks and up to 25 images could be recorded on each disk. When Field was selected, each picture was recorded on only one track, allowing up to 50 images to be recorded.” (http://www.digicamhistory.com/1989.html)

The camera sold for $10,000 – about $20,000 in today’s money. That should buy a lot of camera, yet its 2-inch floppy disc stored images of only 720,000-pixels. That’s less than one megabyte! Despite that the camera was often used by the press as images could be sent internationally over phone lines – this is before the internet. Click here for a history of digital camera technology.

The camera no longer costs $10,000. It can be yours for only a few hundred dollars here on ebay.

Ebay camera 11


A rare early Leica model B is being auctioned on ebay, bids start at $36,500. The camera was made in 1928 and is thus a fossil from the early years of 35mm still photography.

Compare it to the giant Anthony Climax camera from my other ebay post, where the studio stand also dates from 1928. You can see from this contrast the revolution that was happening in photography. The Anthony would require strong men to move it, the Leica fits in the palm of your hand.

It’s an impressive technical gadget, a boffin’s camera. Industrial design had not yet arrived at Leica; later designs where smoother and more ergonomic, sleek accessories for the well off. This one is a naked machine, it’s functioning parts indecently exposed.

No provenance is mentioned on ebay but you can imagine an intrepid photo-journalist using it in the early days of the picture magazines. Certainly the camera has not been sitting on a shelf all its long life, it has plenty of signs of use.  Oddly, in the case of Leica, that only increases its romance and hence its value, a measure of how mythic these cameras have become.