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.




Ebay camera 10



Ebay is offering an extraordinary camera, the Anthony CLIMAX Portrait Ultra Large Format Studio Camera. The name CLIMAX seems appropriate.

According to the blurb, the camera was made in the late 1800s by the E & HT Anthony and Co of New York. The stand is from a different source, the Folmer Graflex company, makers of the legendary Speed Graphic press camera. It’s dated 1928.

You can order 11×14 film from Ilford so the camera is still useable. What a project it would be to take portraits with this piece of photographic artillery. Trouble is, it will set you back $13000. And that doesn’t include shipping.


Ebay camera 9


Here’s a unique camera from the 1950s. The Tessina was manufactured in Switzerland from 1957 until the 1990s. The camera used 35mm film cut and reloaded into special cassettes. Each frame was 14x21mm, about one third of a full-frame 35mm.

It’s a twin-lens reflex, just like a Mamiya or Rolleiflex, but only a couple of inches in size. It’s so small it could fit on your wrist, and there was even a special wrist strap accessory. Presumably you covered it with your sleeve and only raised it to your eye when ready to shoot. Shades of Dick Tracy.

You looked down onto the tiny ground glass, or use the eye-level finder. Because the lens image is reflected onto the film via a mirror you have to print the negative through the back.

Are you getting the picture that this is a strange little camera? There is even a rumour that one of the Watergate ‘plumbers’ was arrested with a Tessina, so this tiny camera may have contributed to the fall of US president Richard Nixon.

You can check the Tessina on ebay. There are eight for sale at the moment.


Ebay camera no. 8


Deardorff Commercial Series Camera Stand and 11X14 Camera

Ebay has a very unusual package for sale, an ultra large format studio camera with its own studio stand. The seller says the system was the workhorse camera for the Sears and Roebuck catalog company in Chicago. That’s where Deardorff cameras were made, and made to last. The price is $3640, apparently without a lens, but still a bargain. Unfortunately it’s too heavy and cumbersome for the seller to pack and ship so if you really want it, you’ll need to pick it up from Kansas. That’s a long trip, but a set up like this could change your life!


Ebay camera 7


Pocket Kodak, 1896

On the day that Kodak sells it film manufacturing business, it seems appropriate to commemorate big yellow’s dawn in the late 19th century.

Here is an object on Ebay from the early history of popular photography, an 1896 Kodak. The term ‘Box Brownie’ is fixed in the cultural memory, the name Kodak gave their range of amateur home cameras that started in 1888.

This Pocket Kodak is small, only 7 x 10 x 6 cm in size. It’s for a largish pocket, but a pocket nonetheless. When you consider that only about 15 years before, the dominant form of photography was Wet Plate with it’s large sheets of glass and toxic chemicals, a pocket camera is an amazing idea. Kodak’s genius then was in taming photography, making it convenient and simple.

Kodak box cameras had features that are unusual to us: the lens is behind the shutter, and you pulled a string to cock the shutter. But this model inaugurated one long-lasting feature, the red safety window for when you’re winding the film. Young photographers today know that invention from their Lomo Dianas and Holgas.

The lens is an f10, 65 mm focal length. The camera took 12 exposures on 1½ x 2 inch (3.7 x 5) cm exposures on paper backed roll-film. This is much smaller than current roll film, between 35mm and 120 format. It’s a different format from the original Brownies that held 100 exposures and had to be sent to the factory for re-loading. kodaksefke.nl has some examples.

It must have been OK for it’s time because Kodak made almost 150,000 of them, at $5.00 retail. I don’t know if it helps but in 1913, $5.00 was worth $117.00 of today’s dollars. But this one is going for $300 on Ebay. That’s inflation.

pocket kodak

from http://www.kodaksefke.nl/pocket-kodak.html


Ebay camera no. 6


This important-looking device is a Cirkut Camera made in the first half of the 20th century by the Folmer & Schwing company. Cirkut cameras have a special place in the history because they rotated on the tripod and took a panorama of up to 360˚. Inside was a wind-up motor that turned the camera on its axis while pulling the film past a slit. There are currently two Cirkut cameras on ebay.

The camera stands six feet tall on the original mahogany and brass tripod. The film came in long rolls of sheet film, like 10×8 inch film but several feet long. That’s a lot of film. No enlarger could blow up a two metre long negative so they had to be contact-printed, hence the large film format. you can still get that film by special order from Ilford, so the cameras are viable even today.



EO Goldbeck is probably the best known user of the Cirkut. He had a long and successful career as a commercial photographer in Texas.


This is the New York Yankees when they played in San Antonio in 1922; that huge man in the middle is Babe Ruth.


This video demonstration by Richard Malogorski shows you how it all works.


Ebay camera no.5


This ugly duckling is an Ernemann Ermanox camera, manufactured from 1924. It has an f2 lens, huge for its day, and there was even an f1.8 version. The Ermanox, along with the Leica, revolutionized candid photography in the 1920s, but the Ermanox lens, two stops faster than the Leica, permitted low light shooting with relatively fast shutter speeds.

The film format was 6×4.5 cm, familiar in more recent times from the Mamiya 645 cameras so popular with wedding photographers. But that was with 120 roll film, and the Ermanox used cut film, you had film holders with single shots, not a roll of film with 16 shots.

Its extreme compactness and light-gathering power meant that photojournalists could use it discretely and without a tripod. One such was Erich Salomon, famous for his semi-secret photos of politicians at meetings. Salomon would dress up and look well-groomed – see the portrait below – and he would not be noticed in a room of high-ranking diplomats (despite that strange staring expression). Then, without fuss, he would take his revealing photos of the powerful people of Europe in their smoke-filled salons. It was a first and the newspapers snatched them up.

In the long run though, it didn’t help him. After years in the company of the high and mighty, he ended up in Auschwitz where they killed him in 1944.

For $3200, you can own an Ermanox and take photos like Erich Salomon. Find it here on ebay.


Erich Salomon with his Ermanox.

Salomon Mussolini

Erich Salomon photo. Mussolini on the left talking with a delegation of German diplomats in 1931.

on ebay

Ebay camera no.4


The serial number of this Leica 250 Reporter indicates it was made in 1942-43. Is that significant to you? Well, it was smack in the middle of World War Two, and this is a German camera! It would be fascinating to see its provenance, who owned it and what they used it for.

The website pacificrimcamera.com states that production ceased in 1942. That would place it near the end of the run of about 1000 units. It’s a rarity, and it will be interesting to see what it goes for on ebay.

My Leica General Catalogue for 1936 states that the ‘250’ as it was then called was priced at £47.16.6. That’s with the standard 50mm f3.5 Elmar lens. It was about £7,350.00 in today’s money, or AU$11,150 (according to measuringworth.com). Cheap by today’s prices.



Page from Leica General Catalogue for 1936


The case alone is worth the price!



Ebay camera no.3


The description on ebay states that the Petie Vanity camera was “housed inside a ladies powder compact case” which of course means it’s a camera that doubles as a make-up kit. Those metal tubes are not for film, but lipstick. It gives a new meaning to the term ‘compact camera’. The Petie is almost a James Bond gadget and was it was made in West Germany during the Cold War. I guess that makes sense – my father’s name for make-up was “war paint”.

The Petie was a mid-fifties product, not thirties Art Deco as it first looks. The camera side was very basic with a fixed 1/50th shutter speed and fixed aperture. Focus was also fixed, so it’s really a toy, and the 17.5mm film format didn’t help with picture quality. This format was 35mm film split down the middle and backed with paper like 120 film. This is definitely a strange story.

It was not the only Petie made either, there were many different cameras under that badge, including a cigarette lighter version and a music box version, it’s a real class act. You can see more about the Petie on www.submin but you can buy it on ebay for $2500.




Ebay camera no. 2


When its lens is extended this very old Minolta camera looks like a pagoda. How Japanese. Made from 1934 into the 1940s it was labelled at different times the Vest and the Best. It used 127 film which is discontinued, so it can’t be used, but it would make a nice conversation piece, along with ‘holey Rollei’ from the previous post.

Its period of manufacture coincides with the rise of nationalism and imperialism in Japan which culminated in the invasions of East Asia and the Second World War, so it’s interesting to speculate on the pagoda shape being a jingoistic gesture. Despite that, it’s a lovely Art Deco object and at $109, an affordable luxury.

You can see the camera for sale on ebay, and Camerapedia has a detailed description.

Minolta Vest

Minolta Best/Vest advertisement from c.1935


Ebay camera #1


A new series for this blog, weird and interesting cameras found on Ebay.

This is one starts it off with a bang, literally. The camera has been shot, a neat reversal of what a camera normally does. The seller has no idea how it happened, but you could write a short story around it if you wanted to.

The seller calls it a holey Rollei, and describes its condition as ‘perforated’. You can see for yourself at www.ebay.com/itm/Holey-Rollei-35