Take just 10 minutes to browse through an antiques store, and you'll find hundreds of loose photos lying around ready to take you back in time. And the only thing that gets you close to that vintage aesthetic is the cameras that captured those moments. Old Kodak cameras are one stalwart in the camera collecting game, and there's enough of them available that you should be able to find the perfect model for you.
5 Valuable Old Kodak Camera Models to Collect
Since 1887, Kodak has made hundreds of cameras, and some of them have almost certainly made their way into your hands at some point. From the massive movie cameras that recorded our favorite old programs to the iconic red and yellow disposable camera, Kodak has quite the history. Coupled with their patented commercial film, Kodak is still a titan in the camera industry. So, it's no wonder that photographers would be all over these valuable pieces of the past.
|Vintage Kodak Cameras
|Recent Sales Prices
|Kodak No. 1
|Cine Kodak 16mm
|Kodak 2-D Large Format
|Kodak Retina IIIC Big C
Kodak No. 1: The First Kodak Camera
In 1888, Kodak introduced the Kodak No. 1. Advertised to the public with the slogan, "You press the button, we do the rest," this camera was aimed at amateur photographers. The black box hardly resembles the point-and-shoot cameras of our distant past. For $25, you could get one of these cameras loaded with 100 exposures. For another $10, you could ship it back to Kodak to get it reloaded and receive a set of 2½-inch prints of the photos you'd taken. Although it wasn't the most impressive camera on the market, people loved it because you didn't need to fuss around with a dark room yourself.
Very few Kodak No. 1s survive, making them incredibly valuable. In good condition, you can expect to find them selling for thousands of dollars. For example, this Kodak no. 1 with the original case listed on eBay for $3,500.
Cine Kodak 16mm Movie Camera
The Eastman Kodak Company had stiff competition throughout the 20th century with manufacturers like Canon, Hildebrand, Leica, and Polaroid putting up a good fight. But, where Kodak didn't surpass in instant-film like Polaroid or high-quality cameras like Hildebrand, they excelled in home movie cameras.
@vintagechronicles Cine Kodak Model K. #antique #vintage #fyp #foryoupage In The Mood - Glenn Miller
Although we think about camcorders as the start of the big home-movie craze in the 90s and 2000s, Kodak actually came out with the first 16mm home movie camera in 1923. This slim box looks nothing like our recording equipment today, but it does very well on the market. For example, this tripod-equipped Cine-Kodak from circa 1923 sold for $897.98 online.
Kodak 2-D Large Format Camera
Kodak didn't limit itself to just roll film cameras. They also produced large format cameras that used sheet film. One notable model was the Eastman Kodak 2-D, which was made of wood and complemented by brightly colored accents. These cameras came in a variety of sizes, including 5x7, 6.5x8.5, 7x11, and 8x10. And boy howdy, are these antique Kodak cameras worth a lot. Granted, they're not quite up there with the Kodak no. 1, but they do all right, sitting at around the $500 mark. For instance, this beautiful 8x10 example sold for $650 online.
Kodak Brownie Camera
Introduced in 1900, Kodak's Brownie camera is perhaps the one people recognize the most. Selling for just $1 in 1900, the first Kodak Brownie cameras made photography accessible to the masses. Over the years, Kodak has manufactured the Brownie model in both box and folding styles. Box cameras, like the Kodak No. 1, are simply a box with a lens, while folding cameras have a clasp that keeps the folded lens portion hidden in the body.
Earlier models can be quite valuable if you find them in good condition, and vintage cameras will do well if they're in working order. For example, this old untested box Brownie is a spectacular example of Art Deco design and sold for $210 on eBay.
Kodak Retina IIIC
Although Kodak's vintage cameras don't hold the same weight that Canons or Polaroids do, the Retina IIIC is the standout of the bunch. Debuting in 1954, this folding camera boasted a ton of new design features, including hidden bellows, quiet shutters, and incredibly slim sizes. But, if you've got your eye on one of these vintage Kodaks, make sure you hunt down the Big C model, because they come with a larger viewfinder and are the most valuable of the mid-century series. For example, this 1957 Retina IIIC Big C recently sold for nearly $200 online.
Things That Affect Vintage Kodak Camera Values
Finding a dusty camera is good and all, but knowing that it's old doesn't help you know how much it's worth. While buyer interest is always going to be a huge driving factor for camera sales, there are other things that can affect old Kodak camera values, as well.
Most Kodak cameras have the model number printed right on them, and you can use those model numbers to pinpoint exactly when your camera was manufactured. The older the date, the older the model, and the older the model, the more money it's going to be worth.
No matter what model you have, it's going to be more valuable if it's in good condition. For cosmetic condition, look for things like leatherette that isn't peeling and metal parts that aren't dirty or rusty. However, cosmetic condition can only raise a price so high. What'll really elevate it is the camera being in working condition. And unlike some antiques/vintage collectibles, being restored doesn't have a negative impact on the price. Rather, getting it into working condition will absolutely increase its worth.
When you're looking at an old Kodak camera, check for a few things that might be a concern about its condition first.
- In a folding camera, look at the condition of the bellows. You shouldn't find any holes or cracks.
- Try opening the film door. Does it open easily and close securely?
- Does the shutter work? Try firing a shot.
- If it has a lens, is the lens in good shape? Try shining a light through the lens to see if it has a lot of scratches, cloudy areas, or other flaws.
Before You Buy, Consider the Film You'll Need
Best-case scenario, you find the perfect vintage or antique Kodak camera to document your life with. If you're planning on getting an old Kodak for more than just display purposes, wait before you type in your credit card information and check and see what film you're going to need. If you're new to film cameras, the old models you're interested in might not take the common film you've stockpiled.
Originally, there were dozens of different film sizes, and Kodak made cameras to accommodate them all. But today, you can only find a few sizes of film for sale. The easiest to find are 35mm, 120, 4x5, 5x7, and 8x10. Here are a few combos you might encounter that use modern film, making them both more valuable and worth the investment.
- Kodak 35 - 35mm film
- Kodak #2 Hawkette Folder - 120 film
- Kodak Brownie Junior 120 - 120 film
- Kodak Masterview Camera - 4x5 and 8x10 film
- Eastman Kodak View Camera 2-D - 5x7 and 8x10 film
Kodak Offers a Valuable Snapshot of History
Whether you enjoy collecting cameras, learning about the history of photography, or simply looking at cameras from the past, old Kodak cameras are beautiful examples of where art meets design. Many of these cameras are available at antique stores, thrift shops, and online. Knowing what to look for can help you spot a camera that'll look gorgeous, function well, and be worth a pretty penny.