There are many collectors of various types of vintage items. Clothing, art, and books are just a few examples of collections many vintage collectors seek out. Owning something vintage is like owning a piece of history. Many collectors choose to seek out vintage items because many find the hunt for a difficult to find the vintage piece is a challenge rewarding.
Vintage cameras are one such example, and many models were manufactured such a long time ago and in so few numbers, they can be both difficult to hunt down, and very costly.
Maybe you’ve found yourself in possession of an old family camera, or maybe you’re a collector looking to grow your collection. Either way, vintage and film cameras are exciting finds. And, as it turns out, some of these cameras can be worth quite a bit of money.
Curious to know how much one of your newfound vintage cameras is worth? Or trying to get an idea of much it will cost you to complete your vintage camera collection? In this article, we’ve collected the top 5 most valuable vintage cameras.
Leica 0 Prototype 1
This camera was manufactured from 1923 to 1924. Only 31 of these cameras were manufactured, making them incredibly rare. The Leica 0 Prototype 1 is a camera designed and manufactured by well-known camera company Leica.
This particular model was the first camera Ernst Leitz, founder of Leica, ever made, leaving out the Ur-Leica model. Because there are so few of these cameras in existence, there are in turn not many sales. In 2018, however, one of these cameras was sold in an auction in Vienna for €2.4 million.
The Nikon I was the first camera manufactured by the renowned optics company Nikon. Originally formed in Japan, Nikon released the Nikon I in 1948. By 1950, American photographers had taken note of the lens on the Nikon I, the Nikkor-P.C 1:2 f=8.5cm.
In 2018, an eBay seller had a Nikon I camera listed for $27,455 less than 1,000 of these cameras were manufactured, so getting hold of one of these models is getting hold of a brief, but important piece of Nikon’s history.
The Daguerreotype was the first photographic process every to be made available to the public. It was invented by Louis Daguerre in the year 1839 and used during the 1840s and 1850s. A new photographic process was introduced in 1860, which took over the Daguerreotype process. There was, however, a small resurgence of the method during the late 20th century by photographers interested in Daguerreotype as an art form.
The Susse Frères was a manufacturing company in Paris, France. They were the manufacturers of one of the first 2 cameras that used the Daguerreotype method.
Leica M3 Prototype
Leica was such a prolific manufacturer of cameras that it only makes sense they appear on this list more than once. The Leica M3 Prototype was a camera manufactured during 1952-53. To Leica’s credit, owners of this same camera today say that their cameras are still in perfect working order. Unfortunately, only 65 of these cameras were made, making them difficult to get a hold of.
While it is difficult to get your hands on one of these rare Leica cameras, every once in a while, one does get listed online or at an auction. In 2008, a Leica M3 Prototype was sold from one collector to another for $38,000.
Nikon F3 NASA 250
The other optics manufacturing giant Nikon, like Leica, has such a longstanding history of making quality and sought-after cameras that it too has to be featured on this list more than one. The Nikon F3 NASA 250 was a camera manufactured specifically manufactured for NASA’s use. Yes, that NASA!
NASA’s collaboration with Nikon produced the Nikon F3. There were two versions, a large one and a small one.
Constructed in the 1980s, only 17 to 19 cameras of this model were constructed, making them incredibly rare and difficult to come by. The last known sale of one of these cameras was in 2013. The camera went for $158,517. However, in 2010 a sale of the body of this model went for an even higher price, at $247,632.
As an art form, photography has grown in popularity since its very inception. Today, it’s easier than ever to take a picture, and most of us carry tiny cameras around with us in our pockets every day. There’s something to say for an old-fashioned film camera, though, and cameras like the Susse Frères Daguerreotype tell us a lot about the history of photography.
While there are many rare cameras out there the 5 listed in this article are some of the rarest, and most of them define important moments in the history of photography.