Vintage Photography Tools That Stand the Test of Time

At the studio, we buy and sell a lot of gently used camera and production equipment for our various projects. We have a ‘buy it for life’ mentality and have found that the newest gear doesn’t always yield the best results when it comes to studio equipment so we wanted to share some of our favorite finds that are worth investing in and there’s still a booming used market for online.

Screengrab grid of gently used cameras available for sale online

We adore these older, well-loved, cameras and there are still so many available to pick up analog photography - there’s also more resources for analog photography than there has been for 20ish years - Polaroid and Fujifilm have a loyal customer base keeping the medium alive.

In this post, we are linking to products with affiliate URLs and all the proceeds from this blog go back into the studio so we can keep working on fun stories and provide reviews like this one.


Vintage Sunpak Flashes

Overhead view of a Sunpak auto 544 portable flash unit on a white round table
via Westborn Camera Company Outlet's eBay storefront


Discover the timeless excellence of Vintage Sunpak flashes! These gems from a pre-digital era boast robust mechanical design and are powered by easily replaceable/rechargable batteries and are easy to repair since there are no proprietary integrated circuit logic chips in these flashes (if they ever break! We’ve been using and growing our Sunpak collection for almost 15 years). In a recent head-to-head, the Sunpak 622 not only held its own but outperformed the modern ProPhoto B2 at a fraction of the cost. Vintage Sunpak flashes are a testament to the enduring quality and value of great vintage gear - invest in solid vintage gear and take good care of it, it’s just as good if not better than some modern digital photography equipment.


Canon FD Macro 1:1 Lenses

Vintage 1:1 Canon FD Macro lens on white backdrop
via Service Photos's eBay storefront


Modern Macro lenses are great for modern photography needs of large institutions i.e. focus-stacking for live subjects, insects or flowers, but these lenses come at a high price point and often sit unused in most photographer’s camera bags.

However, Vintage macro lenses without any internal electronics are perfect for scanning negatives. For our camera system, we use a 100mm f/4 lens with an Urth FD-RF adapter (link) paired with a 3D printed negative scanning system from designed by MP120PC that we printed in house and custom laser-cut the acrylic at the LAPL’s Octavia Lab.

If we ever need the modern macro lens for our commercial work, we’ll invest, but we haven’t needed it yet for our reference and archival photo work - if anything the analog lens allows us to slow down and get better results.


Canon Rebel Film Cameras

Canon EOS Rebel S II 35mm Camera
via pugsleysbasement's eBay storefront


These cameras are great because they can use modern standard Canon-EF mount lenses and can will yield stellar results with modern digital choices for folks exploring film. We’ve been pairing our 1999 Rebel with the Cinestill 800. It’s such a lovely blend of old and new.


Polaroid SX-70

Polaroid SX-70 instant film camera, manufactured in the 70s, on a white plain backdrop
via Foto-Sandor's eBay storefront


Experience the magic of instant photography with the Polaroid SX-70. Our studio treasures an SX-70 from Audrey’s childhood, it’s been a workhorse since their grandfather purchased it for their business sometime in the 1970s. The camera is compatible with the relaunched SX-70 film by Polaroid (formerly the Impossible Project). These cameras continue to captivate photographers with their unique charm and instant memory-making gratification. It’s such a treat to have an instant glossy print you can pocket minutes after making the photo.


Vintage Hot Lights

Vintage Sylvania Sun Gun Movie Camera Light
Vintage Sylvania Sun Gun Movie Light with Box
via The Stair's eBay storefront
via hobbyandhomeshop's eBay storefront


Add a touch of vintage charm to your lighting with classic hot lights. While modern LED panels are an affordable choice for beginners, vintage continuous lights offer a unique character and warmth that can better help you visualize your lights without flashes and it adds a cinematic feel to all of the work you create with these relics of filmmaking.


Novelty Cameras

CocaCola film cameras for resale
Fry Cam French Fries Camera Toy Novelty
via YOUR CAMERA JAPAN's eBay storefront
via suncoastsundries's eBay storefront


If you’re looking for a fun conversation starter at a gathering while you’re making photos, there are so many fabulous vintage novelty and promotional cameras available that still work, or have never even been opened!


That's a wrap on this glimpse into the past with vintage photography gear! These old camera tools are more than just things to take pictures with; they're like storytellers, it’s a way to see how media was made accessible to the masses in age before the Internet.

All of these classic treasures and fun finds can help you make your own awesome photos. Share your favorite vintage camera find in the comment box below and be sure to check out our catalog of tools for photographers!

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