Antique Camera on Tripod

Michele Wanke
Antique cameras on tripods are great to display.

An antique camera on tripod is a collector's item that many photographers would love to own.

About Antique Cameras

Long before there were digital cameras that could snap photos at lightening speed and fancy tripods made of futuristic materials, there was the antique camera on tripod. These old-fashioned photo tools were standard back in the early 1900s and featured a large format camera attached to a heavy wooden tripod.

Antique cameras mounted on tripods and sold as a set do not have the same capabilities as a modern day camera and tripod pair. Most antique camera/tripod sets, which have no ability to serve as functioning photo equipment, are used for decorative purposes.

The antique cameras attached to tripods that are used as decorations typically have unstable designs. The tripod's legs flex and slip, making them unsafe to use during a photo shoot. What's more, some antique tripods feature sharp points at the bottoms of the legs, which grab onto soft surfaces and are not desirable to use on carpets or rugs.

Where to Buy an Antique Camera on Tripod

Regardless of their age and limited function, antique cameras mounted on dated tripods are hot-ticket items for some photo collectors. The best place to get your hands on an old fashioned camera and tripod set is at an antique store or camera shop that carries vintage equipment. Another option is to visit estate sales and flea markets. Just be sure to inquire about the antique's authenticity before handing over your cash.

While antique dealers and vintage camera stores are viable options to secure an antique camera/tripod combo, one of the easiest places to shop for the collector's item is the Internet. The Internet is teeming with antique cameras and tripod sets. However, not all of the selections are authentic, so it's important to research your find before buying.

Internet Options

Some popular websites which sell antique cameras on tripods include:

  • HandHeldItems.com sells vintage brass box with wood tripod sets. This particular set features a 63-inch tall antique decorative camera with a dark finish wood tripod. The camera has a brass frame with glass lens and black canvas bellows. The camera is for decorative purposes only. As for the tripod, it is extremely heavy and can only accommodate a High Lander large format camera.
  • EBay is another excellent resource for vintage camera collectors. The site features a host of antique camera and tripod sets, including a 30-inch tall vintage box camera/tripod set. The decorative pair is a collector's item and features a 30 by 12-inch camera with a metal frame. Meanwhile, the tripod comes with a dark finish and is specially designed to support the large format camera.

Factors to Consider

Generally, antique camera on tripod sets are not sold as functioning pieces. However, with some slight modifications, you could get a vintage camera to rotate on a tripod in an effort to make it look as though it works. To accomplish this, simply place the camera on the tripod, attach the screw into the tripod mount of the camera, but don't tighten it down completely. Next, rotate the legs so that one of them faces directly away from you, and then tighten down the camera. You can now make small tilt adjustments by moving the front leg towards you or away from you.However, purchasing an antiquated tripod with the hopes of trying to use it for future photo shoots is a tricky proposition. For maximum strength and stability, most modern tripods are braced around a center post, with collapsible telescoping legs and a telescoping section at the top that can be raised or lowered. They also feature multiple joints and a handle, which allows the camera to pan and tilt. Unfortunately, older version tripods do not come with these updated features. Using an antique tripod on a modern day shoot could lead to frustration and poor photos.

Antique Camera on Tripod