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  • 10 Expensive Cameras You've (Probably) Never Heard Of

    McKeown's Camera Guide Book

    We have a couple editions of the McKeown's Price Guide to Antique & Classic Cameras kicking around the store, and besides using it as a reference for our sales of used, antique and classic cameras, we also use this guide for sheer entertainment. That's right, we like to cuddle up with this 6+ lbs. book, have a cup of hot chocolate, and be humbled by the listings of all the cameras we never realized existed. On one recent session of R&R with McKeown's I was blown away by some of the prices for cameras I never knew existed. I thought it might be interesting to share those here:


    1. Air King Camera Radio. A camera and a radio, all-in-one! McKeown's estimates $250-350.

    Air King Camera Radio

    McKeown's description:
    The perfect marriage of a brown, green, or red pseudo-reptile-skin covered tube radio and concealed novelty camera for 828 film.

    2. Bermpohl Naturfarbenkamera. McKeown's estimates $1000-2500.

    Bermpohl Naturfarbenkamera

    McKeown's description:
    c1933. Introduced as "Einbelichtung-Dreifarben-Kamera", meaning single-exposure three-color camera. A beautifully constructed teakwood beam-splitting tri-color camera made in 9x12cm, 13x18cm (5x7"), and 18x24cm sizes. Normally seen without a viewfinder, but a parallax-correcting reflex viewfinder was an optional accessory. Its case-metal frame attaches to the front and the top of the camera. Production was interrupted during the WWII, but resumed in 1947. These appear infrequently on the market, and are of interest to a limited number of collectors, so prices vary widely.

    3. Ernemann Bob (round), or sometimes referred to as Spy, Camera. McKeown's estimates value of $1700-2400. This site references one sold in 2010 for $4440.

    Ernemann Bob (round) Camera

    McKeown's description:
    1900-1903. Cylindrical paperboard camera for 4.5x6cm plates. Five plates change position by rotating inner cylinder. Rare.

    4. Ford's Tom Thumb Camera. "Spy" type camera housed in a wooden case. McKeown's estimates value of $4500-6500.

    Ford's Tom Thumb Camera

    McKeown's description:
    c1889. Similar body style to the Photosphere camera. All metal. Camera is concealed in a wooden carrying case for "detective" exposures. Later models are called the Tom Thumb camera, dropping Ford's name.

    5. Bentzin Record-Primar. McKeown's estimates value of $5800.

    Bentzin Record Primar

    McKeown's description:
    c1927-37. Rare non-folding version of the 6.5x9cm [Bentzin]  Fokal-Primar with a fixed Meyer Kino-Plasmat f1.5/9cm lens. This lens covers 4x6cm fully open and 6x9cm closed down. Also sold as Roth Primar Focal Plane Camera by A.O. Roth in Great Britain.

    6. Houghton Ticka, focal plane model. Watch-style camera! McKeown's estimates value of $5,000-$9,000.

    Houghton Ticka Focal Plane Model

    McKeown's description:
    [Pocket-watch-style camera] with focusing lens. Rare. Exposed works make it easy to identify.

    7. Bertsch Chambre Automatique. McKeown's estimates value of $6,000-$10,000.

    Bertsch Chambre Automatique

    McKeown's description:
    c1860. A small brass box camera with fixed-focus brass barrel lens, and a permanently attached wooden plateholder designed for 2 1/2 x 2 1/2" wet plates. The camera case also housed the equipment and chemicals to prepare and develop plates in the field, while an outer case served as a darkroom.

    8. Alibert Kauffer Photo-Sac a Main, handbag camera. A camera in a purse! McKeown's estimates value of $10,000-$15,000.

    Alibert Kauffer Photo-Sac a Main Handbag Camera

    McKeown's description:
    c1895. Folding plate camera disguised as a handbag. Several models were made. One is styled like a square-cornered case which hinges from the middle and a strut-supported front extends. A similar model used the strut-supported front but in a smartly-styled handbag with a split front door hinged at the top and bottom. The other variation has the handbag shape but uses the bottom door as a bed to support the lens standard. Designed by Bernard Kauffer of Paris. About six examples known to exist.

    9. Hegelein Watch Camera. McKeown's estimates value of $30,000-$40,000. This site references one sold in 2011 for $136,320.

    Hegelein Watch Camera

    McKeown's description:
    c1895. Subminiature camera built into a pocket watch case. Seven section metal tube extends forward. Plateholders fit on back. Design is similar to the Lancaster watch camera from England. The Hegelein camera was marketed by E. & H. T. Anthony as "Anthony's Watch Camera".

    10. Geymet & Alker Jumelle de Nicour. A camera on binoculars, all-in-one! McKeown's estimates value of $50,000.

    Geymet & Alker Jumelle de Nicour

    McKeown's description:
    c1867. An early binocular-styled camera for 50 exposures on 1 1/4 x 1 1/4" plates. A large cylindrical magazine contained the 50 plates, which were loaded and unloaded from the camera for each exposure by gravity. (Rather like a modern slide tray.) Rare.

    Do you know any rare or not well-known cameras you'd like to share?

  • Who buys used cameras?

    Where to sell used camera gear?

    If you are wondering where to sell your used camera gear, we have an easy answer: us. We are constantly looking for good used equipment. A core part of our business is buying and selling used gear, and we purchase camera equipment every day. Our customers find we can provide them with a good value, and a safe and secure transaction. Sure, you can get a little more for your camera gear by piecing it out individually and selling it yourself, but it can be a lot of work, and unfortunately there are a lot of people who are less than honest on the internet.  We are interested in purchasing all of your equipment--from the very special to what others might consider mundane. This is good for you, because you can get rid of your equipment quickly and easily, and all at once. Plus, we are a trusted, established business with a great BBB (Better Business Bureau) track record. At any one time we carry hundreds of pieces of used gear, and literally sell hundreds of used items every month all over the world, which is a testimonial to the trust and value our customers place in doing business with us. More than used camera equipment, we carry a huge inventory of new camera gear. If you are looking to upgrade, we can give you a better deal for your used camera equipment if you are looking to trade with us.

    So, you have used camera gear you are looking to sell or trade, what next? We have found that the best place to start is to make a list of your used camera gear, and send it over to us via e-mail to For more detailed instructions, please visit our dedicated page on our website here. You can also submit a list of up to five items via an online form on the same page, too. Once we have your list, we can mull it over and provide you with a ballpark estimate of what we can offer you for purchase or trade. When you see the estimate, and find that it is good, from there we just need to get your equipment in our hands. Then we simply confirm the cosmetic and mechanical condition of every piece and provide you with a final offer. Once you accept the offer, we cut you a check, or issue you store credit immediately. We want you to feel comfortable and good about your decision and the whole process, so if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call us at (802) 244-0883 x203 to speak with a dedicated specialist.

    Are you looking to buy used cameras, lenses, or accessories? Please visit our dedicated website at The inventory is constantly changing there, so please bookmark the website and comeback frequently!

  • Photography, 160 Years Ago: A Really Old Voigtlander Lens

    Voightlander & John in Wien - Brass Lens

    What was Photography 160 years ago?

    Well, for starters, there was no standardized film. George Eastman was not even born yet. We were 70+ years away from seeing companies like Nikon. There were, however, a couple names that may sound familiar: Zeiss and Voigtlander. These two companies are two of the oldest optical manufacturers in existence. Many of their products were not for photographic purposes back then.

    Voightlander & John in Wien - Brass Lens

    Green Mountain Camera has once again unearthed a gem of photographic history, dating back to 1847.  It is a “Voigtlander & Sohn in Wien” Brass lens, serial number 2761, which places it among one of the earliest photographic lenses in existence. This lens was made in Vienna, Austria and is considered a “Petzval” type Portrait lens.

    A "Petzval" type lens is named after Joseph Petzval, who came up with the design of this lens type around 1840. A Professor of Mathematics at Vienna University, he was the first to design a lens with good center sharpness and an extremely fast maximum aperture (f/3.6, which was unheard of at the time). This lens design trumped the then standard design of Charles Chevalier, who designed a lens with a maximum aperture of only f/5.6, and the lens was relatively unsharp. To his credit, Chevalier greatly improved on the lenses that came before him, which were extremely slow--f/17 or slower. Chevalier was really the first individual to make Portraiture accessible to the new process of Photography. With the then current chemical processes and extremely slow lenses, an exposure time of 10 minutes in bright sunlight was not unusual. This was OK if you wanted to take a picture of a landscape, relax and have a cocktail, but for portraits, it made life very difficult.

    With the advent of Petzval's lens design, which had a maximum aperture as large as f/3.6, Portraiture truly began to blossom. In fact, commercial photography was thus born, and photographers took advantage of it by being paid to take portraits. Petzval's lens was therefore an instant and widely accepted success. Unfortunately for him, a patent was never acquired and the lens was quickly copied the world over. At the time, and to their advantage, Voigtlander and Sons was working closely with Joseph Petzval, and were the first to manufacture the new lens design. The success of the Petzval lens design meant instant success for Voigtlander too, and they were quickly regarded as the manufacturer of the finest lenses.

    This Voigtlander lens was used for two types of cameras: Daguerreotype and Wet-Plate. Daguerre announced his process to the world on August 19, 1839, and this is the date most often associated with the beginning of photography. Daguerreotype cameras used copper plates coated in silver. Exposures took several minutes and the plates were costly. Wet-Plate cameras used a glass or tin plate. Exposure times were shortened to just a couple of seconds and the cost was dramatically less.

    To understand how special our lens is, you have to reflect a little while on how important photography is today, and how it changed the world back in 1839. Then think of how short 8 years truly is in the grand scheme of things, and then place this lens, No. 2761, right there in the center of it all.

    Voightlander & John in Wien - Brass Lens

    And then, the mysteries and fables pour out of this short brass barrel.  I can’t help but wonder, looking through a piece of glass that has been around for more than 1 and a half centuries, what sort of images this lens may have captured…

    A cityscape of Paris, before the Eiffel Tower was built…

    A portrait of Abraham Lincoln...

    The construction of the Statue of Liberty…

    There is one thing we do know:

    A lot has happened since 1847.

    Voightlander & John in Wien - Brass LensVoightlander & John in Wien - Brass Lens
    Voightlander & John in Wien - Brass Lens

    Visit to see all of our antique and classic photographic equipment for sale.

    For more information on this lens and other antiques contact Jay at 

  • The "Akeley" 35mm Motion Picture Camera: No. 158

    Carl Akeley (1864-1926) was a taxidermist, sculptor, explorer and inventor. This man of many talents is known for several firsts. He revolutionized the art of taxidermy by utilizing clay molds instead of stuffing with hay. Akeley also invented the cement spray gun as well as a powerful searchlight that was used by the United States Army during the first World War.

    Akeley 35mm Motion Picture Camera

    Carl Akeley had a deep passion for the natural world and the animals that inhabit it.  He traveled to Africa on several occasions to collect specimens for the American Museum of Natural History. In 1909, Akeley joined President Theodore Roosevelt on a trip to Africa, which was documented in the Cherry Kearton feature “With Roosevelt in Africa” (1910).

    Akeley 35mm Motion Picture Camera Akeley 35mm Motion Picture Camera

    We learned of Carl Akeley through a recent purchase. Carl’s contribution to the Motion Picture industry was the “Akeley” 35mm Motion Picture camera. This hand-crank camera looks nothing like the other cameras of its day. The “Akeley” was developed as a field camera and became the standard for many naturalists in the 1920’s through the 1940’s. The camera was most notably used for Robert Flaherty's “Nanook of the North' (1922). The cameras bizarre design gave it unique capabilities. The body featured a built-in tripod head allowing for smooth pan-tilt motions (unfortunately our camera does not have this intact). The shutter mechanism was the camera's real “claim-to-fame”. The rotary design of the body gave room for the shutter to travel all the way around its circumference.

    Akeley 35mm Motion Picture Camera

    Why is that so unique? Well, as a result, the shutter angle was 230 degrees. Standard “box style” motion picture cameras had a 180 degree shutter, or less. The design of the standard motion picture camera shutter is illustrated below. A small, half circle disc rotated in front of the film plane, exposing the film plane for half the rotation.

    Standard 180 Degree Shutter Angle Standard 180 Degree Shutter Angle

    So in terms of shutter speeds, the math is pretty simple. A camera shooting 30 frames per second (30 revolutions per second) has an equivalent shutter speed of 1/60th of a second. The result of having 50 degrees more shutter is having longer shutter speeds (in this case 1/20th of a second) and gaining almost 1/3rd more light than standard cameras. This was important to Akeley because the majority of his filming was during the dusk and dawn hours when lighting was not ideal.

    Akeley 35mm Motion Picture Camera

    While Akeley’s design was pure genius, it never gained enough credibility throughout the industry to revolutionize the motion camera market. It was not until the 1970’s that the industry would see a camera with a 220 degree shutter (still not as wide as the Akeley).

    Akeley 35mm Motion Picture Camera Interior of Akeley 35mm Motion Picture Camera with Film Cassette
    Akeley 35mm Motion Picture Camera Shutter and film advance mechanism of the Akeley 35mm Motion Picture Camera

    This sort of technology makes me truly appreciate the advancements we have in digital cameras today. Take a DSLR for instance. Many DSLR’s have the capability of recording high definition video at the push of a button, like the highly popular Canon 5D Mark II, 7D, or the Nikon D7000. How do you adjust the “shutter angle” or shutter speed on one of them? Simply turn a dial… bingo… done. How did you change it on an Akeley? Well first, you need to completely disassemble the camera. Remove the rotating shutter disc. Custom cut a new disc. Reinstall and calibrate, then pray that you got the right angle you need.

    Akeley 35mm Motion Picture Camera

    The “Akeley” is a remarkable piece of motion picture engineering, and about as rare as they come. World famous photographer Paul Strand once said of the camera, "It's really a piece of craftsmanship different from anything our friend George Eastman makes." Paul Strand purchased an Akeley in the early 1920's and photographed its inner workings.

    "Akeley Motion Picture Camera" by Paul Strand, 1922 "Akeley Motion Picture Camera" by Paul Strand, 1922

    The above photograph is currently part of The Metropolitan Museum of Art's collection and was donated to them in 1987 by The Ford Motor Company and John C. Waddell. The MET description of this photograph includes the following text:

    Strand had purchased the movie camera only days before he photographed it. His delight in the finely tooled instrument with which he planned to earn his living is evident in the series of photographs he made. This one shows the film-movement mechanism inside the clamshell case. That the camera is depicted upside-down is not irrelevant; the picture works only this way.

    It is believed that only 450 of these cameras were ever made, and somehow No. 158 has found its way to Green Mountain Camera. This camera has now been sold, but if you are interested in any of our used camera inventory, please check out our used camera store website here:

    To see the Akeley in action and actual footage captured by the camera, please visit the Wild Film History website.

    All of the above color photographs of the Akeley motion picture camera are of the one we have in our collection. Here are some additional photographs of the same camera:

    Akeley 35mm Motion Picture CameraAkeley 35mm Motion Picture CameraAkeley 35mm Motion Picture CameraAkeley 35mm Motion Picture CameraAkeley 35mm Motion Picture CameraAkeley 35mm Motion Picture Camera

  • Identifying Used Camera Equipment, Part 2 – More Lenses

    Do you have used equipment to sell? Green Mountain Camera is interested in purchasing your used or unused equipment. Find out how to sell your used equipment here.

    In this part of our series of identifying used camera equipment we are tackling a topic that will help a lot of confused people--Nikon lenses.

    Over the years Nikon has made a lot of lenses. In fact, to date, Nikon has manufactured over 50 million lenses. And, with 50 million lenses floating around out there, we come across a lot of used Nikon glass. Most of the used Nikon lenses we see are "classics"--of the manual focus type, and these come in three main varieties. The three main types of Nikon manual focus lenses are pre-AI (often referred to as non-AI), AI, and AI-S.

    This is where most people get confused. What are the differences between a pre-AI, AI, or AI-S Nikon manual focus lens, and how can one tell the difference? Perhaps it is easiest if we first answer the second part of that question. Identifying the difference between the three main types is actually pretty easy, as long as you know what to look for...

    Nikon pre-AI LensNikon AI LensNikon AI-S Lens
    Can you tell the difference between these three lenses that would make the first pre-AI, the second AI, and the third AI-S? Here's a tip: focus on the mounts.

    Nikon pre-AI Lens


    Nikon AI Lens


    Nikon AI-S Lens


    In the above photographs are marked the areas of concern. As you can see, the pre-AI lens has a smooth mount surface. The AI and AI-S lenses have ridges of metal (painted black) sticking out from the lens mounts, and with the AI-S lens there is a small, rounded indentation in the mount. In addition, the smallest aperture number on the lens is always colored orange. You may have also noticed that the pre-AI and AI lenses have a notched piece of metal in the shape of an inverse V adjacent to the mount. Really, that is all there is to identifying the differences between the three types of lenses.

    So, now that the differences have been pointed out, what do they do?

    Pre-AI lenses where manufactured from 1959 to 1977. The inverse V looking piece of metal on the top is actually the meter prong. This prong mates with compatible cameras, like a Nikon F with Photomic finder, and as the aperture is changed on the lens, the prong "communicates" the aperture setting to the camera. These lenses were never intended to be called pre-AI from the get-go. In fact, they were referred to, simply as, Nikon F lenses. But, once AI lenses were introduced in 1977, this is how these lenses were referred to by people.

    It's probably a good time to note that it is not appropriate to mount pre-AI lenses on Nikon AF camera bodies (including digital, but excluding the D40, D40x, D60, D3000, D5000) as these lenses may damage the cameras.

    Auto-Indexing (AI) lenses were introduced in 1977, and have an AI ridge for meter coupling--that ridge is the piece of metal stick off the mounts in the above pictures. Having a ridge instead of a prong for meter coupling makes it quicker and cause for less error to mount and unmount lenses. AI lenses, you will notice above, have a second row of aperture values. These values (also called Aperture Direct Readout) can be seen in the viewfinder of compatible cameras, so you know what aperture is being used without taking your eye away from the finder. Nikon began multicoating lenses in 1975, so these lenses are almost all multicoated. Also, Nikon continued to add the metering prong to many of these lenses to maintain meter coupling with older camera models.

    Unlike pre-AI lenses, AI lenses are compatible with almost all Nikon camera bodies after 1977, except for a few of the cheaper AF camera bodies. Also, it is interesting to note, Nikon offered AI conversions for pre-AI lenses. These converted lenses look very similar to AI lenses, and most people can't tell the difference and often refer to them as AI lenses, instead of AI'd (AI'd is the appropriate term). There are also many do-it-yourself lenses out there where individuals converted the lenses themselves. We have even seen lenses where someone super-glued a little plastic tab in the right spot on the aperture dial to couple the meter correctly.

    In 1981 Nikon introduce auto-index shutter (AI-S) lenses. These lenses have the small indentation in the mount of AI-S lenses as seen in the above pictures, and this indentation serves the purpose of indicating that a lens with a linear action diaphragm is mounted. The Nikon FA was the first camera to use this information, and that happened back in 1983. It is interesting to know that no current production cameras use this information. AI-S lenses do feature modifications to allow for more accurate shutter priority and programmed exposures, but only when used with a compatible camera body. Also, AI-S lenses are typically lighter and smaller than the AI or pre-AI lenses. Many individuals attribute this to Nikon's motivation to cut costs rather than innovative construction materials. AI-S mounts typically feature 3 screws rather than 5 (see above pictures).

    This concludes the second part of our series about identifying used equipment. In our next post we will talk about identifying cameras. As there a many different types of cameras, and hundreds of manufacturers, we'll discuss the main camera types like SLR, rangefinder, etc., rather than more specific things like identifying different Leica rangefinders (IIIb vs. IIIf for example).

    Do you have used equipment to sell? Green Mountain Camera is interested in purchasing your used or unused equipment. Find out how to sell your used equipment here.

  • Identifying Used Camera Equipment, Part 1 - Lenses

    Looking to sell used equipment? Green Mountain Camera appreciates all used equipment! Please go here to find out how you can turn your used equipment into cash.

    At Green Mountain Camera we love camera equipment, and that's why we are a camera store that still buys, sells, and trades used cameras and equipment. The latest and greatest technology is always fun, but there really is nothing like a classic. And, although we sell a lot of new cameras, we like to think that our core business is dealing with used equipment. Learning about the history of photography in a hands-on way is what keeps us going and gets us excited to come to work in the morning.

    Not everyone gets as excited as us when it comes to camera equipment, however; and we understand. We deal with a lot of individuals who inherit, or are given, equipment, and these individuals just may not be interested. There are also those who love to take photographs, but don't know a lot about the camera equipment they have. And, it can sometimes be difficult when such individuals contact us and try to explain what camera equipment they have, or have inherited, and want to sell or trade. In an attempt to help with this communication, and also educate anyone who is interested, we have created this series of posts. This first post will concentrate on understanding the three main markings that can be found on most any modern lens.

    One of the biggest hurdles in communicating about camera equipment are lenses. For a lot of people, when they look at the markings on the rim of a lens, it is plain gibberish. Here is an example:

    Minolta AF 35-70mm LensI grabbed this lens from our parts/repair bin, which happened to be close by, and it is a great example. There are three main things that are important to us for identifying and evaluating used equipment. The first is probably the most obvious and easiest to find--that is the manufacturer. The manufacturer of a lens is usually prominent and often repeated on the lens in a couple of locations. In addition, people are often familiar with the brand names (Nikon, Canon, Minolta, etc.) to be able to easily identify the manufacturer. In the case of the above lens, it is Minolta.

    The second important factor is the focal length of a lens. Some lenses are fixed focal length (non-zoom) and others are variable focal length (zoom), like this one, and the lens even says "zoom" right on the rim. This lens has a variable focal length of 35-70mm. If it was a fixed focal length it would simply be something like 70mm, with no dash or other number. The smaller the number for indicating focal length, the larger the field-of-view of the lens (simply put: how large of a scene you can fit into your composition), and the larger the number the smaller the field-of-view. Numbers larger than 50mm are typically referred to as telephoto and effectively "magnify" or "brings things closer".

    The third important factor is the maximum aperture. People are often confused by aperture. Why? Because the larger the number, the smaller the aperture, and the smaller the number, the larger the aperture. What is important for a lot of photographers, and certainly for the value of the lens, is the maximum aperture, and, therefore, the smaller number. Like focal lengths, lenses can have either a variable or fixed aperture. The above lens has a variable aperture. The aperture is usually always indicated by a "1:" and then a number. The "1:" indicates a ratio, and that is exactly what an aperture implies. People will often refer to the aperture of a lens by "f/" or "f:", which is essentially short-hand for "f-stop", but indicates the same thing as "1:". Going back to the above lens, the full aperture marking is "1:3.5(22)-4.5". You may be wonder what the "(22)" indicates? This indicates the smallest possible aperture for this lens. Although this is not as important for a lot of photographers, there are many photographers who want greater depth-of-field, and this will certainly be an issue for them.

    Side topic: How does an aperture vary? For a lot of zoom lenses, the aperture is variable. As a zoom lens' focal length is changed, the aperture varies. As the focal length is made more telephoto, the aperture is made smaller (the number becomes larger).  Most of the time, fixed aperture zoom lenses, at least if they have a relatively small fixed aperture, are more valuable.

    There is a another marking on this lens that is not important for its identification and value, but is useful to know. The circle-looking symbol with a diagonal dash through it, and then a number, is the filter size indicator. In this case, it is 49mm, so this lens uses 49mm threaded filters.

    Here is the same lens marked for quick reference:

    Minolta AF 35-70mm Lens MarkedWhat happens if your lens looks like this?

    Nikon AF 70-300mm LensNot to worry. Somewhere on the lens you will be able to find similar markings to the Minolta shown above.

    Nikon AF 70-300mm Lens Marked

    You may have also noticed with both of these lenses that "AF" is indicated. This marking connotes that these are auto focus lenses. In some circumstances, this too can be important for identifying a lens. It is possible that a manufacturer made a manual focus lens and then updated it years later to be auto focus, and maintained all the other same attributes, like focal length, aperture, etc.. So, if known, it is helpful to indicate the lens is auto or manual focus.

    This concludes our first post about identifying used camera equipment. In this post we talked about the three main things to look for about a lens to help identify that particular model. In our next post we will continue with lenses, and talk about Nikon lenses and the different types (pre-AI, AI, AI-S, AF, AF-I, AF-S) and camera compatibilities. We will also discuss how to look at and through a lens to discover its physical condition, which can greatly impact its value. There may be more hiding inside a lens than  you think.

    Looking to sell used equipment? Green Mountain Camera appreciates all used equipment! Please go here to find out how you can turn your used equipment into cash.

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