Cameras Before Digital
The camera has evolved to fit many needs, from aerial to underwater photography and everything in between. Cameras allow both amateur and professional photographers to capture the world around us.

About the Photographic History Collection
The Smithsonian's photographic history collection offers a unique glimpse into how advances in camera technology have inspired generations of new photographers.

Established in 1896, it is the oldest collection of photography and cameras in an American museum. It boasts more than 10,000 photography-related objects, documenting the history of photography from its invention in 1839 through to today's digital imaging.

On Display at the National Museum of American History
The "Cameras Before Digital" display case features 22 cameras from the Museum’s Photographic History Collection, focusing on the technological progress made from the camera’s invention in 1839 to the advent of digital photography. Learn more. Note: the exhibition is now closed.

Add Your Camera to our Flickr Group
Do you have a favorite camera in your collection? Share a photo and tell us how you acquired it, how (and if) you've used it, and why you've kept it. Join the "Cameras Before Digital" group.
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