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Free Fun Retro Camera Patents To Print

I love looking at old patents for everyday objects. I thought it would be fun to share some fun retro camera patents here.

These camera patents would look great framed or even printed on t-shirts and pillows. They would make a wonderful gift for any photographer, armature, or professional.

I’ve lost count of how many cameras I have owned, it must be over 20. My first camera was a cheap basic 35mm film automatic camera. It was a gift for my twelfth birthday.

I remember getting my first Polaroid camera at 14 and my second in my 40’s when they came back into fashion the second time around. In the early 1990’s I bought my first digital camera. It only took pictures that were 1MB in size.

Today I own 3 digital SLR cameras and my iPhone. I have a craft blog as well as this site, where I share step-by-step photographic tutorials. Hence I need to take a lot of photos.

Photography is an important activity in my family. My sister is a great black and white street photographer. My father is a very good amateur wildlife photographer. And all my sons went through a wildlife photography phase, trying to impress their grandfather.


A Bit About Photography and Camera History

The word “Photography” comes from Greek, meaning to draw with light. Good lighting is an obsession of mine when taking photos. I prefer natural daylight to take my photos, so I’m always hoping the weather will be good on photography days.

It’s not surprising that we take more than a trillion photos every year. That works out at about 160 photos per person. Most people have camera phones. Every day, millions of photos are uploaded to apps such as Facebook and Instagram.

Every 2 minutes we take more photos than existed before the 1900s, but very few are printed on paper. Most photos are shared digitally or online. Also, by their very nature, many digital photos are only fleeting. For every photo I take, I personally only keep 1 in 20.

There is actually a website where you can send photos from lost cameras in an attempt to help find the original owner.

Early Cameras

The first commercial photographic camera was a Daguerreotype built-in France by Alphonse Giroux in 1839. Unlike modern photographs, the daguerreotype had no negatives. The image was exposed directly onto a mirror-polished surface of silver. These cameras were limited in that they had long exposure times, of up to 30 minutes.

George Eastman was the first to pioneer the use of photographic film. His first camera was the Kodak (1888). It was a box camera that came preloaded with enough film for 100 shots. The camera was sent back to the factory for processing. Eastman’s first mass-market camera was the Brownie, an inexpensive camera that remained on sale until the 1960s.

Edwin Land invented the Polaroid camera in 1948. His 1965 model of the Polaroid camera the Model 20 Swinger was the first aimed at the general public and became one of the top-selling cameras of all time.

Steven Sasson a Kodak employee invented the first digital camera in 1975. But it was shelved out of fear that it threatened the companies photographic film business. Kodak actually didn’t join the digital photography market until the late 1990s.

The first commercial camera phone was released in Japan in 1999 and the first mass-market camera phone that could transfer images was developed in November 2000. Now the majority of photos are taken with a phone.

The Retro Camera Patents

I have used the Google patent search to find some fun camera patents. As you can imagine there are over 100,000 patents related to photography and cameras. After a bit of research, I have just picked ten patents that have appealed to me.

To download the camera patent that you want, click on the title above that patent. It will open in a new window on your browser. If you then click on that image with your mouse, you will have the option to save the image to your device.

There are two versions of each patent, one with a white background and the other with a black retro background.

1. Camera With Flash Patent (white)

Camera Flash Patent (black background)

 A 1942 patent for a built-in photo-flash synchronizing mechanism for use in a camera. 

Flash Camera retro patents

2. Frankel Box Camera (white)

Frankel Box Camera (black)

Reflex cameras with a single objective and a movable reflector or a partly-transmitting mirror.

frankel Camera

3. Photoflash Camera Patent (white)

Photoflash (black)

Control of exposure by setting shutters, diaphragms or filters, separately or conjointly in accordance with both the intensity of the flash source and the distance of the flash source from the object, e.g. in accordance with the “guide number” of the flashbulb and the focusing of the camera.

camera patent photoflash

4. High Speed Grid Camera (white)

High Speed Grid Camera (black)

This invention relates to movie cameras, more particularly to the high-speed grid camera useful for tracking purposes.

high speed camera

5. Automatic Film Winding (white)

Automatic film winding (black)

Camer patent for an automatic film winding and shutter tensioning control camera mechanism.

Automatic Film winding

6. Photographic Camera Patent (white)

Photographic Camera Patent (black)

The photographic camera of the invention is provided with a built-in photoelectric exposure meter.

Photographic camera patent

7. Polaroid Camera Patent (white)

Polaroid Camera Patent Black

A patent diagram relating to the Polaroid camera by its inventor Edwin Land.

Polaroid camera

8. 1938 Camera Design (white)

1938 Camera Design (black)

1938 camera-patent

9. Focusing Mechanism (white)

Focusing Mechanism (black)

The present invention relates to photographic cameras and more particularly to focusing mechanisms of such cameras.

focusing mechanism

10. 1963 Camera (white)

1963 Camera (black)

Reflex cameras with a single objective and a movable reflector or a partly-transmitting mirror.

1963 camera patent

If you enjoyed these retro camera patents, then you should check out the cool guitar patents on the site. I also have a collection of fun Christmas themed patents and some wonderful camping patents for scouts.

These patents would also be great to craft with as I did with kitchen patents. (Some of these camera patent images were used for the DIY tea light lanterns craft)


Donna @ Modern on Monticello

Wednesday 24th of March 2021

These would be good for a man's office even if he wasn't in to photography and cameras. So very nice and detailed too. #HomeMattersParty


Wednesday 24th of March 2021

Thank you, they would look good in a mancave or den.

Naush Samama

Monday 22nd of March 2021

This is a remarkable collection. Isn't is amazing how our generation has seen the evolution of the camera ! Thank you for sharing your post with us at Meraki Link Party. Delighted you could join us. Looking forward to seeing you again. Much love Naush


Tuesday 23rd of March 2021

Thank you, yes it's amazing how cameras and photography have changed in this century already.


Friday 19th of March 2021

These are so cool! Thank you so much for them! I too am passionate about photography and cameras. My dad was, my sister is, and my daughter is, too. Thanks for sharing this with us at the TFT party.


Saturday 20th of March 2021

Thank you, we are all keen photographers too in this family.


Wednesday 17th of March 2021

These are brilliant, I can definitely see me using them. My daughter studied photography as so one of these could be perfect for a birthday card or framed print for her. I love the photography facts too, thanks for them. My first camera was a kodak instamatic. It had a cartridge that popped in the back with either 12 or 24 photos, you had to make that last all holiday so would have to choose what you would take pictures of with care. You could buy a seperate box flash that clicked on the top with 4 flashes so you had to use those with care too! Simpler times eh? !!


Thursday 18th of March 2021

Thank you, I remember those Kodak Instamatic I'm pretty sure we had one in the family. Yes, we used to take much more care with our photos in the past, now with digital photography, I'm very snap happy.


Monday 15th of March 2021

Cameras are a big favorite of one of my family members, so tucking this away for future use. My fascination has always been with subway maps so I'm doing to see what I can find similar to what you've done. Thanks for the idea!


Tuesday 16th of March 2021

Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed the prints. We are big camera fans in my family too.