Central Camera Company, Chicago


In the shadow of the L train on South Wabash Avenue in the famous "Loop" stands an old school camera shop that has been there since 1899.

I walked in to the cluttered shop and felt like I had stepped through a portal to a different place and time. I walked in to a partially organized collection of everything analogue, obscure, time-tested, sometimes dust-covered, and stacked floor to ceiling, wall to wall.

The “young man” in the shop was probably 15 years my senior, and his colleague was more than a generation older. When I tried to stump them with my arsenal of photographic obscurity, they withstood my advances and met me at every turn. I mentioned a rumor of a 120 to 620 respooler in New York, they pulled out some rolls of his film. When I mentioned a “Contina LK” that I found at an antique mall, they told me it had a Zeiss lens. They laughed at my camoflage Holga, and I bought some film.

They do all the modern digital stuff too, but that’s not what caught my attention.

If you’re in Chicago, you owe it to yourself to find Central Camera, owned and staffed by the same family for three generations. Hop off the Blue Line at Jackson Station, and you’re not too far away…


written by dirklancer on 2010-05-29 in #world #locations #camera-shop #analogue #dirklancer #shopping


  1. vicuna
    vicuna ·

    What a place! I think I could stay there for hours and ruin myself in antique cameras and films....!

  2. lawypop
    lawypop ·

    should classified as protected camera shop :)

  3. ishoothorizon
    ishoothorizon ·

    Love these old stoes.

  4. jelga
    jelga ·

    es la cueva de alí babá! ;)
    shame it's so far away!

  5. sandkorn
    sandkorn ·

    what an amaizing place, a real treasure chamber

  6. lomosexual_manboy
    lomosexual_manboy ·

    Dang I wish I knew about this place when I was in Chicago. I would have loved to check it out. Next time I guess. Thanks for sharing.

  7. kylewis
    kylewis ·

    Love places like this, in fact thats a total understatement I adore!

  8. titidvivant
    titidvivant ·

    The guy in pic #2 is so cool, I don't know how old he is, but he is always wearing the best sweaters and slowly and painstakingly takes down my medium format processing information. When I come to pick up, he gets an ancient calculator out and figures out the total with a smile. Classic time warp.

  9. maliha
    maliha ·

    There is a chance that I may move to chicago/schaumburg area sometime in the middle of this year! I have been searching the web for places to be and such. And of course, having an old school camera/film/developing shop close-by is just like the cherry on top!!

  10. nurng2000
    nurng2000 ·

    love this shop , i got my first slide film from there !

More Interesting Articles

  • Kelly Angood and the Exciting World of Pinhole Photography

    written by jacobs on 2015-04-03 in #people #news #lifestyle
    Kelly Angood and the Exciting World of Pinhole Photography

    The founder of The Pop-Up Pinhole Co., Kelly Angood, has been handcrafting pinhole cameras from scratch since 2010. After developing a huge online following from one of her early pinhole designs, she embarked on a mission to design an affordable, functional pinhole camera that could be constructed all in the comfort of your own home — and it had to look great too! Following an incredibly successful Kickstarter campaign, her mission was realized. Read on to see how it happened and what's next for Kelly and The Pop-Up Pinhole Company!

  • Mary Ellen Mark on Street Photography

    written by lomographymagazine on 2015-03-20 in #world #lifestyle #videos
    Mary Ellen Mark on Street Photography

    "I’m an analogue photographer but I’m old school in the sense that I don’t believe in cropping," Mary Ellen Mark shares in this video by Seaport Museum New York. "I believe you have to make the picture in the camera."

  • Meet our LomoGuru: dudizm

    written by Eunice Abique on 2015-05-17 in #world #lifestyle #videos
    Meet our LomoGuru: dudizm

    A freelance music designer with a strong penchant for analog photography, David Elalouf has been sharing his wonderful photographs in the community for 10 years now. His LomoHome not only became an avenue for him to share his work but also a bridge that forged strong friendships with fellow lomographers. Let's welcome our newest LomoGuru from Paris, France, dudizm!

  • Shop News

    Fuji Instax Wide 300

    Fuji Instax Wide 300

    Shoot wider and bigger with this new instax camera that has film format twice the size of the instax mini films!

  • Camera Collections: chrisg35mm and his Admirable Analog Arsenal

    written by Eunice Abique on 2015-08-01 in #gear #lifestyle
    Camera Collections: chrisg35mm and his Admirable Analog Arsenal

    Chris Goodacre has been shooting on film since the late 1970s. At the same time, he also took interest in building an artillery of analog weapons. In this interview, he shares an extensive list of his collection and the fantastic story that come with each of his cameras.

  • Lomo’Instant Quick Shots: Adriana Brioso

    written by hannah_brown on 2014-12-09 in #gear #tipster
    Lomo’Instant Quick Shots: Adriana Brioso

    There are so many exciting things you can do with the Lomo'instant camera, it's hard to know where to start. We've been giving this lovable Lomo camera the full test drive so that you can experience the full potential of this camera in an instant! Here are some top tips on shooting graffiti and doubles with our UK intern Adriana Brioso.

  • LomoLocations: 'The Lord the Rings' Territory in New Zealand

    written by lomographymagazine on 2015-10-15 in #world #locations
    LomoLocations: 'The Lord the Rings' Territory in New Zealand

    Hiking in New Zealand has its own proper noun. Great Walks, they call it. The term stands for nine routes that can send people panting and oohing over nature. In 2001, another upper-case name sealed the country’s reputation for pristine land. "The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring" became an accidental advertisement for the green wonders of New Zealand.

  • Shop News

    Shoot recognizable images with the Petzval

    Shoot recognizable images with the Petzval

    You want your subject be the center of attention? Petzval lens photos are recognizable for sharpness and crispness in the centre, strong color saturation, wonderful swirly bokeh effect, artful vignettes and narrow depth of field that will make your subjects stand out!

  • Testing a Roll of Found Film

    written by billseye on 2015-07-20 in #gear #lifestyle
    Testing a Roll of Found Film

    In one of my vintage hunts, I bought a camera for $2. It came with an unexposed roll of film. After using up the last frames, I discovered that this old camera has Lomographic qualities.

  • Photo Stories: Snow Monkeys by ihave2pillows

    written by Julien Matabuena on 2015-06-28 in #world #locations
    Photo Stories: Snow Monkeys by ihave2pillows

    Ever since it opened in the '60s the Jigokudani Yaenkoen park in Nagano Prefecture, Japan has been visited by people from all over the world to observe the famous snow monkeys, or the Japanese Macaque. Lomographer ihave2pillows had the wonderful opportunity to see the snow monkeys up close a couple of years ago, and here are some of the photographs that he had shared with the community.

  • Cyanotype Photography with Petzval Amigo Chris Pollard

    written by hannah_brown on 2015-04-09 in #people #news
    Cyanotype Photography with Petzval Amigo Chris Pollard

    A few months ago we lent photographer Chris Pollard a Petzval lens to test out. Since then he has been experimenting with different cameras and in different settings. He tried out some cyanotype prints with this lens and chatted to us about the results. Read on for the full interview.

  • Shop News

    Get a Perfect Instant Selfie with Fuji Instax Mini 70!

    Get a Perfect Instant Selfie with Fuji Instax Mini 70!

    Get the perfect self-portraits or group photos with your friends with this instant camera! This camera allows you to be picture ready with its mirror next to the lens and gives you an idea where is best to smile!

  • Painting Delights: Going Wild with the Pixelstick

    written by jennifer_pos on 2015-03-17 in #gear #news #lifestyle #tipster
    Painting Delights: Going Wild with the Pixelstick

    Ever since light painting was invented, it inspired artists from all around the globe to magical creations that capture hidden movements and reinvent the world we live in. "Life is a fairy tale, stay wild little child!" is what they want to tell us. Bringing light to life became the next challenge for anyone rigged with a film camera and a creative mind. Now, how can you take your analogue light paintings from the ordinary to the outstanding? After the carriage came the car, so we definitely need some spacy inventions to follow the old school light pen. So here it is, our new best friend: The Pixelstick!

  • Reviving An Old Polaroid 1000 Camera

    written by Wessel de Haas on 2015-02-13 in #gear #reviews
    Reviving An Old Polaroid 1000 Camera

    Some time ago, my parents-in-law gave me an old Polaroid camera that they used during my wife's childhood. After some investigation, I found out that Polaroid had stopped making instant film. But the factory in Enschedé, the Netherlands had been taken over by The Impossible Project, so I bought a package of fresh film and gave it a try!

  • Vintage Camera, Modern Woman

    written by lomographymagazine on 2015-11-27 in #gear #lifestyle
    Vintage Camera, Modern Woman

    She teases out Lubitel's best side.