Antique Camera Treasure


One persons obsession with a roll of film found in a camera in an antique store.

I love cameras. Ask anyone who knows me and they’ll tell you about my seemingly ridiculous obsession. I shoot mostly with film these days. Some would say it’s a step backwards, but I love the wait for development, the anticipation, and the unexpected results.

From the Diana to the LC-A, and many in-between, my collection seems to grow monthly. I can also often be found perusing the aisles of antique shops looking for another to add to my collection.

I always open the cameras, but never realized I was doing it. I think I’ve been subconsciously waiting for what eventually happened last month. I was in a local antique mall, and I stumbled across an Ansco Panda; a simple TLR dating back to the 1940’s. I opened it up and inside was a roll of film that had been shot but never developed. I quickly closed the camera and checked the price; $15.00. How could I refuse?

I paid for the camera and made a hasty exit, suddenly worried that someone in that tiny shop would become aware of what they had held. I couldn’t wait to get this roll developed. What would be on it? Who did it belong to? What stories did it have to tell me? Was it a lost camera of Elvis? Or perhaps, as my paranoid mother suggested, the lost camera of a mass murderer? Should I be expecting a visit from the police after dropping the film off for development?

And then the wait began. My local camera store does not develop 620 film in store. The turnaround isn’t usually too bad, ten days tops, but because I was so anxious to see the results, it felt like an eternity. Ten days passed with no call from the lab. I was beginning to get nervous. Had it been lost in transit? Did it get confiscated? Maybe the original camera owner was from Roswell and the film had been confiscated by some government official, in a classified operation. Dear God, where was my film?

Ten days turned into two weeks with no call from the lab. I was starting to obsess. I called the lab, but there was no answer. I tried again, and it just kept ringing. I waited five minutes and I phoned again. Still no answer. Had they gone out of business? Where was my film!? At this point I was hyper-ventilating. The madness had to end. I wanted to cry. Where was my film?

I woke up in a cold sweat. Apparently this mystery roll was starting to be a bit of a health issue.

I tried to push it out of my mind. I needed to get on with my life. I needed to start shooting again. I grabbed my LC-A+ and went for a walk. That’s better. I was going to beat this. I finished off a roll ready for the lab; I would take it in on Monday.

A friend of mine came by my workplace and asked if I’d gotten the film back. Crack. Obsession Redux. Where was my Elvis/Mass-Murderer/Alien film?

I barely slept. I needed release.

Monday arrived, and I went to the Photo Lab with my newly finished roll. but my mind was elsewhere. As I approached the kiosk, my hands were sweating, my heart was pumping and the fellow behind the counter was suddenly public enemy number one. That bastard had stolen my mystery film. He must pay…

“Hello Mr. Weed” he greeted cheerfully.
“Hi” I replied. Attempting to keep my voice level. Trying not to betray the fury within.
“Dropping off today?” he asked innocently.
“Your last breath” I thought to myself.
Out loud I responded; “Sure thing”.

We finished the transaction, exchanged pleasantries and I turned to leave.

“Oh, Mr. Weed,”
I turned back expecting him to mock me, admitting as all evil geniuses do, the nature of his plan. He was gong to sell my Elvis/Alien/Mass-Murderer film and make millions. Ooh, I was angry.
“Weren’t you waiting for some specialty film?”
“Yes, I was.”
“I just noticed it came in today. Sorry about the delay. Here you go.”

My heart leap into my throat. A wave of relief rushed over me.
“Thank you” I stammered.

I grabbed the roll and ran out of the store, my faith in humanity restored.

I don’t get prints made when I develop film, I find the store results too sterile, over processed, too clean. I prefer to scan the negatives myself. It takes a bit longer, but it’s worth it. The lab tends to fix the vignetting and clean up the over saturation my beloved Lomography cameras are known for. If I want a crisp image, I’ll use my DSLR.

But, I digress. I opened the package that my roll was in, unraveled it and held it up to the light. I couldn’t see much; some trees, some mountains, definitely no Elvis. But it didn’t matter; I had my treasure. I had saved this roll from an uncertain future.

Here are the results of my little trip into obsession;a vignette of someone’s life I will never know. Judging from the clothing and style of dress, I will guess these photos were taken in the early nineteen eighties. The film was decaying rapidly, but I managed to get all twelve shots off the roll. Please enjoy these images of a family road trip from 30+ years ago.

written by weedos on 2010-06-15 in #world #locations #1980-s #road-trip #ansco-panda #camera #antique


  1. cinzinc
    cinzinc ·


  2. paramir
    paramir ·

    wow. great story! beautiful text :) and - wonderful shots! a treasure indeed!

  3. pulex
    pulex ·

    damn!! these picture look absolutely great.....amazing!

  4. draki
    draki ·

    Wow! Great story, lucky you! Who knows, maybe this nice lady was a mass murderer indeed? ;)

  5. vicuna
    vicuna ·

    Great story and I can understand how anxious you were until you saw the shots! Even if it's not Elvis, a mass murder or Roswell, the shots are great, have this beautiful vintage mood with passed colors and it gives beautiful views of the landscapes with a kind of sky in fire...

  6. cyan-shine
    cyan-shine ·

    fw00t! Great post! I also have three such films, but they are of the pre-C-41 era and I will prolly need to develop them B&W...

  7. superlighter
    superlighter ·

    wow! lucky you! great find!

  8. weedos
    weedos ·

    Thanks everyone for the Likes and Comments!! I'm glad you enjoyed the article. Cheers, John

  9. quaisoir
    quaisoir ·

    Awesome story John! Great shots. hmmm...which makes me wonder...making a film time capsule is not such a bad idea. as long as there's still the technology to develop film in the future!haha..

  10. metzgor
    metzgor ·

    your srorry was so exciting and the pictures look also amazing

  11. maria_vlachou
    maria_vlachou ·

    BEAUTIFUL!!! You should write more often...

  12. copefan
    copefan ·


  13. ipdegirl
    ipdegirl ·

    SO lucky about that film!! I've tried to use some 'found film' but it's always been dried up and falls apart in the back of the camera. Thanks for sharing your story! Love it!

  14. erikamentari
    erikamentari ·

    simply awesome

  15. weedos
    weedos ·

    A quick update. I've been informed that these pics were most likely taken at The Elbow Falls about 30 minutes West of Calgary. I think I need to take the camera on a little Road Trip:)
    Thanks again for all the support!! Cheers!!

  16. ashrafkuma
    ashrafkuma ·


  17. gnarlyleech
    gnarlyleech ·

    and to think that I have thrown out rolls of film found in cameras I have purchased. Like you I guess I feared what might be on it.

  18. ensign
    ensign ·

    a great story :)

  19. severin
    severin ·

    as a follow up project you should take the camera to the exact same locations and shoot the same pictures with people in same clothes and then make an exhibition with the old and new ones.

  20. dimitrul
    dimitrul ·

    Nice story! And there are some photos that are really nice! Although it must be strangely interesting rediscovering someone´s life...

  21. analogeyes
    analogeyes ·

    nice one! im always on the hunt for these too. well done!

  22. ritamiguel
    ritamiguel ·

    so cool! loved it!

  23. chaoticsense
    chaoticsense ·

    Great article!

  24. bennkenn
    bennkenn ·

    I'm in the same situation. I got a Brownie Holiday Flash with an exposed roll of film in it. I haven't wanted a roll of film developed so bad in my life.

  25. medwards807
    medwards807 ·

    I grew up in Bragg Creek! I DOUBLE like your pictures!

  26. medwards807
    medwards807 ·

    (that's where Elbow Falls is)

  27. mafiosa
    mafiosa ·

    Can't wait to see the 2013 re-creation results!!!

  28. weedos
    weedos ·

    @madiosa I only hope I do them justice. :-)

  29. deepfried_goodness
    deepfried_goodness ·

    Great article!

  30. weedos
    weedos ·

    @deepfried_goodness, Thanks!!

More Interesting Articles

  • Photo Stories: O is for Obsession by buckshot

    written by Kwyn Kenaz Aquino on 2015-06-09 in #world #lifestyle
    Photo Stories: O is for Obsession by buckshot

    No wonder buckshot's albums are always an instant hit: He's had years of practice with a treasure trove of cameras and photography books. This obsession has yielded 175 albums and more than 80,000 loves from the community—and counting!

  • Storytelling with Petzvals: Alex Timmermans and the Art of Collodion

    written by jacobs on 2015-04-03 in #people #lifestyle
    Storytelling with Petzvals: Alex Timmermans and the Art of Collodion

    Not long after Alex Timmermans purchased his first digital camera at the turn of the century, he quickly realized the trappings of digital photography couldn't fulfill his personal photographic desires. He then began searching for a more challenging process — one that wasn't so predictable. His journey eventually landed him back at the roots of analogue photography, specifically employing the wet plate collodion process using original Petzval lenses. This antique photographic process found in him a renewed inspiration and has since become his passion, which is evident in both his words and his images.

  • Fresh from the Lab: One Roll of Film and the Lubitel 166U

    written by fadjaradiputra on 2014-11-07 in #lifestyle
    Fresh from the Lab: One Roll of Film and the Lubitel 166U

    Adi, Ekeu, and I did a lomowalk around downtown Bandung last Saturday, the beginning of November. We planned to use our Lubitel cameras with only one roll of film each. We were inspired by the One Roll of Film Project by four Tokyo-based photographers with their Hasselblad cameras. This is about the one roll of film I shot with the Lubitel 166U, which made me love shooting in medium format even more.

  • Shop News

    Diana Mini and Flash Petite Noire at 25% off

    Diana Mini and Flash Petite Noire at 25% off

    At 25% off you can take dreamy 35mm images with this little black beauty. Beam coloured light into your shots with its accompanying Diana Flash Back accessory and be the analogue king of the night.

  • When Two Legends Meet: User Review of Leica M3 Camera with Petzval Art Lens

    written by candilsw on 2015-05-21 in #gear #lifestyle #reviews
    When Two Legends Meet: User Review of Leica M3 Camera with Petzval Art Lens

    With a love of antique cameras and analogue photography, Shawn Lin has long been an active member of the Lomography Community with dozens of his shots being featured. Shawn likes to explore the effects of double exposure on different themes and objects, with an emphasis on the presentation of colours. Come take a look of his work of using Petzval Art Lens on his antique camera and his thoughts about the two!

  • A Political Rally in Como

    written by sirio174 on 2014-08-18 in #lifestyle
    A Political Rally in Como

    In the week preceding the elections for the European Parliament, several political rallies were held in Como. As with all other public events in my city I documented one of these rallies, this time using a Russian film camera Zorki 6 loaded with a black and white film roll. Take a look!

  • Photo Stories: Found Film - Egypt 1966 by ehmahh

    written by Julien Matabuena on 2015-06-17 in #world #locations
    Photo Stories: Found Film - Egypt 1966 by ehmahh

    Found photographs are little treasures chanced upon by photographers, historians, and enthusiasts of vintage curio. At a boot fair, ehmahh found a boxful of Kodachrome slides which turned out to be travel snapshots taken in Egypt by an unknown traveler almost 50 years ago.

  • Shop News

    LomoKino Basic Package Services

    LomoKino Basic Package Services

    Process your LomoKino films the right way! Get scans, movie and negatives. This is the easiest way to turn those movie rolls into completed masterpieces! Check this service now!(Service availability depends on your markets)

  • Top Photo Uploaders of March 2015

    written by Eunice Abique on 2015-03-27 in #world #news
    Top Photo Uploaders of March 2015

    How many rolls of film does one consume in a month?

  • Cinematic Combo with the Lomo LC-A and Cine200 Tungsten Film

    written by cheeo on 2014-07-25 in #lifestyle
    Cinematic Combo with the Lomo LC-A and Cine200 Tungsten Film

    The classic Lomo LC-A is a great camera that deserves equally astounding film. Load a roll of Cine200 Tungsten Film in your LC-A and fall in love with this lovely analogue combo!

  • Skate Photographer Joe Brook Shoots with the Petzval Lens

    written by antoniocastello on 2015-02-06 in #people #lomoamigos
    Skate Photographer Joe Brook Shoots with the Petzval Lens

    Joe Brook is one of the most popular photographers in the West Coast skate scene, shooting for magazines like Trasher, Juxtapoz, Rolling Stone, and different outlets such as PDN and Kodak. Having previous experience with an old Petzval lens mounted on a 4x5 camera, it was but natural for him to try the new one. Brook talks about finding himself, his work, and shooting with the Lomograhy Petzval Lens in this exclusive interview.

  • Shop News

    Standard Photo Development Services

    Standard Photo Development Services

    Done shooting and want your films to be processed? We can process your colour and black & white 35mm, 120 or 110 films! Development, prints and scans are also included. (Service availability depends on your markets)

  • A Salute to the Masters: R.I.P. (A Tribute to George Krause)

    written by sirio174 on 2015-06-20 in #world #lifestyle
    A Salute to the Masters: R.I.P. (A Tribute to George Krause)

    This article is dedicated to the multifaceted American photographer George Krause and to his series depicting funeral monuments realized between 1962 and 1963. I was able to know about this series thanks to an important essay on photography written by former Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) Director of Photography, John Szarkowski. For this tribute, I loaded my trusty Praktica camera with a roll of Ilford film and took a series of photos in the Monumental Cemetery in my city, Como. Take a look!

  • Reviews on Rewind: Pop 9

    written by Julien Matabuena on 2015-03-29 in #gear #reviews
    Reviews on Rewind: Pop 9

    The Pop 9 is an analog multilens wonder that allows you to take a mosaic of nine images in one frame à la Andy Warhol's famous pop art. In this Reviews on Rewind installment, we dug through our archives and found these informative reviews of the Pop 9 - just in case you're looking into snagging a fun camera in your arsenal!

  • December 13th Advent Offer: Take Advantage of our Festive 3 For 2 Film Deals! (Online Code: 3FOR2HOLIDAYFILM)

    written by jacobs on 2014-12-13 in #news
    December 13th Advent Offer: Take Advantage of our Festive 3 For 2 Film Deals!  (Online Code: 3FOR2HOLIDAYFILM)

    Have you been waiting for a good time to load up on films for all your treasured analogue cameras? The time has come with our stunning Advent deal of the day! With our sweet film packs, we make it easy to cache away enough to last the fun and festive parties coming up. Start stashing now by heading over to our Online Shop!