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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


  1. vicuna


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

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  2. lawypop


    should classified as protected camera shop :)

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  3. ishoothorizon


    Love these old stoes.

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  4. jelga


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

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  5. sandkorn


    what an amaizing place, a real treasure chamber

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  6. 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.

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  7. kylewis


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

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  8. 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.

    about 4 years ago · report as spam
  9. 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!!

    almost 5 years ago · report as spam
  10. nurng2000


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

    over 2 years ago · report as spam

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This is the original article written in: English. It is also available in: Spanish & Português.