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 #places #shopping #analogue #location #dirklancer #camera-shop


  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 !

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