When you read a list about ‘vintage’ gear you don’t usually expect to have the first item have a microprocessor in it, but here we are. Canon’s A1, released in 1976, was actually the first camera body to have a fully automatic setting that would control shutter speed and aperture depending on what the light meter was reading – a function that has become ubiquitous among cameras today. If you are looking to pick one of these old school shooters up for yourself to capture some shots in the wild, just know that it uses the old FD lens mount.
You couldn’t tell by looking at it now, but the Graflex Crown Graphic Special was the first choice among many press photographers. Despite being large they were relatively light due to the fact that they used a focal plane shutter and an external viewfinder. This 4 by 5 inch large format version was released in 1947 and produced for just under thirty years before it was discontinued in 1973. While it was still in production, however, they were used to shoot everything from presidential elections to high speed auto racing, making them well known enough to have ended up on the masthead of the New York Daily News.