Here we’ve collected some popular vintage home movie cameras from the 50s, 60s, and 70s that paved the way for video and camcorder technology — and, eventually, the digital video revolution as we experience it today.
These early film devices not only captured the essence of their time, but also transformed the way people immortalized memories and documented life’s most precious moments.
Whether you’re an aspiring filmmaker, a history buff, or just curious about the evolution of video technology, rewind the tape and rediscover the groundbreaking vintage home movie cameras that laid the foundation for the modern world of videography.
Vintage home movie cameras: Bolex 8mm home movie camera ad with Bob Hope (1956)
Bolex is a superb Swiss movie camera, styled for those who want the very finest in movie equipment. That’s why in Hollywood, for example, you’ll find professionals and amateurs alike admiring the matchless craftsmanship in every Bolex detail.
A home movie camera timeline
Here’s a brief overview of the vintage home movie camera evolution — from film to video, camcorders and beyond:
- 1920s – 16mm Film: Eastman Kodak introduced the first 16mm film in 1923, aimed at amateur filmmakers. The Cine-Kodak camera, released in 1924, allowed everyday people to capture motion pictures for the first time, albeit at a high cost.
- 1930s – 8mm Film: In 1932, Kodak launched the 8mm film format, a more affordable and user-friendly option for home movies. The smaller film size made it easier for consumers to purchase and use cameras, leading to a boom in home movie-making.
- 1940s – Color Film: Kodachrome, a color reversal film, was introduced in the 1930s but gained popularity during the 1940s. The vibrant colors and ease of use made color film a popular choice for home movies, though black-and-white film remained widely used due to its lower cost.
- 1950s – Dual 8mm: In the mid-1950s, manufacturers introduced the Dual 8mm format, which combined the standard 8mm film with a new, thinner version called Super 8. This allowed for longer recording times and made the cameras even more accessible to the average consumer.
- 1960s – Super 8: Kodak launched the Super 8 film format in 1965, featuring a smaller sprocket hole size and cartridge loading system. The easier loading process, along with the addition of sound capabilities in 1973, made Super 8 the go-to choice for home movies during the 1960s and 70s.
- 1970s – Video Cameras: The introduction of video cameras, such as the Sony Portapak in 1967 and the Betamax video cassette recorder in 1975, allowed users to capture and play back video without the need for film development. The 1970s marked the beginning of the transition from film to video formats.
- 1980s – VHS and Camcorders: The VHS format, introduced by JVC in 1976, became dominant in the home video market during the 1980s. Camcorders, combining a video camera and recorder into a single unit, grew in popularity. These devices made it even easier for families to capture their memories on video.
- 1990s – Digital Video: With the advent of digital technology in the 1990s, digital video cameras emerged as a new option for home movies. The format offered higher image quality, smaller camera sizes, and the ability to edit video easily on computers.
Today, smartphones and compact digital cameras with high-quality video capabilities have, of course, replaced traditional home movie cameras… and it’s the the widespread accessibility of these handheld machines that have made capturing and sharing home videos easier than ever before (as a quick look at TikTok will attest).
ALSO SEE: How Kodak Brownie cameras made snapshot photography affordable for millions
Revere Electric Eye-Matic 8mm fully-automatic movie cameras (1958)
Here is the world’s first completely new automatic camera — backed by more than six years of electric and engineering research.
The Revere Electric Eye-Matic is the easiest movie camera in the world to operate. Just aim and shoot! Capture the action the instant it happens. Sweep from sunlight to shade or floodlight to shadow without resetting!
Whatever the light condition, indoors or outdoors, the Exposure Computer Lens electronically adjusts the iris opening instantly and continuously, like the action in the pupil of your eye. All done by energy of light, without aid of batteries. You get perfectly exposed pictures every time.
Included also are such outstanding features as: automatically computed lens setting always visible through the viewfinder for special effect references; insufficient light signal; extra-large, tinted, optical glass viewfinder; view-finder parallax adjustment; extra-long-run governor-controlled spring motor and many more.
Compare the Revere Electric Eye-Matic with any other camera and you’ll agree there’s nothing like it anywhere!
ALSO SEE: Fisher-Price Movie Viewer toys from the ’70s let kids turn a handle to make movie magic
Wittnauer Cine Twin 8mm movie camera and projector all in one (1958)
Here is the amazing new Wittnauer Cine-Twin that you have heard about. This fabulous professional-type all-electric movie camera and project combination can save you over $100 as compared with separate units of equal quality.
Take the Cine-Twin camera. It’s battery-driven; no springs to wind — you can take a full reel without stopping, even get into the action yourself.
A few of the other exclusive features: a true turret; an oversized optical zoomfinder; a lifetime reserve power indicator which constantly monitors the camera’s electronic circuit.
You experience the thrill of taking fascinating professional-quality home movies—steady, flicker-less, brilliant in color, correct in speed. A graphic color-coded exposure system guarantees perfect shots.
In 30 seconds your Wittnauer Cine-Twin converts from camera to compact, high-precision projector—ready to regale you with perfectly beautiful, brilliantly colored, life-like home movies.
But, truly, words cannot describe this amazing all-electric movie camera-projector combination. We urge you to see the Wittnauer Cine-Twin for yourself. The price complete, ready to take and show movies, with f/2.5 standard taking lens and f/1.6 projection lens — $169.50. Telephoto and wide-angle acces-sory lenses are available at nominal extra cost.
Bell & Howell Focus-Tronic Super 8 movie camera (1966)
This power focusing camera assures you of razor-sharp zoom movies — without guessing.
The BELL & HOWELL touch: We’ve taken the guesswork out of focusing. Our 5-to-1 zoom lens camera — the Focus-Ironic Super 8 — has Power Focus.
This Bell & Howell exclusive puts you in perfect focus with the push of a button. And it locks you there, whether you power zoom in or out through the entire 5-to-1 range of the lens (the same basic lens system we built for the successful Surveyor moon shot program).
Power Focus assures you that your movies will be sharp. Our automatic Optronic Eye guarantees that your exposures will be perfect. And you can switch into slow motion instantly: right in the middle of a shot.
A commitment to innovation and precision: The Bell & Howell touch that makes all our cameras fine photographic instruments. And your movies more exciting and fun to see … for years and years to come.
When you look through the viewfinder, you’ll see a highly magnified image. If it’s out of focus, push a button until it’s sharp. Now you’re locked in perfect focus…
ALSO SEE: The epic evolution of vintage camcorders revolutionized how we captured memories (1970s-1990s)
Konica Super 8-6TL movie camera for film (1967)
Vintage home movie camera: GAF Anscomatic ST-90 movie camera (1967)
Only the ingenuity of GAF design could offer cameras that appeal to the more experienced photographer, as well as to the beginner. The GAF Anscomatic® 726 still camera, and the GAF Anscomatic ST/90 movie camera do it by simplifying the complicated features often used for advanced photography.
The feature-packed ST/90 movie camera with accelerated motion and slow motion takes all Super 8 film cartridges, and has 5-to-1 push button power zoom lens for complete scene control, electric drive, automatic exposure control with manual override. Under $185.
These are the features that make a camera come alive. And with a little help from GAF’s “family of fine Anscochrome films,” you can make any scene you’re shooting come alive, too. Get the picture?
ALSO SEE: Vintage instant cameras from Polaroid & Kodak: OneStep, Pronto, Colorburst & more
Kodak Ektasound movie cameras with microphone handle (1977)
The Kodak Ektasound movie camera makes it so easy to take sound movies. Just drop in a cartridge of film, such as Kodak Ektachrome 160 sound movie film, and push the shutter release. It’s that simple. And the microphone? It’s right on the handle! So, you’re free to move around and shoot wherever you want without worrying about cords or micro-phone placement.
You don’t need movie lights, either. Indoors or outdoors, in room light or sunlight, the Kodak Ektasound movie camera takes colorful sound movies without movie lights. There’s also an automatic exposure control that adjusts the amount of light reaching the film.
And, there’s a sound monitor so you can hear what the camera is hearing — both before and during use. Ask your photo dealer for a demonstration. There are several models to choose from including the new model 250 with power zoom and the new model 260 with power zoom and coupled rangefinder. Kodak Ektasound movie cameras
MORE: Vintage Instamatic cameras: The boxy, iconic cameras pretty much everyone had in the 60s & 70s
Vintage home movie cameras: Minolta XL-660 sound movie camera (1977)
The Minolta XL-660 sound movie camera gives you seven more features than the similarly priced Kodak. Why do we do it?
If you’re like most people, when you think of buying a movie camera, you think of buying a Kodak” So to change your mind, we at Minolta have to offer you more camera than you get from Kodak for about the same amount of money. Which is what we’ve done for you with the very versatile Minolta XL-660 super-8 sound movie camera.
That’s why you get seven additional features for easier-to-take, more professional-looking movies. And it’s a unique combination of features you can’t get in a Kodak sound movie camera, no matter how much you pay.
Sankyo movie cameras – One movie is worth a thousand snapshots! (1980)
There’s a Sankyo for every budget… from our new EM20XL silent and XL320 sound — to models with every more features. Or go all the way with our amazing XL620 Supetronic.
SEE MORE: Vintage Kodak movie cameras for film: Brownies, Instamatics, Super 8 & more