View Full Version : Chicago - Central Camera Appreciation Thread

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06-09-2013, 12:00 AM
Made it to the loop today and gosh was it fun to visit Central Camera. For those from not around here, Central is Chicago's oldest camera store (since 1899). The place was hopping. I had excellent service, tons of selection, and what was most special to me was a group of students walked in, some with analog cameras/some with something else, and all were shooting the breeze, with the sales folks, talking whatnot (lenses, film, storage, prints, whatever)....was real happy to just wait my turn in line, bought a bunch a film. I believe they have their own house brand of photopaper, anyone use it before?

Some shots of the shop for those who have not had the chance to make the trip.

film counter

camera counters

darkroom supplies (sorry the photo is so bad).....

06-09-2013, 01:54 AM
I've been there years ago. Wonderful place off of Wabash I think. Good to see the pic of darkroom goodies. I want to go back now.

David A. Goldfarb
06-09-2013, 03:30 AM
Great place. I always try to stop in when I'm in Chicago.

06-09-2013, 11:40 AM
It's been a while since I've seen a clerk standing behind a counter and in front of all those yellow boxes.

06-09-2013, 11:51 AM

06-09-2013, 12:27 PM
I go to Chicago every April and make a point to stop in and buy a few things. Last time I was there, I asked the guy in your photo if he sold memory cards, and he said he did. I told him I didn't know what kind of card my camera took, or even where it went. He asked me to show it to him. I opened my little red LowePro bag and pulled out my Leica IIIc, and played dumb. He said it wasn't a digital camera but was an old camera that used film. He said he would trade me brand new little digital camera for it. :D

Kent in SD

06-09-2013, 02:25 PM
Thanks zsas for posting the pictures. Sure has changed (modernized) from when I was last there (60's) yet, still the same in a lot of ways. Always been my favorite, still buy from them mail order.

06-09-2013, 02:54 PM
Always been my favorite, still buy from them mail order.

Which means they have a mail order link. Care to share it? Always good to know of such outlets for analog stuff. Never mind, I googled and found it.

Mark Fisher
06-09-2013, 03:17 PM
They also have anything you might imagine. I once went there and asked whether they have a 48mm orange filter for a Canon rangefinder I had at the time. As far as I know, Canon rangefinders and rangefinder lenses are about the only cameras that used a 48mm. He pulls 2 out from a drawer and asks which brand I wanted.

David A. Goldfarb
06-09-2013, 05:01 PM
The Canon drop-in filter holder for the big white teles also takes 48mm filters with thin rims.

I remember stopping in there once with my 4x5 Technika over my shoulder to buy a box of Tri-X, and the young man at the film counter thinking it was really cool to see someone using a press camera handheld, and it being a Linhof in the wild.

06-10-2013, 08:05 AM
I had some super old expired chrome (64T), used it in a plastic camera and cross proceeded it at the drug strore. Kinda suits this shot....prob not everyone's cup'a tea, but I couldn't just throw the film out could I? :)


06-10-2013, 11:55 AM
Central Camera was the high point of my recent visit to the Windy City. Great folks, great place.

09-20-2013, 11:07 AM
http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7396/9030740631_622e96a35d_b.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/axle81401/9030740631/)

I have now visited this wonderful store twice now...and now have to go back again. Also I was able to find some APX100 film there so there's that!

09-20-2013, 01:04 PM
I was just there on Monday, got great customer service, including a 2nd opinion on my C-33's focusing problem, and came away with several polarizing filters for different lenses. Old Ben Chin (he's been there since it opened in 1899) convinced me that my Yankee-style tank would cause uneven development and tried to sell me a Jobo unit, without the lift, for $250. But what did interest me was a Jobo 8x10 tank with a holder for 12 4x5 sheets and a powered roller unit. It's a good thing I resisted because last night I found that I already own a Uniroller. So today I called them up and the tank is now on its way.

It was just great to wander through and see all the different equipment, film, papers and chemicals, and to have intelligent conversation with knowledgeable people.

09-20-2013, 02:06 PM
We saw this when we were cruising the loop on labor day:

Central camera rocks!

09-20-2013, 10:56 PM
I've shopped at Helix and the Calumets, but never at Central. When my wife and I next visit our daughters at that school in Hyde Park, we're taking a field trip. I cherish my first visit to any photography store. It's great to have another such moment to anticipate!
Thanks for the post.

12-08-2013, 09:49 PM
House brand of paper is supposedly Ilford.

12-08-2013, 09:51 PM
Don, at Central Camera, is still the man in charge.

12-08-2013, 11:03 PM
House brand of paper is supposedly Ilford.

I love their house-brand FB Matte paper. It works very well with Caffenol processing. (their glossy paper, not so much) When I bought some last year, they told me it was Czech, but "not Foma". (their emphasis) I'm going to pick up a few more packs when I visit after New Years.


03-28-2014, 12:16 AM
It is a good place for shop. You always enjoy shopping in Chicago.