Eastman 5x7 View Camera with Tripod

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This portable-style wooden bellows plate camera was popular with both professional and amateur photographers in the 1880s and well into the early twentieth century. Photographers attached plate holders with sensitized glass plates to the back of the camera, making fragile negatives. Wet-plate collodion photography popular from the 1850s to the late 1880s necessitated immediate developing and printing of these negatives. Landscape photographers and those on expeditions to the American West used small portable traveling darkrooms to complete quick developing and printing.
From its invention in 1839, the camera has evolved to fit many needs, from aerial to underwater photography and everything in between. Cameras allow both amateur and professional photographers to capture the world around us. The Smithsonian’s historic camera collection includes rare and unique examples of equipment, and popular models, related to the history of the science, technology, and art of photography.
Currently not on view
date made
ca 1880s
Eastman Dry Plate and Film Company
Place Made
United States: New York, Rochester
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
metal (overall material)
glass (overall material)
overall: 30 cm x 23.5 cm x 60 cm; 11 13/16 in x 9 1/4 in x 23 5/8 in
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Gift of William Meggers
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Photographic History
Artifact Walls exhibit
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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