A Tower camera is a camera from the Tower family of camera models produced for Sears, Roebuck, and Company in the 1950s and 1960s. Sears sold a number of different models under the Tower brand name, many of which were produced by highly reputable manufacturers. Collectors of vintage cameras sometimes maintain Tower cameras in their collections and some photographers also enjoy working with some of the Tower camera models. Like other Sears product, the Tower camera could be ordered through the mail along with accessories such as replacement film.
Several different styles of Tower camera were sold, including medium as well as standard format cameras. Many Tower cameras were single lens reflex (SLR) cameras produced by well known brands like Olympus. Others were box cameras, and the Tower camera line also featured some twin lens reflex (TLR) cameras. Sears maintained a reputation for high quality and its Tower camera line was no exception.
Many Tower camera models are all metal, and consequently can be very heavy. Some models featured changeable lenses while others did not and the quality of the lens could be variable. In some cases, lenses from a manufacturer's regular line can be mounted on a Tower camera because some models were essentially stock models with a different name plate. Sears also sold cameras under other brand names, although the Tower lineup was probably the most extensive.
Tower cameras can be identified by the Tower name printed on the camera. Some also bear markings indicating that they were produced for Sears. If a Tower camera has been well cared for, it should be fully functional and usable and some enthusiasts have even found cameras with film inside which could be developed to see what the previous owner was taking pictures of. In other cases, some restoration work may be needed to clean the camera and prepare it for use.
Several enthusiast websites maintain listings of information about vintage cameras. People who have Tower cameras and are unsure about the model, the kind of film needed, and other information can visit such sites to see if there are any listings which match their models. Many of these sites also have forums where people with experience are happy to offer advice to people who are just starting to explore the world of vintage cameras. Forums also usually include some photographers who can provide advice on using and maintaining vintage cameras.