What is a Tower Camera?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

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.

Woman with hand on her hip
Woman with hand on her hip

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.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a EasyTechJunkie researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


My husband's stepbrother was incredible during our wedding. We did not ask him to take pictures because he is a photographer by profession, so we just wanted him to have that time off.

However, he showed up with all of his gear, hauling it all the way from Montana to North Carolina. The pictures were incredible, of course, but the fact he took pictures without being asked meant that much more and my husband and I absolutely treasure the pictures.

Some of my favorites pictures were actually not from his digital camera but from his favorite and best 35mm camera. It reminded of what pictures looked like when I was kid (except the really good pictures not so much the disposable 35mm camera pictures). The pictures just seemed to make us look more natural.

I will have to ask my husband's step-brother if he used a Tower camera as they seem like they were good cameras, and as a professional photographer I could see him knowing about these cameras.

If he doesn't have it I will have to try and track one down as a "thank you" to him for taking pictures at my wedding.


My Dad has always enjoyed taking pictures and has several old cameras around. I don't think he has ever gotten rid of a camera he bought. I know he has at least one Tower camera in his collection.

When I look at the quality of pictures that were taken with this SLR film camera, I am amazed. These photos have stood the test of time and even though they may be a little yellowed, the quality is still quite good.

His Tower camera captured a lot of my families best memories. Even though he has slowly made the change to digital cameras, I know he will still hold on to his old cameras.

I know that his Tower camera still works and it probably wouldn't hurt to take a few pictures with it from time to time.


When we were going through my grandparents belongings I came across two tower cameras. Even though you knew they were old, they looked like the were sturdy, well-built cameras.

One of the cameras still had an undeveloped roll of film in it! I was so excited to see what pictures would show up when we had it developed.

I don't know how long this roll of film had been in there, but the pictures came out great. There were pictures of a trip my grandparents had taken and some family Christmas pictures.

There was a mix of emotions as I opened up this package of pictures. Anticipation, excitement, nostalgia and some sadness from missing my grandparents.

The world of digital cameras has certainly changed the way we view photos, but these Tower cameras were top of the line in their time.


My dad has a few old tower cameras. He is kind of an amateur camera collector and he focuses mostly on cameras from the 30s, 40s and 50s. I can remember him saying that the tower camera was far from the best camera ever made but that it was sturdy and reliable and shot a pretty decent picture. I was the perfect camera to take a family road trip. He doesn't display his tower cameras at the front of his collection but they are there all the same.

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