You probably have seen their brass lenses, old cameras, and various camera accessories over at their eBay page, or their website listings which they consistently update almost on weekly basis.

The Leroy Building in Islington, London
The Leroy Building in Islington, London

MW Classic is  one of few places for camera goods in London, particularly if you are looking for old camera gears and brass lenses such as the journey of practitioners in old photo-processes. Located in the edge of Islington within the Leroy Building, a hub for various entreprenuers in Islington, London.


It isn’t a retail that you could walk through or pop in and out, nor it is an upscale shop that carries new, shiny cameras, or have flashy advertisements of latest gears, or to expect any extended warranties. No, it’s a small warehouse that deals with cameras which requires hands-on operation and learned skills (no, no, no… not about analogue vs digital thing, there’s ample of that elsewhere).

Mr Mahendra Modi, one of the owner, and the other is Mr David Woodford (hence the acronym for MW Classic)
Mr Mahendra Modi, one of the owner, and the other is Mr David Woodford (hence the acronym for MW Classic)

It’s a place of tradesmen at work. If you go to any leather goods dealers, it’s the same kind of feeling and how it’s arranged; small, narrow path barely two could walk side-by-side, everything is piled up high and potentially could avalanche if you pull out the wrong inventory out (ever played Jenga?). Plus it’s always a game of how sharp your eyes to be able to peer through all that to find what you need, which most likely the rest of other finds to be what you want.

You are in the right place if you are looking for a particular lens to fit onto your wooden camera(s).

I was looking for a flange and the fitting lens onto my half-plate camera, which Mr. M able to direct me to a small area where I could look through for what I need
I was looking for a flange and the fitting lens onto my half-plate camera, which Mr. M able to direct me to a small area where I could look through for what I need

The review here isn’t about how the shop looks, but it is about finding places that sells the gears used in 19th Century and to mid-20th Century photography processes. The MWClassic is certainly one of them.

An array of brass lenses that goes up online for sale soon after they are registered in their inventory.
An array of brass lenses that goes up online for sale soon after they are registered in their inventory.

As mentioned earlier, it isn’t an actual shop to walk in, but appointment would need to be made for a visit. It’s just these guys are quite busy at work prepping lenses to be cleaned and assessed if it’s workable, cameras to be checked and researched, and sorting out all other cameras accessories and registered into their inventory. Which they would then prepare them to be uploaded to their website and over in the auction as mentioned earlier.

The prices? Well, they aren’t your barn-yard find kind of prices. They are priced accordingly to the demand of the market, they are not the cheapest, but it was considered what they have are based on the items’ rarity, the condition, and the demand for them. Is there any way of knowing what would be the value of lenses? Well, it is not actually written in stone, not like there’s a wall-street billboard telling us the minute prices of what they are valued at. These are no longer mass produced, they are widely used by practitioners or kept by collectors and practitioners themselves (some of you readers are hoarding lenses, taking more than what you need…. hahaha).

I have heard some complained on their price to be on the high side, but that’s normal if you start seeing how they operate. They constantly keep in touch with collectors which sells their wares, looking out for auction houses (in person and online), attending camera fairs, runners going around various markets and estate clearances.

They are traders, they operate as such and I respect that.

It would be no loss to visit them. Though they are busy all the time, they will give you time to chat a bit, usually they will measure you once you flap your gums if you are serious to be there and wanting their help to look for what you need. And they do, which I had good buy and lenses from them in the past few years.

** This review is of my own.

The images below is a quick snap of the things that they have there, though these does change as they usually are being bought and new ones coming in.

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A cute little quarter plate camera. Beautifully shaped and designed.
A cute little quarter plate camera. Beautifully shaped and designed.

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And what do you know, my good old friend, Joseph, the vintage camera seller over in Portobello was there (which I had previously reviewed in my old post). We had a great chat while we were there
And what do you know, my good old friend, Joseph, the vintage camera seller over in Portobello was there (which I had previously reviewed in my old post). We had a great chat while we were there

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Piles and sorted accessories, filters, flanges, bits and bobs of camera parts
Piles and sorted accessories, filters, flanges, bits and bobs of camera parts

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A handful selection of quarter plate daguerreotypes and ambrotypes in good condition Union Cases
A handful selection of quarter plate daguerreotypes and ambrotypes in good condition Union Cases
A surprise find! Never thought I would hold an early Daguerreotype lens (1850s)!  Hopefully some Dag mojo rubs off on me.
A surprise find! Never thought I would hold an early Daguerreotype lens (1850s)! Hopefully some Dag mojo rubs off on me.

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