What is my camera worth?

I do receive E-mails and letters asking the above question.

- - Jan. 2010 - -

ONE:  I'm no expert on camera pricing or some "rare" camera that may be worth $2,500.

I can only suggest that you check www.ebay.com for selling your old 35mm camera.  At one time there were local stores that sold these items for you on E-bay but it seems most of them closed.  My daughter-in-law worked at one.  Their biggest problem; if the item didn't sell the owner may not come back and pick up the item and the store had to hold on to it for some time creating storage problems.  Plus it was not a big money maker.  Her place closed.

Cameras are like computers… once worth a lot, their value declines as technology changes (new cameras are better and cheaper) or something all together different is available.  Film cameras have a nitch, but few people want a film camera anymore.  Digital cameras are the same... What your digital SLR was worth, is downgraded to a used computer, plus as with film cameras, it's old and can break.  Repairing film or digital cameras are very expensive.

[Quick answers: Kodak box or folding.. a few dollars.  There were made by the hundred of thousands.  Old 620 film is available from B&H photo NYC.   Old 40's or 50's are garage sale "oh, my dad / grad dad had one and it's only $4", Rolleiflex cameras maybe $50 to $150.  Only old Nikon rangefinders seem to be "collectors".  Check on-line]

Condition of the camera is critical, that is a 20+ year old item.  There are foam seals around the edge of the camera back, to block out light to the film.  There is also foam by the mirror, both can denigrate and is a big job to repair.   Lenses for standard user cameras have be replaced by dirt cheap zoom models.  With modern computers they can make a 35mm to 200mm zoom. So you don’t need a 35mm, 50mm, 135 and 200mm lens anymore. I recently picked up a used wide range zoom for my Pentax Digital for just over $100 on E-bay.  Many cameras stuck in a attic or moist areas for years become worthless.  Any rust means damage.  Batteries not removed erode the contacts and repair is expensive, if even possible.

No camera store would want your camera, if you can find a camera store anymore.  I have watched as many of the N.J. "camera stores" closed over the past 8 years.  These were large well established stores.  They have a hard time competing with Walmart, Target and other electronic stores. Their biggest money maker was film processing, and no one is doing that anymore!  Maybe, if there was a college or HS near you and they sold these film camera for photo class.  Most photo classes still require a manual camera, (I get many E-mails stating just this fact) where you had to adjust the setting.  Not sure if the teacher would accept any camera that's very easy to lock into automation.   I can see these classes turning to digital very soon.  The reason: costs.  Digital cameras do not need to pay for processing nor printing.  Flicker, E-mail, or other digital methods have replaced a 4x5 print.   Most photography now has to do with "photoshop", enhancing the photos or completely changing the photo.  At a recent NYC photo show (2009) not much had to do with "photography" but electronics.  How fast you could manipulate the image to get what you want.  Booth after booth selling their own brand of software to manipulate the image, plus many booths providing on-line storage sites for the gigs of space needed to store and show your photos.

So, you can check E-bay and the film camera bodies for many film cameras and 50mm lenses would go for around $40 – $100 (depending on condition) and the lenses about $30 or more for the lens.   Don't go by many E-bay sales for $200+ for a camera and a lens.  Anyone can request a price, see if the item sells.   These are not the Canon or Nikon film cameras.  Their digital cameras take the same lenses, that makes them more valuable.  But the E-mails I receive state that they pick up very nice Canon or Nikon cameras for dirt cheap.  This included many found at garage sales and "goodwill" stores,  even a few Alpha, Contex and Rolleiflex cameras were found there !   They now have www.shopgoodwill.com and sell some nice cameras for dirt cheap.   Ricoh cameras need Ricoh lenses to work in "program" mode.  This is a big NEGATIVE against a Ricoh.  No more new lenses are available.   Pentax lenses would work on Ricoh bodies, but only in “auto” mode where you had to change the setting to get a correct exposure.  There were aftermarket lenses from Vivitar / Tamron marked PK-R that had both contacts, but they stopped making them in the early ‘90s.

A majority of older "classic" cameras (Olympus, Konica, Miranda, Fujica, Beseler, and the like) are dead in the water.  Nothing but used equipment is available.  Olympus changed their lens mount, Konica has nothing to do with Konica/Minolta which is now a Sony digital brand. 

A Pentax lens works in their “program” mode on film and digital cameras.  A big plus for Pentax film equipment.  Digital Pentax cameras require new Digital flashes.  You can now buy a Digital Sony SLR for $399 with zoom lens.  That model will take Minolta/Konica lenses and there are thousands  of old Minolta Maxx lenses dirt cheap on E-bay.  I do believe the their old flashes work on the newer digital.

If you have a 2 1/4 professional, your camera is worth way less then you think.  Everyone has gone digital. At the '09 NYC show only one booth had a 8X10 camera.  Only one 2 1/4 maker was there selling their digital back.  From my E-mails these 2 1/4 pro camera are being snapped up on E-bay for a few hundred, with lenses.  With the newer Canon and Nikon full frames digitals at 22mp, I saw shots wider then my hands outstretched with no grain, super sharp and run off monster inkjet printers.  No wedding photographer shoots film anymore.  Many booths at the NYC show offered your "wedding album" done on-line with "flat pages" for just over $150 with 80+ pages.  There were two companies selling digital backs for Hasselblad/Maniya.  It seems those that "wished" to have a 2 1/4 that cost over $600 for just a body yeas ago, now can get them for a couple of hundred.

I hope I answered a few questions.   What's a Canon AE-1 body/lens worth.... well you first have to sell it, but if you get over $40.. be happy.  For older digital cameras, the point and shoot models are gifts to younger family members !  Point and shoot cameras (like the APS film and 35mm) are gifts to younger family member, if they want it. The used digital SLRs are being sold at the on-line camera stores are real cheap.  This also makes film cameras less appealing.


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