Collecting old or Antique Cameras
Many people collect old cameras for many varied and different reasons, but one thing is sure, when they are displayed they make a great looking feature in any room.
There are collectors who go for only one brand and others who, like myself, collect any camera that takes their fancy - for whatever reason. I have a collection of cameras that range from box cameras of very ordinary provenance to cameras that were high end professional pieces in their day.
One thing I have discovered is that there are a lot of cameras out there that are over-priced. They are advertised with glowing descriptions of their capabilities, which may or may not be true, and are written "up" to command a higher price. That is NOT to say all cameras with a glowing report card are over-priced. Some sellers acknowledge their lack of knowledge on some cameras, as do sellers of other items while other sellers offer a history of the camera and let you do the thinking which is fair too.
I have discovered many many true bargains here on ebay from some highly recommended sellers. I have also seen some other cameras commanding outrageously high starting prices and never attract a bid.
From my own experience and from my own perception, I regularly refer to a guide book I have on Antique and Vintage Cameras and look to see what I like and what I would like to explore further. Then I search the internet for histories, facts sheets and any other information before I do a search on ebay. I track histories of cameras sold taking into condition, seller history and so on then work out what I want and how much I am prepared to pay. I have to admit the Australian dollar exchange rate does play a big part in what I want to pay.
Then it is just a matter of putting in a bid and waiting to see... sometimes I luck out and then go searching for another example of what I want and that can go on for a while - I am still waiting on one particular camera that I decided I wanted to buy about 5 years ago to come up for sale - so for successful and happy collecting then patience is a must.
Sometimes it is possible to find that camera you want at flea markets or antique shops but I find those venues to be high retail prices and not real values whereas ebay offers good value, most of the time, and basically wholesale prices. Yes there is a downside in asmuch as you can't handle the camera before hand but a genuine buyer will describe to the best of their ability and always answer questions you might have.
There are brands that continually sell for high prices, Leica, Contax are just two examples but think of it in the longer term and realise that some of these cameras will become scarcer and scarcer and can offer a great investment - if you can bear to let them go later on.
Make a list of priorities, such as "Do I want only working cameras?", "Do I want to collect only one brand?", "Do I want to collect only one type of camera, eg 35mm rangefinder?" and so on.
Then make a list of the cameras you think you want for your collection. Search the history of those cameras and make another list (too many lists? No, trust me this works), then research prices, work out what you want to pay then go searching.
Collecting cameras is a great link to the past that anyone with an interest in photography can appreciate and if you buy only working cameras then go use the thing once you have bought it. In this day and age of digital instantness it is wonderful to load film, calculate exposure, focus and WAIT for your films to come back from the lab... and you might just be amazed at the results film creates.
Good luck, happy hunting and enjoy your collection.
Collecting old or antique cameras
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30 January 2009
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