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Camera Rescue’s 4th Year of Camerarescuing

Updated: Nov 29, 2021

An update on our mission to save 100 000 cameras by 2020, and details of our big giveaway!

As we celebrate our 4th anniversary, it is, again, time to look back at a year of Camera Rescuing.

This year was the most bipolar yet – with very high notes and an almost endlessly long list of failures. As with previous anniversaries, let’s take a little look at the year before you get to enjoy the anniversary festivity raffle. If you are new to Camera Rescue you can read this article or watch this video to get to know us.


International visitors and a visit

The year started with a pleasant tone, as during July and August of 2019 we had three summer interns from Switzerland/Sweden, Belgium and France here with us in Finland. In addition to sorting and digitizing the repair queue of 2000+ cameras, they created some informational videos on scanning and on making film cameras today, discussing solutions to very central problems for the future of analog photography. We were also visited by YouTubers Matthieu Stern and Matti Haapoja.

Soon after that, I went to visit Japan and Hong Kong, to conclude my global research on the analog industry after visiting the US in 2018 and the biggest markets in Europe in 2017. I was very surprised by what I found. Japan was rumored to be the Eldorado of the analog camera world – and that was, of course, true in a way – some shops have more stock than whole countries in Europe. However, the biggest surprise was a very recent change in the market. Locals told me that prices on the streets of Tokyo and Osaka had doubled in the past year and this was now starting to show around the world, slowly. 

Why do street prices in Japan affect the whole world? Well, a little talked about secret in the film photography world has been that the only easy way to buy film cameras wholesale, used to be buying large lots from Japan. In the early 2010s there used to be shipping containers full of gear coming from Japan to European resellers. However, as new analog gear lifestyle shops popped up all through China, South-East Asia, Australia and even in some of the big metropolises of Europe, they all went for the same internet-trendy cameras found in Japan. A Canon AE-1 kit or Olympus Mju II for 500 USD is now a reality if these high-street shops want to still use Japan as a source and add the same old percentual profit margin.

Naturally, the high street prices affect locals – who scuttle to eBay to find the 350 USD kit. Meanwhile, somewhere else in the world, the community thinks 200USD is way too much for an electronic camera that could break at any moment. Although this is the logic of supply and demand and a natural development of the market as more people get into film photography, I was nevertheless surprised about how high and how fast prices have changed in Japan and Hong Kong.

After Japan I headed to France to help the Camera Rescue team there, but that’s where difficulties started.

The difficulties

The last year has been one big crapfest in terms of problems. As Cameramakers and the sellers of actually do the handling and repairing of cameras, the projects core role is to make this possible by taking care of the digital or physical infrastructure.

In short it means that during our daily routine, we take care of things like renovating an old building suitable for the teams to unite in (like we did in 2018) or work on apps/management systems for processing 50-100 cameras a day.

This year we were supposed to get a physical space both in Helsinki and Paris sorted. In Helsinki we found a space and moved in, only to be evicted by a bar run by the famous movie director brothers Kaurismäki and the ex-US ambassador (long story, believe me). Then we searched for a new space just to find it just in time for it to close before lock-downs.

I wish Paris would have been easier. However, the strikes, the yellow jacket demonstrations and corona have made developing a presence almost impossible for over half of the year. Most of the problems hit our partner Nation photo, not the project directly, but it did slow us down again for quite some time.

At this point, it would be lovely to say that the digital side went better. It did not. Finally, after two years of futile development, we decided to bury our global camera app project this winter. Once we had failed with software development we hoped to switch the global outreach of the project to an educational side, but also this failed, not collecting enough funds through crowdfunding to create a basic Camera Rescue educational course in January. More about the whole episode here.

And then the virus started making its rounds. March and April were supposed to be filled with camera shows in the UK, France, Sweden, Germany and Spain which we would make a road trip out of. We had shipped 500kg of Outlet gear to England, had 1000kg of Outlet gear in a van in Denmark and two stranded team members in Belgium when the borders started closing. The Eurotour of 2020 became a fight against the clock to head back to the north, instead of a pleasant two-month tour, meeting the community in the biggest photography events of the year.

But yes, everyone has had their calendar turned upside down this year and instead of all the failures and mishaps, let’s get to the upsides.

The Good News

The team in Finland has been marvellous. The 20 people full time working in the four locations in Finland, co-working on the project have really stepped up during the past year. A total of over 25 000 cameras were processed during the year – with the total amount of items on the homepage counter hitting 81 537 while I write this.

And even more importantly – the quality of gear going out has increased. During this year, two new Cameramakers, have been mentored by the old masters to repair cameras independently and are becoming part of the new generation of Cameramakers. Check out their Instagram @cameramakers. At the same time, 6 others have gotten adept in the rather intricate art of testing gear with the original testing machinery. Even with travel restrictions, the international crew has also grown considerably and some of the guys have spent months in Finland just learning new things daily. The summer trainee program of 2020 got over 350 applications. We even got an elf wanting to join the crew, but as he still works for Santa during the winter months, he decided sourcing humans with rarely available, special film would do for now.

Then we got a lovely old lady on the team – The Cambulance, an old rescue operations coordinators mobile HQ unit (maybe easier to say ambulance, although technically different) that we modified to look the part. Impressively, she has already done 10 000km this year, even with the restricted use and delivered over 1500 cameras to the center so far.

And as a good news for everyone reading this online, we just recently started experimenting with taking our Outlets online. Usually reserved to the massive public gatherings of photographers in Europe, last month we started testing doing Outlets online with a 20 to 60€ / box model. The results of the first 110 boxes are encouraging: At the time of writing, only 13 are left unsold. Most were sold within the first day of publishing and then quickly dispatched to customers all around the world. We also ran a survey for those of you that bought them and were very excited to find that not a single reply to the survey said that they were unhappy with their box. In fact, many said they were great value, and some people reported that they had learned to do little repairs like bellows fixing and lens cleaning on cameras that would have gone in the trash in most photography shops – not at Camera Rescue though!

Online Outlets will be continued throughout 2020 on a drop basis (it is only valid to do in bigger lots), the next one being in early July. Follow up on our Instagram (@camerarescue) or email newsletter to get notified of drops.

The 20 000 challenge for 2020

Looking ahead we have a massive challenge ahead of us: To reach our goal of 100 000 cameras. The project needs to find and buy 20 000 cameras by the end of the year. That is over a hundred cameras a day. It will push the teams and premises to the limit, but we are willing to give it a go!

To actually find 20 000 cameras to buy in 6 months will be a challenge we will need help with from the community. If you hear of any big camera or repair part lots, just let us know (email at the bottom, or any social media). Especially now with the restrictions, we will need more helping eyes than ever before. We will also release videos to help you find cameras locally during the summer on our YouTube and you can also join our Facebook Group for it.

And to spread the word about us and the project we will, again, celebrate this anniversary with a camera giveaway!


The giveaway

This year we have 5 prizes on our giveaway sponsored by @kamerastorecom. One of them will be given to a lucky winner according to how widely the campaign reaches new people. There are two ways to participate in the giveaway: Get updates to your email or share the campaign on social media.

On the email side, you can win by subscribing to either or both:

On the social media side you can share any of the Giveaway celebration posts on our Instagram (via stories) or Facebook (via share button).

Each share and each email subscription counts as one raffle ticket on the giveaway.

Level 1 prize: 1000 new email subscribers

For level 1, we kick off with this ‘golden’ ‘Leica, which is really all about the bling! No, it’s not gold and no it’s not a Leica, but it is a really cool and actually quite sought after Soviet copy of a Leica III. The bling body, of course, comes with a bling lens – the 50mm f/3.5 Elmar copy also plated to match. It is fully working and can, of course, be used to take pictures, or you can keep it on your shelf and show off to your friends!

Level 2 prize: 2500 new email subscribers

The Level 2 prize is a really special camera. The Nishika 3D N8000 takes four half-frame images in one click of the shutter. Since they are all lined up horizontally you get four images from slightly different perspectives. You can combine these into really cool GIFs that give you a 3D effect. Check out Eduardo Pavez’ video on the camera HERE!

Level 3 prize: 5000 new email subscribers

Level 3 is a true pro camera. The Contax N1, released in 2001 right at the end of the film era, has all the features you could dream of. Autofocus, accurate multi-point TTL metering, super high 1/8000 top shutter speed, automatic winding at 3.5 frames per second, every type of automatic exposure control and a databack. All this, and it has access to some fantastic lenses. If you win this one, you get a spectacular and versatile Carl Zeiss 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5 Vario-Sonnar. On top of this, the camera feels great in the hand and has brilliant ergonomics. This is a true workhorse for the demanding photographer.

Level 4 prize: 7000 new email subscribers

For level 4, we have a truly modern medium format system with spectacular lenses. The Rollei Rolleiflex 6001 + 80mm f/2.8 Planar was Rollei’s competitor to Hasselblad for the professional market. Picking it up and looking through it, you will notice that the focusing screen is so bright and so easy to focus that you might look down at even the best Acute Matte D Hasselblad focusing screens. This is a fully electronic camera with all the functions, like motor winding and built-in metering, but it is surprisingly small and very easy to use.

Level 5 prize: 10 000 new email subscribers

For level 5, an introduction is probably unnecessary: The Hasselblad Xpan is, at this point, probably one of the most legendary cameras. Supplied with the 45mm lens, this kit is unattainable for most of us. Introduced in 1998, it shoots super-wide panoramic frames that make your photos look like small movies, and is the only 35mm camera to do this natively in the world. Being a rangefinder, it is still small and light, but solid and sturdy. For many, this is the dream camera!

The giveaway will end on the 1st of July 2020 23:59 and the winner will be personally notified by email or social media message!

If you are interested in seeing how our past years have been, you can read about our second and third year.

With any matters regarding the project, please feel free to contact me at

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