A Guide to Understanding Film Camera Pricing and Value
Cameras are important tools for capturing memories and unleashing creativity. However, the value and pricing of film cameras can vary greatly based on a variety of factors. In this article, we will discuss some of the factors that affect the pricing and value o film cameras, and how to determine what a fair price is for the camera you want to buy or sell.
Before going too much deeper I would like to remind you of the other article/video in the series titled "Why 90% of a cameras value is in its condition".
When buying a camera, it is essential to consider the monetary value of the camera. While eBay's recent sold listings may provide a general idea of a camera's global value, many other factors must be considered before determining if something is a "good deal".
Factors Affecting Camera Pricing
1. Intended Use
One of the easiest factors to consider when buying a camera is the intended use. Are you buying a camera to use, or are you buying a camera to resell? If you are buying the camera to use, you may be willing to pay more than someone buying the same camera for resale.
The boundary between these might be quite unclear - atleast I have bought many cameras for myself that were priced moderately thinking "If I dont like it, I get what I paid back for sure"
2. Reliability and Security
The intended use affects especially people looking for reliability - professionals or people going to use the camera for important memories will pay much more for a camera then a camera nerd that has 30 cameras already and much more then a collector that will not even use the camera. When buying a camera to use, reliability and security are essential factors to consider. You want to purchase a camera from a store or another photographer, knowing it is reliable and has been tested. While good deals are nice, most people don't want to risk buying a bargain camera that is not reliable.
Geographical location is a crucial factor in camera pricing. For example, if you are in the streets of a big city like Paris, Tokyo, or London, cameras like the Olympus Mju 2 can be more expensive than in other areas. Additionally, the income level and currency of the area can also affect pricing - fast currency exchange rate changes might leave some market highly or lowly priced for a time until the market re-adjusts. What many also don´t factor in is things like taxes and local restrictions. For example buying cameras from the US to anywhere in Europe usually ends up with the taxes + customs adding 30% more to pay before receiving the camera. In some countries it gets even worse - with Brazil having up to 200% tax on luxury imports.
On the video we go over the example pricing of a Mju II with prices of 2020. The prices have again grown by 50% to 2023 when this article was last updated, but the ratios for locations have stayed about the same: 1x Price for camera in remote area traded from hobbyist to hobbyist (aka eBay price) 1.5x Price for camera online in traditional shop 1.7x Price for camera online in boutique shop advertising to city 2-3x Price for camera in London, New York, Paris, Milan etc street boutiques
4. Online or Offline
Whether the item is online or offline will significantly impact its value. A camera on Craigslist may be worth more than a camera at a car trunk sale because more people have seen the ad. Conversely, if the camera is at a car trunk sale, you may be the only one who knows what it is and can offer less.
So to use the same ratio as above:
0.1x - 0.5x Price of camera offline in a trunk sale of flea market
0.5x - 1.5x Price for camera from a collector or the local camera event.
5. Last Use
When buying a camera, it is essential to ask when it was last used. The longer the time since the last use, the lower the value of the camera. This factor also increases the risk of the camera not working correctly, such as having corroded batteries or other issues. If a camera has not be used in 3-20 years, the likelihood of it being fully working is nowadays lower then the likelihood that it doesn't. The ratio depends on the climate of the location where you are buying the camera (moisture is bad for cameras) but expect an unused camera to work with a 10% to 40% chance. Even new in box, never used automatic cameras have problems - like this article explains.
Determining Fair Pricing
Determining a fair price for a camera can be a challenging task. A few essential questions to consider when determining pricing include:
What is the camera's value at a high-end shop? What is it online generally?
Does the situation have factors that make it ok to offer a low price for a camera?
Are you buying from a friend or someone in the photography community?
If you are buying from someone in the photography community, you probably don't want to lowball the seller, as the person rather just keep using the camera. Likewise, buying from someone who is not in the photography community may mean they are okay with any value - as the camera won't really be worth anything to them. Fair is therefore a very relative term. It all depends on the chances you have to test the camera, where it is sold, by whom it is sold and what is their use for the camera. Giving anything from 20€ to 400€ for a Mju II could be considered fair depending on the situation, condition and security for the deal.
In conclusion, when buying a camera, it is important to consider the value and pricing of the camera. Several factors, including the intended use, reliability, location, and last use, can impact the value of a camera. When determining pricing, it would be also prudent to consider ethical factors and your relationship with the seller. There is no one rule for pricing, but hope this breakdown of what affects pricing has made it easier for you to form a rule of your own. - Juho