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Why 90% of the value in a Film camera is in condition?

Disclaimer: In the summer of 2020 we secluded ourselves in a basement during lockdowns to record 15 episodes of a Camera Rescue Basic Course. We managed to do 6 videos and then the time of Nicos visit was over. Years passed, footage got stuck in harddrives and the basic Course never got ready.

Now in 2023 I found some of the old episodes that were easy edits and decided to share them! The content therefore might have some oddities, but it is still worth sharing. In this one we go over what had changed in the Film Camera value market globally in the past 15 years and why nowadays 90% of a film cameras value is in its condition.

Video in article format:

Welcome to the Camera Rescue Basic Course!

Today we will be talking about a very important issue that affects the value of film cameras - the condition. In this article, we will explore why 90% of a camera's value is in its condition, and why this is especially important in today's market.

So, why is the condition of a camera so important?

This is the main question we will be answering in this article. To illustrate this, we will use two Bronica cameras as an example. Both cameras may look the same physically, but one may be worth nothing while the other is worth a significant amount of money. The reason for this is that one is broken and the other is in excellent condition. You may be thinking that 90% is quite a rough estimate, but we will explain why this figure is accurate.

Collection is dead:

The main reason why condition is the key factor in pricing a camera is that the market has completely changed since 2006. The era of collecting cameras has died out with the internet. This has resulted in a shift in the value of historical cameras, which now mainly have ornamental value or historical value for the photographic community.

In the video we showcase two books - the Hope International Blue Book and the actual bible of cameras, the McKeown Cameras 12th edition. The latter book is a collector's item that provides historical values for cameras, with the last edition being published in 2006.

These books have lists of cameras and their prices before digital photography became a thing. They were the guidebooks of collectors - people would buy items based on the value in the books - not the value of actual sales on the internet.

The collection hobby has died out because of an different type of digital transformation than the one in the cameras - search engines. Now almost any basic camera in the world is always available, so collecting is much less a question of time and effort to find the hidden gems - it is a question of how much money you have to spend. That made collecting less exciting and therefore the value of a camera is very rarely valued by its collection value anymore, but by its value in use.

Digital came, but film photography made a comeback

With the advent of digital cameras, there was a shift away from film cameras. But in recent years, there has been a resurgence in the use of film cameras, with photographers wanting to achieve a specific look and feel that is unique to film. As a result, usable cameras are in high demand.

So why is there such a big gap in value between user cameras? This is mainly due to the difficulty in finding repair options. In Europe, there are only a few reputable places to repair a camera, while most countries have almost none. While the situation is better in the US and Japan, repair costs are still expensive.

When a camera is broken, there are essentially three options - do it yourself, find a self-taught repairman, or send it to a reputable repair shop.

Your options to get a non working camera to use again:

The first option, doing it yourself, is only recommended for minor fixes such as light seals or minor cleaning. Actual repairs require a long learning curve that most people do not have the time or talent for.

The second option, finding a self-taught repairman, is becoming more common due to the high demand for repairs. However, there are some issues with this option. Firstly, the repairman may be inexperienced and may not have the necessary testing machinery to ensure that the camera is accurate. Secondly, their practices may not be sustainable in the long run.

The third option, sending the camera to a reputable repair shop is the most expensive option, but also the most reliable.


In conclusion, the condition of a camera is the key factor in pricing a camera. With the resurgence of film cameras, usable cameras are in high demand, making the condition even more important. Finding reputable repair options is difficult, making it even more crucial to ensure that your camera is in excellent condition when you buy it. Because of this a camera in excellent condition is worth almost always 10x more than a broken camera.


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