Are film cameras worth buying

Analog cameras: how much are old cameras worth?

Analog photography is slowly becoming a trend again. And forgotten in the back closet or basement, there is still one or the other analog camera. Have these meanwhile a precious antique status or are they no longer worth anything? t-online.de asked an expert.

Pure, precise mechanics, high quality workmanship and the finest workmanship characterize the renowned brands to this day. But digital photography has wiped out its reputation - because you need films for it. They cost money and you have to have them developed. But a second look at the dusty cameras can be worthwhile: Because special models have their price with collectors. Quite a few rare cameras achieve four to five-digit prices at dealerships and auctions - but only if they are in top condition. The best: brand new with invoice and certificate.

Leitz and Hasselblad

Most of the former luxury and professional cameras are now available for between 100 and 900 euros. This even applies to cameras from reputable traditional companies such as Leitz in Wetzlar and Hasselblad from Sweden, which have been producing professional cameras in medium and full format for decades. >>

"In addition to the two, there are other brands that are very interesting for collectors. They include the Swiss manufacturer Alpa and some Rollei and Rolleiflex cameras," explains Heinfried Schmidt from Hamburg. The collector has been organizing camera fairs all over Germany for many years (www.kameraboersen.org), which have become the meeting point for serious dealers and collectors. Schmidt and several experts determine the value of cameras on site free of charge.

Previous "flops" can be valuable today

In addition to the brands that are still renowned today, "all cameras that have only been produced in small numbers are of interest," he says, "including not only technically complex special cameras, but also models that proved to be flops when they were launched, for example." So the problem lies in the detail. A small technical variant or an additional designation in the model name make the difference.

An example: The "Kine Exakta" camera series from the Dresden manufacturer Ihagee is considered the world's first single-lens reflex camera and was built between 1936 and 1948. The "Kine Exakta III" model was available in two versions: with a round and - very rarely - with a rectangular viewfinder. The model with a square viewfinder now costs around 1,000 to 1,400 euros, whereas the camera with a round viewfinder only sells for 140 to 160 euros today.

The famous Leica IIIc 35mm camera, which was built between 1940 and 1951, is available in a ready-to-use condition for as little as 250 euros - a bargain, because internationally renowned photographers have worked with it. But a model for the German Air Force with an engraved name is currently available for up to 5000 euros.

Record prices for "K" model

Another model in "Hector gray" built between 1940 and 1946 with a "K" for "ball bearings" in its name and slight technical modifications achieved prices between 28,000 and 70,000 dollars at international auctions. Long live the subtle difference.

These manufacturers are of little value

On the other hand, mass cameras that were offered in department stores, chain stores and catalog mail order companies have little value - including the vast majority of models from Pentax, Fuji, Ringfoto, Panasonic, Photo Porst and many more.

Anyone who finds a camera from a top manufacturer at home can search for the value on the Internet. But that is laborious and imprecise: There are only a few websites that list thousands of models with a seriously determined approximate price.

Reinfried Schmitt therefore advises consulting an expert. He is often commissioned to provide expert opinions if, for example, there are allegedly expensive cameras in an inheritance. For a reliable determination of the price, the Internet is only suitable as a rough guide. For him this is never the standard: "Second-hand models and collector's cameras need to be inspected. After all, the buyer wants to check the functionality and the external condition of the camera carefully before buying," he explains the claim.

The condition is one of the decisive factors

Touching is a must here: "Photos from cameras on the Internet arouse beautiful illusions, which unfortunately can often lead to misunderstandings and disappointments," adds the expert. In addition to the brand and model, the most important thing is the condition: Are dents, cracks or scratches visible? Is the back wall undisturbed and tight? Are parts or screws missing? Are the lens and viewfinder without scratches, streaks, dirt or fungus? Do the film transport, aperture and time settings and shutter release work perfectly? Are the interchangeable locks for the lenses in perfect condition? These aspects have a massive influence on the value of the camera: the price can be four to five times the price between an average-ready, refurbished and brand-new condition with a dealer guarantee.

Dealers buy at huge discounts

Schmitt emphasizes: "The price that we determine is the purchase price a collector would have to pay to buy a copy on the open market. In this assessment, national and international trends are taken into account to the greatest possible extent. Leave the camera to you but to a dealer, he will usually buy them at a discount of about 30 to 60 percent of this market value. " It is much more worthwhile to simply buy a few films from him - and take pictures with the camera again.