Finding a collector’s camera, vintage camera, or old camera by any other name is simple. They are out there, just decide if you want this or that, and pay the price.
Pay the price? What price? Is it a value price, bargain price, decent price, or you are being hosed?
On the flip side, you have a camera. You want to sell it. How much is the right asking? eBay suggests a small fortune for the very same model you have, but the fish won’t bite. You’ve being offered a mere fraction of eBay prices.
You need a point of reference. Luckily, prices are there to be found. Some are readily available, some need digging for, and some are not worth the trouble.
No matter where you source the camera price from, actual prices largely vary by the camera condition and the seller’s eagerness. Moreover, there is a wide gap between selling and buying prices. Same as when you thought your car is worth so much, as it is ‘advertised everywhere’, but the dealer pays just a half of it; just to sell it the next day for the full ‘advertised everywhere’ price.
So, how much is a suit for an orphan?
As you are already here, lets begin with the obvious. When this is written, this website contains tried and verified camera prices for over
15,000 27,000 different models, and growing. Prices are monitored daily through freely available sources. All it takes to get it together is time and a bit of lunacy. While lunacy we have in ample supply, time invested here is so vast, just assume it is measured by years.
But don’t take our word for it. Look further.
Run an online search on camera price, and on top of Google you’ll find Collectiblend.
It is huge undertaking, offering both cameras and lenses through two different sections. It was here since before we began the ClasCam Project, is easy and fast to search, and with each brand and model it offers almost as much specifics as we do. Copy is short, just the bare facts. We have no knowledge of how and when prices are / were collected, but nevertheless it is a prime source of good information.
Before the ClasCam Project came alive, we had used Collectiblend as a prime source to price vintage cameras. But we needed a control group.
The Bible of the used camera trade is the book known as the McKeown’s, by Grand Priests James and Joan McKeown. The best analogy to it could be the love child of the London Telephone Book with War and Peace. It has the magnitude of both combined. Throw in some cynicism to spice it up, and you’ll get the idea. It holds some 40,000 entries, volumes of photographs, and reasonably decent index.
It also has two general disadvantages and one personal peeve:
It costs a good amount of money, and used late additions are hard to find. Moreover. the latest edition is a good ten years old.
Our take on it – for some models it goes on and on, while others are barely mentioned. Further, the indexing system is not persistence and there are some duplication within the same brand entry. Or, we might be wrong and simply don’t get the indexing.
Another source is the Hove International Blue Book. Not sure if Hove is an international company or it is the world-wide blue book, but that’s besides the point. It is a modest
undertaking compared to both above. The current edition is the 14th, printed in 2003. Seems it belongs to a family of guide books, photography and otherwise. Could not find much as hovebooks.com returns a suspended domain.
There are several issues with this book, apart from the creative pricing system. There are fewer brands mentioned, and in these brands contain even fewer entries. There is more information in its appendices, but nothing that is not available on line.
The maxim of this book is future value, and recommendations as to which cameras are worth collecting. It is a tall order, as it borders with guessing on one hand and wishful thinking at the other. So we decided to test its suggested current and future future prices, against the Bible.
Doing so, we also compared Collectiblend prices, and while at that, ours too, using the Bible prices as a yardstick.
Please see the graph below, comparing 800 models from Hove’s, picked at random:
The ‘X’ axis is the number of camera models at the given variation from McKeown’s, and the ‘Y’ is the deviation from McKeown’s. 100% is same as McKeown’s suggested price, and the rest are the deviations percentage either up or down. Not the actual camera price, but how much it differs from McKeown’s.
Next, see same with Collectiblend values:
Looking at the visualization, what comes to mind is that Hove’s and Collectiblend prices nicely match McKeown’s, where about 90 brands out of 800 precisely match McKeown’s’ figures. Moreover, as marked by the orange rectangle, Hove’s suggests 420 camera models to be within three columns right and left of McKeown’s prices, and at Collectiblend 460 models are there.
About half of the 800 cameras sampled are very close to McKeown’s and to each other.
However, while Collectiblend curve flows neatly and naturally, Hove’s is less so. Hove’s Deviations are all-over the place. What it means is that the editor did not excel in researching the facts, or that he/she might have smoked something potent.
Now, looking at our prices compared to McKeown’s:
Note that we are completely out. The bulk of our models – 577 out of 800, are far left to McKeown’s prices, presenting much lower values.
Not sure where come the deviation from. Our prices were derived from over
60,000 95,000 actual sales transactions, so we can vouch for the quality of our figures. You may draw your own conclusion from the information contained here.
For good measure, please see the combined deviations graph:
To take it further, we dumped Hove’s as a reference point, and analyzed same factors with a sample of 3,000 different camera models selected at random. Here are the results, where as before, the baseline represents McKeown’s values, and the entries are deviations from it, not camera prices.
What is immediately noticed, is that Collectiblend curve is erratic, while our curve is relaxed. Values peak at different zones, both in deviation and quantity. Please draw your own conclusions.
Other collector’s camera price sources
There is one more book we looked at, and elected to ignore it altogether: McBrooms Camera Bluebook. This book is somewhere between disgrace and pathetic, looks and presented like a science project of 3rd graders. Don’t bother.
Other books are available, but for pricing purposes neither is of any good use.
Sources above, as well as this site, are dedicated to old camera pricing. All offer some basic additional information, just quick facts. There are other sites where you can get prices as off-label benefit. None will be as comprehensive and easy to retrieve as any of the above, but may give you a further price indication.
eBay – search for a product, and than tick the ‘Sold listing’ check-box under ‘Show only’.
This will return actual sales, but likely only for popular models, and only for the immediate past few months. This is one of our sources, where we continuously and religiously gather data over several years.
David Nosek camera price directory shows brands and models galore, but prices are few. A searchable CD is available for 50 Euro .
KEH Camera – drill-down forms offer prices on most popular and some less so models. Same is suggested for the price they would buy for.
Pacific Rim Camera offer tons of cameras for sale, and do a superb job in the description. You may find suggested prices on their current offering, so you may need to revisit the site if you can not find the model you’re looking for. Their website is Byzantine, but serves the purpose. Not sure about the name, as they are in Oregon.
Above two prices are offer current prices, not reflecting actual past transaction, but both a good grip on market prices.
Auctions houses, such as Westlicht, Photographica-auctionen or Live Auctioneers present results of past auctions in an easily searchable format. You may need to register to access the realized prices. They tend to deal with rare and high-end cameras, no Mirandas or Minoltas there.
Above auction houses’ sites are pleasure to go through. Well presented, accurate and meticulously organized. There are others, such as Antique Reporter, down under in Oz that require a fee to view past auctions; and Special Auction Services that could be better organized and watch the spellchecker more often.
Directories such as Photographica-world, offer kind of pricing in a list format. Format could have made more sense and easier in the eye.
A note about this site – the ClasCam Project came into being as we could not fully trust any of the sources above. Any price stated there could be good at a certain point of time, not dynamic as we wanted it.
While working on it, we decided to offer our data to the public. There are several ways to retrieve data, as shown on our home page. We believe this structure is the friendliest, but if you have a different view or suggestion will be glad to hear it. You may look at the help page for clarifications.
Moreover, you have probably noticed that elsewhere prices are suggested as a range, rather than one value. For example – others suggest range of say $150 – $200, while we suggest a plain $180. It takes exactly a minute to get our database to churn out such variations, but as prices are offered as indication only it really makes no difference.