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Buying a camera as an investment
Old 1 Week Ago   #1
AlexBG
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Buying a camera as an investment

Asking for a friend (really am) he bought a Hasselblad 503 2 years ago and now it's worth triple the price, I nearly bought a Contax T3 3 years ago for £250 but thought it was too expensive so got a TVS instead!

He is now looking for other cameras to use (very rarely) but also knowing that they will be worth more in a few years. Top of his list is a Nikon F3 currently.

Anyone else got any ideas of what to get?
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Old 1 Week Ago   #3
rbsinto
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Everybody does what they do (RBSinTo's Law), but in my opinion buying cameras as investments make as much sense as buying toasters as investments.
In my opinion they're tools for taking photos or making toast and nothing more.
I have and use ten bodies including a re-issued Nikon S3 rangefinder which some saw as an investment. As soon as mine arrived I threw film in it and have been shooting with it ever since.
And When I or my heirs sell my gear, if they make a dollar or two that will be a bonus, but if, as I suspect there is a loss, I or they will consider it the cost of my enjoyable hobby.
Robert
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Old 1 Week Ago   #4
mpaniagua
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Camera equipment, like everything else, its subject to offer and demand. Leica equipment had a rice on price/value due to high demand from Orient countries (I've recently sold lots of Leica equipment to China and Japan).

Probably could suggest cameras that are niche and don't see much trading, like Hasselblad SW or pristine Rollei SL66.

Probably Leica lenses? They often increase on price and very seldom drop on value.


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Old 1 Week Ago   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete B View Post
Pentax 6x7?
With 105mm f2.4

Pete
Just sold my kit, 6x7 with 105 and 5 other lenses on ebay for something like $900.00. Having been using that much. Honestly though I could get much more but oh well.

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Old 1 Week Ago   #6
css9450
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexBG View Post
He is now looking for other cameras to use (very rarely) but also knowing that they will be worth more in a few years. Top of his list is a Nikon F3 currently.
There are lots of nice F3s available at attractive prices, including many that look like brand new. Does he really have much to suggest prices are going up?
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Old 1 Week Ago   #7
Spanik
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Camera ? Investment? In the same sentence?
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Old 1 Week Ago   #8
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I would get one of those gold-plated Russian Leicas, those are going to be worth tons one of these days.

The trouble with consumables as investments it they may not be "liquid" when you want them to be.

In the short-term you may be able to break even or close to it when testing out several cameras to see what you like, then selling the stuff you don't, as long as the camera market has not tanked. But that is not investment.

My sense is that demand for quality film cameras may hang on for a while, the population of good ones decrease due to simple attrition, so the supply/demand numbers are positive. Maybe.

To me, an investment should make around 10% a year. Will you see that with any camera?
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Old 1 Week Ago   #9
valdas
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spanik View Post
Camera ? Investment? In the same sentence?
Exactly. There could be some exceptions - collector items or items that are subject to unpredictable hype. As good bet as anything you do in one of Monte Carlo casinos.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #10
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Look for a Leica limited edition like this: http://www.profifoto.de/neuheiten/20...-mp-blaubeize/

Only 10 available...
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Old 1 Week Ago   #11
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By the time you pay the eBay fee (10%), PayPal fee (3%), and postage, you need to make about 15% to break even. I'd be very happy to break even should I decide to sell any of my cameras or lenses.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #12
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I have to say, from personal experience, that unless you have a lot of money to buy the very best you will probably lose your shirt. Cameras are tools but there are some rarities [Nikon 1 RF, the Leica Reporter, Leica 0...] that demand big prices, a Nikon F3 is not one of these. Of course there are some exceptions even with the F3 but you have to know what you are doing.

My kits are things that I enjoy and despite the up and downs of the market I own what I enjoy. If the prices are down then it means I can purchase items I've wanted at more reasonable prices.

Tell your friend to look into the very early American gold, silver & copper coin market for investing, & always buy the best you can afford.
Good luck...
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Old 1 Week Ago   #13
David Hughes
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Hi,

Trouble is, you can't guarantee anything; prices go up and down. Look at the Olympus Trip 35's f'instance. Not so long ago they were cheap, then the price went up and up and now a lot are being sold off and the prices are dropping. Same for anything unless you are lucky when you buy and luckier when you sell...

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Old 1 Week Ago   #14
ptpdprinter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rbsinto View Post
....in my opinion buying cameras as investments make as much sense as buying toasters as investments...
It comes as a complete shock to me that there are currently 438 used toasters located in the US on eBay. There were 184 in the Sold listings, including a Modern Maid built-in 4 slot toaster that went for $400, so there must be a real used toaster market. None that I saw had red dots though.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #15
Richard G
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The price of used film cameras has gone up and will probably go up a little further. But this is no field for investment. The Nikon F3 is a great camera. I picked up a very late almost mint one a few years ago for my daughter. I paid too much for it but it didn't matter. They had a very long production run and were very solidly built for professionals and as already mentioned, there are lots around in good condition. I can't think of a worse investment therefore.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #16
ColSebastianMoran
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Enter the lottery for the next limited edition re-issue.

Find a misunderstood classic at bargain price.

Use camera to earn a living.

I might bet that some classic lenses from the film will continue to appreciate.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #17
BillBingham2
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Investments are about the exit strategy. How liquid do you need the invested cash to be?

B2 (;->
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Old 1 Week Ago   #18
Robert Lai
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Cameras are not investments! They are tools. Granted, some of them are made much better than others, and cost more from the outset. My Starrett tap wrench for example. When you pick it up and look at the machining, you can tell this is real American workmanship! However, I expect to lose money if I ever sell my stuff. Why? Because I use it, and even the most careful use will show some signs of wear.

I was reading through my Nov. 1954 issue of Modern Photography, and in there I saw a nice ad for the "Robot Royal". So I did an ebay search and CR*P these cameras are expensive. I don't know how you would even get prints from these, as they have a square format on 35mm film. It's a spring wound motor drive camera, similar to the Leningrad. Oh, the Leningrad seems to have developed a cult following too.

Now that I've become a bulb flash addict, I've been looking around for some nice looking bulb flashes. The most expensive ones are the Graflex ones. The reason is that Star Wars addicts are taking them apart to make "Light Sabers" out of them. Due to their destructiveness, the supply of decent Graflex flash units continues to dwindle. Heiland units are a distant second. The Star Wars addicts just want the D cell battery handle. They don't care about the rest.

The rest of bulb flashes are dirt cheap. Especially as most of the battery capacitor units have dead capacitors. It's easy enough to open up the packaging and resolder a new capacitor, but it is work. I've got some nice new looking units that work like a champ, for less than the price of a meal at McDonald's. Even the Leica CEYOO is inexpensive. I just picked one up for $25, and everything looks pristine. (I may have paid a bit more than usual due to the fine condition).

With real estate, everything is location, location, location.
With "collectables", everything is condition, condition, condition.
You will never get top dollar unless the condition is new, untouched. A total waste of money to purchase a camera and never use it, in my view.

The F3 will not become collectable unless someone takes to making new circuit boards for the LCD meter panel. Once that panel goes and there is no further meter readout, there is no replacement. It's not just as simple LCD panel swap. The panel is soldered on a circuit board. Nikon got rid of all their spares of F3 parts when they decided that the 10 year support time was up.

My view, if you want something that will endure in value, get:
Fully mechanical, minimal electronics.
Flash synch preferred.
Metal, minimal plastic.
Cult item from some movie (eg. the Graflex battery holders and Star Wars)
Spring wound motor drive e.g. Leica MOOLY, Leningrad, Robot

That pretty much sums up the film cameras that most of us have been hoarding already.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #19
aizan
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go to westlicht auctions and tell me photography equipment can't be an investment. you have to go deep into camera history, though. a lot of the information is not on the internet.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #20
Bill Clark
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I don't own any cameras as an investment only, other than they were used in my business.

For me, I started in 1973, with little money, investing in the stock market. After about 10 years I sometimes would think, "is this ever going to amount to anything?"

It has. It now provides me with a nice retirement. Sure, I have invested in a few companies that went belly up. Even with that, my prudent investing has rewarded me quite well.

Compound interest is the first wonder of the world. Most don't realize it.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #21
PKR
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Invest in gold or bitcoins ..

I think Nikon made the F3 until 2003? Someone here will know. That means there are lots of them. Good for folks who still use them; but probably a bad place for investment money.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #22
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Cameras are lousy investments. However, some cameras go through fads when the economy is good, and their values can climb temporarily as interest in them increases, but then their values plummet when the bottom falls out of the economy and "investors" look to liquidate their collections. Remember, all prices are subject to supply and demand, and when there are lots of buyers with disposable income looking to buy something that catches their fancy, prices will rise; but as soon as the economy goes sour the ones who aren't camera nuts will look to sell, and the economy being bad, there won't be a lot of buyers, so prices just implode. This happens with collector cars, guns, antique furniture, and lots of other things that people buy when they have extra cash.

So, if you want to buy a camera, buy it because you want it, not because it is some sort of magical investment that will make you rich. It won't unless you want to run a business, in which case cameras are a terrible business because your competition is in every smart phone for sale right now. There are ways to run a business as a lifestyle, which has worked for Lomography or that really big Italian eyeglasses manufacturer, but it is difficult to pull off unless you are a wizard with marketing. But, hey, you might be a marketing wiz... if you are, you can do almost anything in business, so have at old cameras.

Good luck, and I wish you success.

Scott
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Old 1 Week Ago   #23
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You never know the direction things will turn. Twenty two years ago I made a smart purchase of an essentially new IIIG with 50 Summicron for $500. The maker was hot with Japanese collectors. Through a broker I sold the body for $2000 and the lens for more than I paid for the entire package. I made money because I bought it super cheap and it was in new condition. Look at the market today. You'd be lucky to make anywhere close to that today.

About ten years ago I thought about buying some rarer Leicas as investments. I found several nice 250 FF and GG bodies and a couple of dial and rim set model B's. I didn't buy but in Estes the money in stocks. If I'd bought the Leicas is make possibly 10-20% or so but have seriously beat that with stocks. Stocks are a crap shoot too. I had a lot of oil stocks three years ago. No one would have expected oil to plummet and stay there but it did and I had stocks go from over $30/share to less than 5 cents. I bailed early but lost way into the six figures. That's life.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #24
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Gold is not an investment, it is insurance.

Quote:
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Invest in gold or bitcoins ..
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Old 1 Week Ago   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexBG View Post
Asking for a friend (really am) he bought a Hasselblad 503 2 years ago and now it's worth triple the price, I nearly bought a Contax T3 3 years ago for £250 but thought it was too expensive so got a TVS instead!

He is now looking for other cameras to use (very rarely) but also knowing that they will be worth more in a few years. Top of his list is a Nikon F3 currently.

Anyone else got any ideas of what to get?
Just stick to Leicas. They're the make that attract the most collector interest, and it has always been an enduring interest. There are some other types of cameras with the potential to rise in value, but, I like to shoot with some of them. I'm not about to encourage any further price rises by recommending any of them for their "investment potential". Between the shooters and the collectors (one can, of course, be both), prices are ticking along quite nicely, as it is.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #26
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Buy the nicest condition second hand Leica lenses you can find and afford. M lenses first, then R, then LTM.

Get a body to use them on while you have them. I'd stick to M2, M3, M4, M6. Pick a nice one and use it. Don't buy limited editions. If you find a BP M4 you might make more money on sale than the others. Condition is paramount.

Personally I'd just buy a 20 year old Rolex Sub or GMT and an M2 with a 35mm chrome over brass Summicron and be happy. I'm still looking for the Summicron
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Old 1 Week Ago   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sarcophilus Harrisii View Post
Just stick to Leicas. They're the make that attract the most collector interest, and it has always been an enduring interest.
Very true and bearing in mind some of the other greats, rather sad.

However you need to know what you are doing and that means detailed study and understanding of what's what. For example some Leica items, however rare, do not fetch big money. Some are more popular than others.

Also, small gains can easily be wiped out by selling and transaction commissions and the very thought of sending the thing for a service will wipe out any hoped for profit very quickly.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #28
David Hughes
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Hi,

Just looked in an old 1939 magazine and I see that the Leica IIIb with a Summitar cost £45-11s-0d. (That's £45.55 in funny money.)

Now looking at https://www.measuringworth.com and they tell me that the 1939's cost is now the equivalent of from £2,454.00 to £15,260.00 depending on what you are measuring it against but that's just to get your money back. As an investment you'd need (say) 5% on top of that every year for about 75 to 80 years...

Do I need to do that sum to make my point?

Regards, David

PS The 1939 magazine cost a shilling and that nowadays would be the equivalent of about 3 to 17 UK pounds plus interest, of course.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aizan View Post
go to westlicht auctions and tell me photography equipment can't be an investment. you have to go deep into camera history, though. a lot of the information is not on the internet.
Like I said - any collectable item can be an investment, but it is not specific to cameras. The investment type is "collectors items", be it toasters or cameras, not photography equipment that serves the primary purpose of taking pictures. You don't buy just any current retail item to turn it into collectable (like OP considers F3).
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Old 1 Week Ago   #30
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My father used to say 'you don't make your money when you sell, you make it when you buy'. So whatever it is you choose to 'invest' in, make sure you get it for a cheap price. eBay, Craigslist etc isn't going to do it - look in newspapers, yard sales, estate sales for deals. Buying entire collections from an estate might help in securing a good purchase price (I've done that because there were a couple of valuable cameras in the mix). I also used to cruise KEH for bargains about 8-10 years ago and snapped up some real gems - Luftwaffe Leicas for a few hundred dollars, ones that supposedly didn't work but really did, and other items that they mis-identified. Not so much from them now.

I'd go for German equipment - Leica, Zeiss, Rollei. Buy low, sell high.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #31
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Cameras made for the consumer market are seldom a money-making investment.

I have bought and sold many cameras and lenses over the years.
I can count on one hand the number I have made any profit on.
To be fair that was never my aim in acquiring any one of them.

Though they may not appreciate some cameras and lenses retain their value better than others;
Leicas are a good example in many cases.

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Old 1 Week Ago   #32
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One word - just one word: Rolleiflex
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Old 1 Week Ago   #33
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Buy stocks in a camera company as an investment, if you want to call it that. Buy cameras to use. Buying stock in Home Depot or Lowe's is usually a good prospect. Buying the tools contained in the stores as an investment is not. They are tools. Use them.

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Old 1 Week Ago   #34
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Ummmmmmm...........no.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #35
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looking into my crystal ball, i would say that nostalgia for early digital cameras will take off in a few years (because the market has matured and it's getting boring; dpreview has been doing throwback thursday for a year), and people will scramble for ones that still work. scour the camera timeline on dpreview to find candidates:

olympus e-1
konica minolta a2 (and other 2/3" sensor bridge cameras: sony f828, olympus c-8080, etc.)
ricoh grd, gx-200, rdc-7
sony r1, tx5
nikon coolpix 990, d2h
olympus c-5050
canon s90, a80
pentax optio s
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Old 6 Days Ago   #36
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I agree with the majority of posters. In my own experience, Parker pens or Kuomintang banknotes bring better returns than cameras. My ex partner collected old perfume bottles for 20 years. After we split they went on Ebay and sold for 500% to 1000% profit. So go figure.

If I had my druthers on camera buying for profit resale, I would go with the Rolleiflex. One of the finest cameras ever made. As a camera, Rolleis are like fine old watches. Those who disagree usually mean they didn't bond with the camera (not everyone does) and couldn't adjust their minds to shooting with it. As collectables they are like gold, that is IF you buy and sell them at the right time.

Of course the trick of all buying for "investment" (a loaded word) is to know when to sell.

I had a pair of superb 2.8Fs in my camera safe but had to sell in late 2007, when the Rolleiflex market in Australia was down. I lost about 40% on the sale. If I had to redo this now, I would post them on Ebay for global sale, but at the time I needed some fast cash to plug an emergency 'hole' in our business, so they went to the only buyer who could pay on the spot.

One lives and learns.
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Old 6 Days Ago   #37
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It's easy to say what cameras one should have HAD for profit - I think the three crowns Leica IIIg would have been ideal - but what WILL escalate in price compared to what HAS is a much trickier question.

http://collectiblend.com/Cameras/Lei...3-Crowns).html

As others have said, cameras which are/were well respected, are likely to work (and keep working) and are reasonably rare are the preferred for escalation in price.

That said, my preference is cameras that work, are likely to work, and will NOT escalate in price - because they are cheaper to buy a user camera. In that group, early 1960's Pentax cameras are very cheap for their functional capacity, as are quite a few of the earlier plate cameras (easy to make use of with film and a plate adapter).

Anything Leica compatible - either lens or camera - is expensive for the level of function compared to SLRs. As one example, I have a 1936-7 Kine Exakta (probably made early 1937 but maybe late 1936) - in other words an example of the first popularly available 35mm SLR, made 9-10 months after the start of production. I could not have bought ANY Leica, in any condition, for the price of that camera, let alone a Leica within the first year of production.

So overall, Leica is a decent bet, but apart from exotic rarities money in a term deposit is probably the more reliable investment.
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Old 6 Days Ago   #38
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Scrambler (#37), how much is that Exakta of yours worth on the sale market today? I am curious...

I know someone who had one and put it up for sale about a year ago. It was passed in on Ebay at A$500.00 starting price and it then went to an auction in Melbourne but was returned unsold. Not sure of its condition or other fine details of how much my friend paid for it etc etc, but it appears there was no interest at all from buyers at the time. Somewhat of a bummer if one needs quick cash.

As someone else wrote, the key to success with investing in cameras is to be able to realise a sale quickly if need be. Which tends to shrink the buying market somewhat.

I found this out in 2007 when I had to sell two Rolleiflex 2.8Fs at a loss.

My decision at the time was "never again". I now use all my gear, and when I do decide to sell (more so to reduce the load than to realise a profit) I try to price at a level that pleases both the buyer and seller. On some occasion this means I've made a bit of money (Hasselblad 500CM, Fuji GA645i), at other times I've lost a bit (almost every other camera I've sold, also my old 'blad Zeiss 50, 150 and 250 lenses). In the end it all evens out, more or less.

True, I do better with putting my spare money in a high interest account and my backup funds in a longer term investment account with a reliable (yes, there are some) bank. But that isn't as much fun as playing with cameras, is it?

Last edited by ozmoose : 6 Days Ago at 02:23. Reason: Added new text (I always do)
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Old 6 Days Ago   #39
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About 200 Aud ($160USD) with 1937 uncoated Zeiss Tessar 50mm lens. So pretty much FSU territory in Leica prices.
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Old 4 Days Ago   #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rbsinto View Post
Everybody does what they do (RBSinTo's Law), but in my opinion buying cameras as investments make as much sense as buying toasters as investments.
In my opinion they're tools for taking photos or making toast and nothing more.
Well put. The comparison to toasters is apt.

In the 1960s, the Diana was a toy camera, given away as promotional items or sold very cheap. Some forty years later, LOMO was in vogue, and I saw them selling for $100 on eBay. I bought one for $7 and a friend was amazed that I scored such a deal. Fast forward to now, and they're down in the $10 to $20 range for a used one.

Cameras have no intrinsic value. Mass market cameras are by definition not rare. When the utility of the camera is factored out, what is left? Compare the value of the old folding cameras that take 116 film, or 828 film to those which take 120 film or 35mm film. The big notable exception is the Kodak Bantam Special, which is a beautiful and not plentiful camera (worth $100-$200). Compare the Univex Mercury (35mm in proprietary film spools) to the Mercury II (35mm in conventional spools). The Mercury II is worth more because it's still useful.

What will the useful cameras be worth when they are no longer useful as cameras (film is no longer made)? The answer is hard to predict across the board, but I think we've seen what has happened now that digital is popular. The only cameras that have retained value were already rare, or professional cameras like medium format rangefinders and slrs, Leicas, Alpas, and specialized cameras like Linhofs, Horseman, Goersi, etc.) The once-prized 35mm SLR can be bought by the sackful.

Look at the rare camera auction sites for an idea of what camera would be a good investment.

Personally, I'd go for the submini TLRs like the GemFlex since they're rather rare already, and a dead (enough) format, plus they're small.

Finally, as we know, some cameras have become fashionable for awhile, skyrocketing in value, then settling down. It would be vital for the investor to recognize a good opportunity to sell. An uninterested heir would probably not get a good return because they would be liquidating at the wrong time.
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