Old photo gear can be worth money

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Any semi-serious photographer accumulates a collection of old photo gear. Some of it has become surplus to requirements, some of it is broken and not worth repairing or too difficult to get repaired in this country, and much has become redundant because you have changed camera systems, or even changed complete formats 6×6 to 35 mm or film to digital for example.

I found myself in that situation after purchasing a Panasonic Lumix Digital DMC-FZ50 (which is still delighting me). It took a year of deliberation (some might call it ‘hesitation’ or just plain ‘dithering’) before I made the fateful decision to: a) go digital and b) go Lumix, after more than 20 years of using Nikon exclusively.

Of course, some of you will ask why didn’t I stay with Nikon, with its full range of digital SLRs? Good question, and easily answered. The upper level Nikons are now very expensive, and whilst I had some excellent Nikon manual focus prime lenses, they were not going to be all that compatible with a new Nikon digital auto-focus systems.

That also brings in one of the salient reasons in the purchase of a Lumix – the fantastic 35-420 zoom lens made by Leica that comes with the Panasonic Lumix, coupled with the electronic anti-shake technology so you can hand hold, even at 420 mm. With digitals these days, I believe that you are best served with electronics from an electronic company, with lenses from an optical company. The Lumix definitely fits those two parameters.

Having made the irrevocable decision, I looked at my now defunct Nikon 35 mm film system. I had two cameras, a much loved FM2N, and an FA. The FM2N was the typical journalist’s workhorse with more rolls of film through it than I’ve had hot dinners, whilst the FA was the back up. Only thing was the FA was no longer working, having some kind of internal problem, by which the mirror was locked in the “up” mode.

The lenses were a 24 mm wide angle, old and growing its second crop of fungus (the first was cleaned off about five years ago), a 50 mm ‘standard’ lens and a 135 mm ‘portrait’ lens. I also had a spacer for macro work, which was also very old, but was the good one that still allowed the auto exposure function to work.

Quite frankly, as far as I was concerned, these items were now surplus and it was going to be very unlikely that I would ever use any of it again (although I would still take the FM2N out of its bag and lovingly stroke it every so often).

It was at that stage that a good friend of mine suggested I sell the surplus items, and said that he had excellent results selling items on eBay in the UK. He was returning to the UK himself and offered to sell them, and I thought, “Why not? I’m getting nothing for them sitting in the old camera bag.” He also suggested that I be brutally honest about the condition of the items.

He had been back a couple of weeks when I got the following email:

Watchers Bids £
FA 14 28
FM2N 39 65
Spacers 16 22
24 mm 40 108
50 mm 55 68
135 mm 17 34

That little lot came to 325 pounds sterling, which at current exchange rates is over 14,000 baht, which certainly made purchase of the Lumix a breeze (duty-free price).

What made the exercise even more astounding, was the number of ‘watchers’ who had been looking as the bids went in on eBay. 14 looking at a broken FA and someone who paid almost 1,200 baht for it. The lenses all went for very good money, though I would have thought the 135 mm would have been more desirable than the 50 mm, but the 24 mm did attract the highest bid, as I thought it would.

The moral to this tale, is to look at your old camera gear, broken or otherwise and clear out the cupboard and sell the items on eBay. You will get more than you ever imagined. Just be honest in the description!