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Sunday, 23 October 2011


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Hi Mike,

I do know that a lot of people seem to collect solely to own lots of lenses. On some forums people own 250+ and I don't believe they can actually use all of them well. Makes it difficult for those of us looking for just one or two.

As an aside I watched the Goodwood Revival last weekend and one of the classic car grids was worth an estimated 100 million pounds! Maseratis, Lolas, E-types etc, and they were seriously racing, with a few bumps, crashes and blow-ups. They were built for racing and the owners were happy to add to the battle scars rather than keeping them polished in a garage.

best wishes phil

The collectable Lytro? Well there are many people in the UK who collect the much derided (and truly awful) Bond Bug. Note the parallels in terms of the claims made by the company's chairman.


Another brave new world dead in the water concept was this one...


This one as far as I know has no collectors whatsoever.

If the Lytro is a flop, the online sharing service will presumably die too and you wont be able to actually show anyone the pictures, which may dampen attempts to make it a collectable.....

I suspect the quick obsolescence of digital cameras has a negative effect on their collectability. Those old Leicas are still usable, even if the collectors choose not to use them. But 30 years from now today's digital cameras will likely be completely unusable because of changes in file formats and storage media. (That should not affect collectability, but I think it will.)

There's also the matter of the high number of models. Look at Lumix alone: the number of models available is mind boggling. Factor in the different brands multiplied by time (dozens of new models every year). 20 years from now the back catalog of digital cameras from the "early years" of the medium will be so vast that it will be hard to remember -- or care -- which ones "mattered."

Surely, modern cameras are just too plastic for collection? Of historical interest, but who wants to stroke one?

I think that there exists two basic types of collector: those that have a plan or interest; and those that accumulate.

I think it's possible that intent and focus come later, rather than being initial desires to collecting. I think the initial desire tends to be an interest or passion for a subject, which is then acted upon by many outside forces.

Influences include money, other collectors, availability, time or education. Each collection grows along personal lines, as each person learns more about their subject, decides how much of their personal resources they want to devote and how they want to use their collection.

@ed I still got my first digital camera (which takes 300k pixel). It still working because

a) it use AA battery
b) it use CF card (but only small one)
c) it use JPEG which I think it is ok

Hence I guess if you keep the card, use RAW+JPG and you should watch out for the battery.

@Ed again, for the many difference, that is great. In fact, the whole collection must be complete and hence the more difficult the better it is collectable. Only one Leica S2, what is the points. If it has 100 different skin S2, it might be different plus this S2 was given from this to that etc. Of course, it is a bit too expensive to play this way for S2, but for Olympus or Lum or all M3/4 from 1st to ... I can see the collection. It is crazy to collect lunch box, tin solider etc. anyway, but people did and hence I still think that is collectable.

@Walter not sure about your Australian stories but the price of old lens is actually going up not down as it can be used. The so call M8/9 play is precisely this so that at least some of those can be used (when the grand daughter around, just as the force dring Polaroid invention) Hence, not sure, what old camera and lens stock you have?

I'm not a collector I'm a photographer. Amateur true, but a photographer. Having said that I still possess every camera I have ever owned including those I have acquired but not used.
I think the difference is that I have only ever bought a camera in order to take photographs, not to put away and not use. Even those cameras I have which don't work I would like to bring back into use - admittedly I won't get rid of them if they're irreparable though.
I'm not a collecter, but I could become a hoarder if I'm not careful.

I have several cameras that would have been considered collectible, but I've put that much film through them all that they are probably not worth much, rather like the classic car racing example.
My impression of the collectable camera market is that it is peopled almost exclusively by old farts such as myself, and as they die off the young are not replacing them, so in my opinion, apart from some really rare cameras that will be bought by museums, collectable values will wane.

A further comment; some of the most valuable cameras are valuable because so few were made, sometimes because they were sales disasters, not all collectables are wonderful cameras, so if the Lytro is a total dud it could end up way more valuable as a collectable. As a counter point, most valuable collectables are good looking, like the old tropical reflexes in teak and brass, which could never be said for the Lytro.

I think the main issue is the number of models, yes; scarcity is what feeds collectability, surely.

Having said that I can see certain models reaching collectable status in a few decades' time: the Pentax *ist D, the Nikon D1, the D300, maybe the Canon 10D and the Fuji S1. I suspect some early digital cameras (such as the Kodak Nikon/Canon partnerships) are heading there already.

Their collectability though will be down to the number that survive; the Jupiter 8, for example, is not a collectable lens, but something made by Taylor, Taylor and Hobson at the same time might well be.

Regarding collection of the obsolete: what's the market like for 126 cameras, or for any of the formats that vied for prominence alongside 120? What about 110?

Maybe it is just me, but, I have no interest in collecting things that will one day be obsolete. By obsolete, I mean something that will not be repairable when it stops working. Advanced electronics have just about quashed the idea of anything being collectible in the future. I suppose, if you are a manufacturer,this is a good thing.

I think guitar enthusiasts flirt with the collector versus user syndrome more than photography folks.

Be it cars, motorcycles, photos, cameras etc it's hard to say what will be collectible. I really haven't seen an automobile outside of the exotics (include Corvette) come across as collectible since the 60's really.

Though many cameras are collected are any worth much outside the Rollei/Leica realms? As mentioned maybe the M8 and 9 will be collectible. I gathered a fair amount of Olympus OM gear at one point and outside the hard to find F2 lenses and the OM3 the rest can't be given away on the big auction site.

"Regarding collection of the obsolete: what's the market like for 126 cameras, or for any of the formats that vied for prominence alongside 120? What about 110?"

Like I say, I don't know.


Regarding 110 format, I don't know if there's much of a market for the camera bodies, but there's been a resurgence of interest in the Pentax Auto 110 *lenses* because they can be retrofitted for micro-four-thirds. (The 110 frame is almost exactly the same size as MFT.)

But that's the lenses, because optics are timeless and the only issue is the mount, and it's easy to machine an adapter (yay non-virtual!). Pentax Auto 110 bodies? Probably can't give 'em away.

Speaking of obsolete: I have a Tandy TRS model 100 rotting away in a closet here somewhere. Works fine, but essentially doesn't do anything. What's that worth? ;-)

I'm more of an accumulator of cameras. I look at weekly yard sales in my area and there is a lot of junk (there are soooo many plastic Polaroids out there).

One big problem is that many people check prices on eBay and either sell them their or are aware of prices and price items accordingly. You almost have to find an ignorant person who doesn't know any better (or care).

I like to find cameras that are unusual or look good to me. Mostly I don't put any film in them, though I will clean them as much as I can. I had the idea once of reselling them on eBay, but most really aren't worth anything.

It's not just scarcity or novelty that makes objects collectable -- it's the people, the story, and the company behind the object. The Apple I wasn't particularly novel but is now worth the price of a modest house. If Lytro becomes the Apple of computational photography, you could be right. If Lytro is a flash in the pan, the camera will mainly be of interest to science and photography museums.

A very different experience than Walter described in Sydney:

I use vintage & classic Rolleiflexes – my users date from 1934-63 – & occasionally check prices on xBay. For Rolleis, at least, prices have definitely risen, for some models doubling in the last year.

A local dealer in collectible cameras said it's because Chinese collectors have entered the market, driving prices updespite the recession.

Reminds me of the 80s, when people like Don Chatterton started exporting middle-aged Leicas to Japanese collectors, so that Poor Art Students could no longer afford one.


It's interesting, this also just came up in a woodworking blog I read, in an article about outfitting a workshop. Among the other guidelines the author gives is this little gem: "collecting tools is a different hobby from woodworking, don't confuse them".

LIke a lot of others it seems, I have a large collection of cameras, but I wouldn't class myself as a collector.

I suppose the difference is that I don't buy acquire (or retain) cameras because of collectibility, but because I'm just rather interested in cameras, their design, history and use. My Rolleiflex 2.8c is still a superb medium format machine that gets occasional use, but I also like to have it because of the way it's made, and because I like to know what it was like to operate with such a camera - likes of Ronis for example. Although I confess I was also using one "for real" in the 60's. Similarly with things like the Nikon F3 - I want to know what it is like to use such an icon of photographic history - maybe I like to imagine the bullets flying as well.... I have things like a Retina IIIc or Rollei 35 simply because of their mechanical beauty and ingenuity. (And also excellent photographic quality I should add). I kept all of my OM system because it formed a huge part of my photographic development - and I'd have kept it even if it wasn't a great system. It still gets occasional use, especially some of the lenses.

None of this is worth much money, but I guess it is a collection.

I have a relative which has a daughter who asked him to buy her an SLR to support her passion for photography (she's a teenager, and already had a rather decent camera, an Olympus E-420 but nevermind). She really liked taking landscapes.

So he bought an M8. And a 50/1.0 noctilux. Because he thought it would hold value and because of the Leica image.

I told him that he was crazy.


The biggest issue of digital camera collectors will probably be the batteries. Those will die sooner than the cameras, even when 'lovingly put away', as Mike calls it.

So pick it up after a couple of years, just to discover that it's no longer in working order, which is no good news for the camera's value. As all camera companies have different proprietary battery packs, which they also keep changing over time, it will be quite costly (if at all possible) to keep 'living' spare batteries at hand.

I think that the proper context for your thoughts on focusing can be found in Ctein's post from earlier this year.


Chinese collectors seem to have an insatiable appetite for English, French and German lenses.

TTH, Cooke, Ross and Dallmeyer (especially Super-Six) lenses are going for insane prices. Have a look at some of the ads on ebay.


That's priceless.

No one collects consumer electronics, which represents anything digital. If they do, they will probably end up on "Hoarders."

Hmzzzz, depends what you collect for. If you collect for value creation I wouldn't exactly collect digital camera's (or any of the battery driven gadgets we use these days). But if you collect because you love the history of these machines, well start collecting while they are cheap and enjoy you collection of useless but beautiful dustcollectors.

Personally I do not own things I do not use, it makes life a lot easier and less messy.

Greetings, Ed

Kind of reminds me of the VIew-Master I had as a kid. Can you spell Fisher Price ?

I think guitar enthusiasts flirt with the collector versus user syndrome more than photography folks.

And then there are the collectors who specify not only the model they want but firmly believe that only certain ranges of serial numbers are worth having. Sax collectors are notorious for this.

My wife calls my workshop my "tool museum". I guess I need to get some more sawdust on my tools.

The Onion article is priceless. My own rule of thumb is that any products whose packaging claims it's collectible isn't.

I toyed with the idea of collecting 70's compact rangefinders some years back after obtaining a couple and enjoying using them. Fortunately I lost interest by the time I did enough research to know a thing or two. I have a collection of dice - I like probability & statistics; dice are cheap and don't take up much room. But by and large, as I've aged, I've come to a point where I don't want to collect anything. Sure I have some quantities of stuff. I have a number of photo books, for instance, but I don't collect them. I buy books I want to read (or view in the case of photos). I've come to view collecting as an odd, detrimental endeavor.


As a vintage Nikon user, part of me wants to salute this man; another part feels sick.

"And then there are the collectors who specify not only the model they want but firmly believe that only certain ranges of serial numbers are worth having. Sax collectors are notorious for this."

That's nothing compared to record collecting....


"That's nothing compared to record collecting....


That's so true!



"The Apple I wasn't particularly novel but is now worth the price of a modest house."

No, but it *is* extraordinarily scarce, with only something like five known to exist in the wild. Apple went to a great deal of effort in the early days to get -I users to upgrade to the -II to avoid the expense and difficulty of supporting users of the -I. (Doubly so since 90% of the questions had to be referred to Woz.)

Just lost my entire, totally pristine 1980s record collection in a flood last month...

All things must pass, I guess.

That's terrible. Very sorry to hear it.



...as much as I always adored the Nikon F with plain prism (especially since I used to do most of my shooting in a studio under strobe), all I can think about when I look at that guy's web page is the $150.00 I spent on one body a few years ago to change out the crumbling foam and clean it...times how many?


...nearest I can tell, that's $16,800.00 for refoam and cleaning!

You'll find a dedicated forum for collectors and users of vintage DSLR cameras at www.nikonweb.com/forum

There's a growing interest in collecting digital cameras. Some of the earliest models are truly collector's items, or even museum pieces. Nikon's first filmless camera from 1988, for example: www.nikonweb.com/qv1000c

Disclaimer: I'm the owner and curator of NikonWeb.com. I don't consider myself a collector, but admit having cameras and other gear that I don't really need..

Hi Mike,
Two days before you posted this article on the 23rd I bought a 1936 Leica III in very good condition.....I am no collector but, I love using cameras old and new ! anyway I was inspired to write a short post on my own blog .....http://garynylander.blogspot.com/2011/11/1936-leica-iii.html


Hi Mike,

Here is a link to the famous Hemingway Leica that was up for auction, FYI it sold for $25,000.....https://tamarkin.auctionserver.net/view-auctions/catalog/id/3/lot/712/


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