What's that camera worth?

In the days before cameras went digital, there was a broad consensus of opinion as to the second hand value of particular makes and models. This judgment was immortalised in various publications known generically as Blue Books, which were normally updated annually, aimed at traders and extremely expensive to buy.

McKeown's is the most respected. The last edition was published in 2005/2006, can be purchased used via Amazon - and it's pretty damn expensive at a cost typically over £500. However, prices are likely to plummet, because there's a NEW edition on the way.

NB: The web page shown on the right was first published in about July 2015.
This new McKeown's is taking a very long time to compile.

I have a lesser Blue Book, published by Hove International (the Millennium edition). As a tool for the casual camera collector, it's pretty useless. The pages are populated with details of obscure cameras I've never heard of, will probably never encounter, and would not wish to own. For example, turning to a random page I am confronted by an Elop Kamerawerk Flansburg Elca II from 1950. Conversely, many more common manufactures and their models are completely absent; for example, there are a mere three entries for Fuji/Fujica, who began producing cameras in 1948.

More than that, the information on camera values in 1999 is now completely out of date; not so much due to inflation, but shifts in popularity. In short, an old Blue Book is about as useful today as a 127 roll-film camera.

eBay searchThe lack of an authoritative reference manual means that the answer to the question what's it worth? is literally - what someone is prepared to pay. Yet this isn't the dead end answer it might first appear to be.

One thing's for sure: the asking price of an item is not necessarily an indication of a camera's value. However, eBay can be used to research what buyers are actually paying. At the bottom of the eBay search filter menu, on the left of the page (see screen grab left), are the options: show only completed listings, and sold listings. If you can't find these, it's also an option in the advance search. Clicking the check box for sold listings returns those items sold within the past few weeks (sort of obvious isn't it?). Completed listings includes items that failed to sell (were too expensive).

The answer to the question is out there: it just takes little effort to collect the data. If you want something badly enough, then you may choose to pay more.

I've tabulated the price I paid for cameras in my collection (also on their individual pages), in the summary below: hopefully it demonstrates what's possible when you plan, wait and watch. Some of these models were inexpensive for a reason, but you'll have to look at the detailed information on each page to find out why.

The figures shown are net of postage (and I don't bid on anything with unreasonable postage costs), and some have been adjusted due to the resale of unwanted items in a bundle.

My collection summary Numbers Price
Minimum Average Maximum
Cameras 63 -£7.90* £6.93 £23.00
Lenses 17 £3.28 £9.44 £23.40

* where the re-sale of unwanted extras exceeded the initial cost of the item

Camera Price / Date Condition
Petri 7s -£7.90 / March 2014 Stuck winder
Voigtlander Vito B (large finder) -£1.05 / June 2015 FWO
Fujica ST601 -£0.70 / September 2015 FWO
Fujica ST901 (black) £0.00 / August 2014 FWO
Agfa Selectronic 3 £0.00 / August 2015 FWO
Ricoh 500G £0.00 / May 2017 FWO
GAF Memo 35 ET £0.99 / August 2016 Sticky shutter blades
Olympus Trip £1.04 / May 2013 FWO
Agfa Super Silette £1.20 / August 2013 FWO
Halina Paulette £1.20 / February 2016 FWO
A&K Arette Super P £1.21 / June 2014 No focus
Fujica ST705w £1.24 / November 2016 FWO
Pentax ME Super £2.30 / July 2015 FWO
Fujica ST605n £2.70 / May 2014 FWO
Agfa Optima Sensor Electronic Flash £3.31 / November 2015 FWO
Ricoh Auto 35 £3.70 / July 2015 Meter broken
Agfa Optima Sensor Electronic 335 £3.99 /September 2015 FWO
Yashica Minister D £4.00 / December 2013 FWO
Pentax Spotmatic F £4.20 / August 2013 Meter broken
Voigtlander Vito B (small finder) £4.95 / June 2013 FWO
Voigtlander Vito BL £4.95 / June 2015 FWO
Agfa Super Silette £4.99 / June 2016 FWO
Nikon EM £5.00 / June 2013 FWO
Voigtlander Vito IIa £5.00 / August 2013 Winder broken
Yashica TL Electro X £5.50 / February 2014 Meter broken
Fujica ST701 (black) £6.00 / April 2015 Various faults
A&k Arette 1Dn £6.39 / May 2014 Various faults
Beauty Lightmatic SP £6.51 / June 2015 Various faults
Fujica ST801 + Fujinon f/1.8 55mm lens £6.55 / April 2015 FWO
Topcon Uni + UV Topcor 35mm f/3.5 lens £6.99 / May 2013 FWO
Agfa Selectronic Sensor £7.21 /September 2015 FWO
Agilux Agimatic £7.50 / March 2014 Rangefinder broken
Fujica ST901 (black) + Fujinon EBC f1.8 55mm lens £7.50 / August 2014 FWO
Wirgin Edinex II £7.50 / October 2014 FWO
Topcon IC-1 Auto + Hi Topcor 50mm f/2 lens £7.50 / January 2015 FWO
Fujica ST901 (chrome) £7.78 / June 2013 FWO
Fujica ST701 + Fujinon f1.8 55mm lens £8.37 / January 2015 FWO
Agfa Solinette £8.40 / May 2016 FWO
Kowa E £8.49 / May 2015 FWO
Contax 137 MD Quartz £8.50 / 2012 FWO
Nikon Nikkormat EL £8.50 / November 2016 FWO
Fujica 35 Auto-M £8.99 / October 2014 FWO
Miranda RE-II £9.67 / June 2017 Minor issues
Canon Canonet £10.00 / November 2013 FWO
Fujica 35-EE £10.00 / February 2014 Various faults
Zeiss Ikon Contina IIa £10.49 / July 2013 Lens fungus
Minolta H-Matic 7s £10.49 / July 2014 FWO
Voigtlander Vitomatic I £10.50 / June 2016
Minolta XG-M £11.00 / December 2014 FWO
Beauty Beaumat £11.00 / March 2015 FWO
Canon TX £11.08 / April 2017 FWO
Praktica LTL £11.10 / August 2015 FWO
Beauty Lightomatic III £11.50 / July 2014 FWO
Beauty Canter 35 £12.20 / April 2017 Frozen focus
Yashica FX-D Quartz + Yashica 50mm f2 ML lens £12.50 / January 2014 FWO
Pentax KM £14.90 / December 2013 FWO
Miranda Auto Sensorex EE + Miranda E f1.8 50mm lens £15.49 / February 2014 FWO
Fujica Rapid S2 £15.79 / October 2015 Meter broken
Topcon Unirex + UV Topcor 50mm f/2 lens £16.10 / March 2015 FWO
Beauty Lightomatic £16.15 / July 2016 FWO
Graflex Graphic £20.00 / October 2016 No 2nd RF image
Minolta SR-T 101 £20.00 / March 2017 FWO
Contax 137 MA Quartz £21.65 / November 2014 FWO
Nikon FG (+ MD-E winder) £23.00 / September 2015 FWO