Are film gear going up in price - in the long term?

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by RaymondC, Dec 24, 2019.

  1. I have noticed that film gear equip are slowly going up in prices. What do you think will happen in the 5-10yrs time? Would it go up or would it start to fall back down?

    I shoot film gear occasionally and it's great that I can now afford to shoot esp the medium format gear, but I do shoot most with digital cameras. Not relating to the very sought after Hasselblad XPAN, or Mamiya 6 and 7's are crazy but just your modest RB67, 645 or Hassie body with a average lens or two kinda thing.

  2. Please insert: *"the for you more inconvenient answer"*
    You have none and want: Yes, total number of units alive decreases, so units for sale will decrease too and you might end in a bidding war with another lunatic...
    You'll want to sell? - *diabolic laughter* + bunch of value lowering arguments; last not least the need for / price of CLA issue.
  3. You know that any prediction is hard and may not be correct, but here is my prediction: The people who love film cameras will own the good ones and sell out the bad ones. So in the market, there will be more of the bad and the low-grade cameras, the mint and top cameras will be very rare. The bad cameras will be sold at a higher price, which is almost the recent price of good ones. So you may say the price is a little lower while it is actually a lot higher. And the mint top cameras will be almost impossible to get. There may be low-end, consumer cameras made new by Chinese (like Seagull "Hai-Au")
  4. I don't notice it.
    In Moscow, the 35 mm, once iconic cameras are dirt-cheap. Contax S2, once 1200 dollars (in 1995), now is pitiful 200 dollars in mint and working condition. So is the legendary FM2N and so on... Put on deposit 1200 dollars in 1995 would become 2500-3000 dollars now.
    Lenses never became an investment either. :(
  5. This is the same thing I see/notice about old Swiss watches, old pens, both ballpoint and fountain ones.
  6. Tony Parsons

    Tony Parsons Norfolk and Good

    Predictions are almost impossible, especially about the future.

    I frequently watch listings on fleabay for Pentax kit, because that is what I shoot, have done for a long time. May not be all singing, all dancing (mine can't even whistle) but it does what I want. However, some 'optimists' seem to feel that merely mentioning the manufacturer doubles the value of the item, or even just saying 'fits Pentax'. Fortunately (for me) there are others who know the true worth of what they are selling, and those are the ones with whom I deal.
  7. Fewer and fewer people have any interest in this stuff, so I can't see prices going up.
    ruslan and Jochen like this.
  8. Tony Parsons

    Tony Parsons Norfolk and Good

    Could have said the same about vinyl ten years ago.
  9. Nobody can predict what is going to happen in 5 to 10 years. If you see some camera you want but it now and use it. Worry about what it will be worth in 10 years in 2030.
    Jochen and Tony Parsons like this.
  10. I've been "in" the old film camera market (as a buyer) for a decade. During that time, there have been temporary upward trends, but the overall trend has been going down long enough for me finally to be able to afford my dream cameras like the Leica M3.

    As always, you have to look at prices actually PAID, not the prices ASKED. At the very bottom of the market, the default low price asked has raised, but 'catalog' value is not a selling price.

    As for things like Prakticas (belovéd of me), my long-ago-expressed opinion that "in 10 years they would be worth as little as I paid for them" has been fulfilled.
    charles_escott_new, AJG and Jochen like this.
  11. I agree to get now and don't worry.

    In general most things have gone down if you take brand new in-store prices. Exceptions are the Hassie XPAN, Mamiya 6 and 7's maybe, maybe the Contax T2 etc .. and Ricoh GR film cameras etc. and the Makina 67. Then my response would be yes they have gone up but how much more can they go? Do we take this upward trend line and it heads infinite?

    I have bought all my film gear second hand. My Nikon F100 is valued now lower than my FM2N. I suppose people might prefer a compact user friendly tactile experience. Maybe that is why they prefer the more portable medium format cameras as well esp the rangefinders ILCs. Having said that, even many of the Hassie lenses are not that much more than a RB67 lens. Your run of the mill, dime of a dozen Hassie lens might go for 2x to a RB lens and the RB lens is sooo affordable. $200US for a medium format RB lens under $300US for the latest version.

    One time I did look at the Leica M6 but I've noticed the prices have dropped down a bit also ....
  12. AJG


    Film cameras, like most things people collect, are generally a poor financial investment. If interest in film photography continues at a consistent rate, eventually supply and demand should enter into pricing as more older cameras will cease to function and repairs, especially of electronics, will be more difficult so that older cameras that work will probably increase a bit in value. Film cameras are still probably not the best choice for your retirement funds...
    ruslan likes this.
  13. I think you can assume film prices will go up forever!
  14. Audiophile here--wrote for Stereophile, Schwann Opus, etc. Yes, there is a real vinyl resurgence, as there is with film. However, most of the new vinyl users are buying the newer USB turntables, etc. There are no new film cameras (35mm and MF anyway) being produced. You can buy a new high-end amp and speakers if you want. I heard one of the $500 Chinese amps sounding pretty good.
  15. Probably a continuation of the current zero-sum game: prices remain sorta stable, but this is illusory in some respects. Depends on brands, models, focal lengths, formats.

    As others have mentioned. little by little the "bargains" in some desirable cameras/lenses have begun to dry up. Five years ago you could swing a dead cat and find a mint RB67 for relative pennies in any country. Today, the really clean and good RB67 kits are not so easy to find and not breadcrumb money when you do. Most of those are now located in Japan, which is a PITA if you're not fond of international purchasing hassles. Plenty of RB67 kit is floating around at bargain prices, but not in the condition that was common at those prices just a few years back.

    The Hasselblad market has come unglued, with prices all over the place. Some items have tanked in value compared to five years ago: if you're in the market for those particular items, its kid in the candy store time (i.e., 50mm CF-FLE lenses that typically went for nearly $1000 in 2015 routinely sell for half that now). OTOH, mission-critical parts like A12 magazines for 120 film just keep skyrocketing, common ordinary 80mm Planar CF standard lenses have inflated beyond all proportion, and Acute Matte focus screens sell for their weight in gold. Later-model CFi and CFe glass still commands a significant premium over CF or C.

    Classic manual-focus Nikon film gear is on a perpetual roller coaster. Bodies like F2AS and FM2N have finally begun to stabilize and drop back towards 2005 levels after rampant inflation this past decade, but asking prices on the more desirable lenses are still ridiculous. In these and many other cases, you can't simply dismiss the asking prices and look optimistically toward actual "sold" prices: the relationship between the two isn't cut and dried. A great many sellers of the good items are perfectly content to sit on them for months and years until they get near their ask, while "actual sales" at significantly lower prices are comparatively infrequent and almost always involve the now relatively rare "absolutely clueless stooge" seller. Finding those deals requires more determination and luck than most of us are blessed with.

    Stone cold collectible jewelry like Leica and Rolleiflex will likely never be bargains, despite the occasional great deal some might find on an M3 or 3.5C. Brands/models with no snob appeal or appreciable cult following will remain stable or maybe decline some more, although there isn't much further down some of this stuff can go before people just give it away free on the sidewalk.

    The two biggest, unpredictable factors that will dictate prices ten years from now are availability of proper repairs and availability of desirable films (the former perhaps most significant). Even today, repairs for classic cameras are no picnic. Jack-of-all-trades local techs who could do a decent job on almost any mechanical camera at reasonable cost have retired in droves. More and more, you need to ship the legendary mechanical beasts cross country or across borders to a dwindling number of increasingly expensive, prima-dona, elderly techs with attitudes and waiting lists to make you wince. A decade from now? I wonder just how many people will truly be willing to spend $700 every few years to CLA the sticky shutter in a $700 Hasselblad Planar (or if trained techs will still be alive to do the job).

    My take on the question? Buy whatever you want (and can afford) today, use the hell out of it, then resell it as soon as you decide you don't need or want it anymore. Unless its a Leitz 35mm Summilux Aspheric or Noctilux, or Rolleiflex 2.8F, don't even think of holding onto disused items for price appreciation: most vintage film gear will trend down, not up. Just be quite certain you're done with something before you sell: while prices will probably trend down long term, availability of the same item in the same condition if you change your mind a couple years later may not be the same. I still regret selling my RB67 kit at a loss six years ago when the market was dead and they were a glut: now I want another one, and can't find an example I like at a price I'm willing to pay.
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2019
  16. The price of used film gear follows the usual effect of demand vs availability. The asking price on auction sites is unreliable, and even the selling price depends on the demand for that item in a certain country or region. In general, only high end items are affected, and a very few of those will attain collector's status.

    Of the items I care to research, Hasselblad and Leica equipment is increasingly sparse at, and priced accordingly. This is partly because auction sites are more attractive to sellers than the price offered by these retailers. That said, Hasselblad and Leica gear is still viable in the digital age. While I look for things I can actually use, my kids think my film gear belongs in a glass case (or Goodwill Industries).

    I recently bought a small turntable preamp, when an acquaintance asked to digitize some irreplaceable vinyl records. Her amazing electronics had no recording output, and my turntable has not been used in 45 years.
  17. Affordable digital cameras exceed the image quality of 35mm film cameras by most measures. I realize that the definition of "affordable" varies, but if you add in the cost of film and processing, digital is going to be cheaper. It's probably also true of the smaller medium formats, - again depending on one's definition of affordable. I think a digital camera that can match the quality of a 6 X 9 negative is still going to cost you a bundle, but maybe I'm wrong.

    Still there are people like me who for various reasons enjoy using film and film cameras. It might be nostalgia. It might be the process of using film. It could be the film "look" or any number of other reasons. Part of the film resurgence though is just fad and that will fade. It might reappear some time in the future or it may not. For that reason I expect that in the long run film camera costs will drop. There will be some that will always be sought after. But some of the more pedestrian cameras that have recently enjoyed an uptick in interest will see their prices fall.
  18. THE Biggest reason to shoot film is that it allows you to print.
    There is no red-light, darkroom, equivalent in the digital realm.
    For THAT scenario, it is film or nothing.
  19. I don't worry about the prices of film cameras because I already have good enough film cameras to use for the rest of my life.
  20. Cameras are still pretty cheap, but lenses in general are not as cheap. Still, compare the capability you can buy in film equipment to comparable digital equipment, and film is a bargain, even for some higher end equipment (not considering Leica or Hasselblad for instance, but a lot of other stuff). If you want to take pictures, film is very cost effective, even considering the cost of film and development. Capital outlay can be quite low (under $50 for a very decent 35mm SLR with a great normal lens). Decent digital starts at 10x that.

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