Prices on Medium Format Film Gear

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by 25asa, Apr 27, 2021.

  1. 35mm has gone up a little bit, but the big price increases are on medium format film cameras. I was searching for a Fuji GW690 camera and last year it was selling for $400-500 Canadian. Now the junk cameras go for $500 and the better units $700-800. Pentax 67II cameras in the past 10 years have trippled in price. I bought my 67II a little less then 10 years ago for a little over $1000. Now its between 3000 to 4000 dollars. Older 67 cameras have gone up a bit as well, depending on which version of the original model you get (meaning its age). Other medium format film cameras also have gone up. I dont know whats fueling this price increase, other then millenials playing with film for the first time. Im glad I got my cameras when I did, except I just purchased both a GSW690 and GW690 cameras in the past couple months at current prices.
    alan_b. and Fiddlefye like this.
  2. I know what you mean. A few years ago I bought a Fujica GS645 and last Summer the film advance started acting up. I found a service manual and snapped a screw off in the process of disassembly, probably because it was left handed. Would have been nice if the service manual would have mentioned that.

    Could not find a part or even a suitable "as is" camera that I could use for parts without spending a small fortune. Then I considered looking for a "Texas Leica" instead but as you've said, prices have skyrocketed.

    I ended up finding a small enough tap that I could drill out the remains of the broken screw on my existing camera and rethread the hole. The head of the original screw had an usually large head that the take up film spool fits over. I used JB Weld over the top of a cap head screw to build it up to the right size and then filed it down to the proper shape. A lot of work to replace a damn screw.

    Anyway, the camera works again. If I didn't like it so much I could turn nice profit.

    Fuji/Fujica made some really unique medium format cameras. I keep searching on craigslist hoping another one will turn up for a reasonable price. No luck.
  3. I like the current interest in film cameras but I think 25asa is right about millenials fueling the price increases. I was just reading some old posts from 2011 and everyone was discussing how you could get a good condition hasselblad 500cm for less than $1000. Maybe it's just a youthful fad for millenials and after it peaks prices will come down a bit. I'll probably be too broke to buy anything by then because I bought so much at current prices...
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2021
  4. I watch a lot of Youtube videos on photography and Millenials aged 20-30 make up 90% of them. They are the ones buying these old cameras. People my age 50+ don't use film much anymore, but if they do, its usually cheap inexpensive film cameras. I never stopped using film, so I held on to some of my gear over the years. I upgraded to the P67II a year after I sold my original P6x7 camera. Im glad I got it when I did, as I'd never spend that kind of cash on a film camera today. My Pentax 67II is currently getting repaired, thankfully buy one of the few outlets that still work on the P67II.
  5. Prices are certainly on the up. There are a few cameras not so badly effected like the Mamiya C3 (a good one) which is available with a lens for about £200 whereas a Yashica 124 STARTS at £300 and can be a LOT higher. And nice Mamiya C33's also still under the cost of a well used Yashica.124. Also the Mamiya RB67's' start at £500 Which is a bargain for what these beasts are. An RZ will START at £1500. RB & RZ take the same pictures.
  6. It's supply and demand. Medium format was never as popular as 35mm, so the supply is limited. IMO, digital is also way beyond what 35mm was capable of, so the attraction is a bit limited. Medium format can give digital a run for its money, so if you're going to mess with film, why not choose a format that's more capable? Of course by that logic, large format should be flying off the shelves and I don't think that's happening. It's been years since I've noticed anybody shooting a landscape with a 4x5.
  7. It's not just a fad driving prices up again. Though the film camera market will eventually come to an end.
    YouTube is not a reliable measure for who is using this equipment. People your age, 25asa, tend to post far less on YouTube than millenials.

    After the initial move to the digido, when prices of film gear plummeted, there were still people hanging on to film and tus their film gear, and some returns to film. The reason is largely because they like what they get from (mostly) B&W film, even when scanned and processed digitally from thereon. And yes, some people who never used film before have discovered film as something old and nice.
    That is also evident from film sales figures. After an huge drop, the decline came to a hold, and sales have started to rise again (though of course only a tiny bit, compared to the numbers before digital).

    Another factor is that people who still want to use film see that their film cameras are no longer made, and that (economically viable - when it is cheaper to find a replacement camera...) repairs are getting difficult as well. So with prices at a low, it made good sense to stock up with spare cameras (and lenses).
    And dropping prices also meant they could now upgrade to models they wanted but could not afford earlier.

    A third factor as far as medium format is concerned is that medium format gear has always been a niche product, compared to 35 mm format gear. There never was much of it available on the market. Some brands and models are more are than others, and for some items you will have to wait a very long time to even see one surface, let alone for a price someone can afford. Demand may be low, but there is no supply. Hence things are expensive (the wind crank for a Hasselblad 503 CW camera, for instance, does come up for sale now and again, but sells for amounts that could buy you a nice lens for that same camera, or even a complete camera kit from another brand).

    So demand, like film sales, grew, and with it the price drop turned around into a (small) rise again.
    Fiddlefye likes this.
  8. Large format, Conrad, has always been the domain of those who need it and those who appreciate the aesthetic qualities of the large format. It was never popular, because of the inconvenience of using large format gear and processing large format film. Back in the days, it was also a rare occassion to see large format ´out in the wild´.

    The latter of the two groups has remained active in force today, and that is reflected in the price of the more portable type of large format cameras. The more studio bound type of large format cameras are dirt cheap nowadays (except for the 8x10 variants, which are in demand by the people who appreciate the aesthetic quality of that format. 4x5 and the in-between 5x7 were used in large part to get to use the capabilities of the camera (movements) more than for the larger format.

    Large format did not transition well to the digido. Scanning backs were available, but restrict use to studio still life photography. Though the quality of those scanning backs is superb. So it's mainly scanning film on very expensive and hard to set up and use scanners (or the cheaper but far less good option of scanning on flatbed scanners).

    So large format, despite its quality, has lost out on what made it rather impopular before: convenience. Not convenient enough to appeal to many. The logic you mentioned, of ever more capable film formats, found its end where the gear needed started to weigh more than you could hold in one hand.
  9. It seems that in recent years (before 2020) that medium format prices were falling, but not as fast as 35mm.

    There are plenty of high-end 35mm SLRs in the $20 price range.

    I found that my nearest film lab is still open, and asked about how they were doing.
    It seems that business has been up in the last year. Covid got more people
    out (or in) shooting film!
    Fiddlefye likes this.
  10. 12 years ago I owned two 35mm film cameras 4 lenses and 1 TLR.
    6 years ago I owned 5 35mm cameras 14 lenses, 2 TLR cameras and one Fujica 6x9 rangefinder.
    Today I own a lot more.
    I think the price development is my fault, and I am not millennial - don’t blame the youth.
    Fiddlefye likes this.
  11. I very fortunately got the 'bug' for collecting film cameras before the prices went up.

    There are "fads" -- they are not just made up puffs, but they do not sustain a market. I do not expect the slight increases currently to make my collection a backup for my retirement.

    As q.g. implies, another problem is that the infrastructure is undergoing a process not unlike sublimation - evaporating without going through a "liquid" state.
  12. Film photography has settled into a residual market. Pros kept the quality film labs afloat and sank many of them a decade+ ago. Recall being excited by the quality and price of MF gear 10-12 years ago, e.g., a boxed NOS Mamiya RB67 Pro S body for $130(looked like a pro's un-used back-up) a like-new boxed Bronica SQ-B kit for $300.It goes on. No one wanted it. 35mm prices were borderline tragic then, too. But I stopped buying having grabbed more than enough to suit my needs.

    Now? Looks like a MF "bubble" with junkers over-priced and better stuff(though not that much better)going for silly money. Few new to this market have much sense of how undesirable MF once was or know that much it led hard working lives before being spiffed up for sale now. It can work provided the local film ecosystem remains intact and competent repair talent is available--preferably locally. Absent one or both of those, new MF shooters may just ditch the proposition after the fun turns to frustration.

    Funny but I don't see film photography restricted to one age cohort here in Toronto. Film, decent labs and gear aren't hard to get. Always amused by the variety of people lined up(make that "once" lined up since we're under lockdown now till late May)at the Downtown Camera film and lab desk--truly a "newly-wed to nearly-dead" crowd. Bargains are still out there through social media private sales platforms. The "Big Auction Site" is about the last place I'd look.
  13. Bargains are getting harder to find. Unless you are prepared to take a chance on a camera. Of which the seller knows absolutely nothing about film cameras. I have had a few bought that way.

    My £170 Red Lizard skin Mamiya C33. Bought with a135mm lens (these lenses on their own sell in the UK @ £150) Camera needed light seals and a focus screen (C3 one fitted).

    . P9211064.JPG
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2021
    Fiddlefye likes this.
  14. My wee bit scruffy Mamiya RB67.Pro S Bought with prism std lens & 140mm KL lens for £500. (KL lenses START AT £300) The grip I bought cheap separately. The badge on the prism was missing, label maker tab will have to do.. There was another RB67 Pro S for sale at the same time I bought this. Mint with prism std & short tele lens. (Non KL) That camera was £2000. Sold too.

    Fiddlefye likes this.
  15. Even 35mm P&S cameras are getting expensive though. I paid more for a good P&S for my son's girlfriend last Summer than I did for a Yashica 12 a few years ago.
  16. Cult followings distort pricing horribly, the Contax T-2/3 being examples that come to mind. Friends ask about these fashion statements masquerading as cameras and I usually respond, "Forget film. Get a good deal on a Ricoh GR II or GR III if you're flush." Most 20-25 year-old P&S cameras haven't stood up to abuse and bashing like SLRs of the same vintage did. Nearly impossible to get fixed, too.
  17. The models with retractable lens don't hold up, as after some time the gearing jams.

    My most recent camera buy is a Nikon D1X for $42, which is about the going rate.
    (Not including battery and charger, which I already had.)

    SLRs like the Canon FTb and Nikon FT3 are usually reasonably priced, and usually work.

    Used Canon and Nikon lenses for 35mm SLRs are also usually reasonably priced.

    A few years ago, I was interested in a Mamiya 645, but the prices weren't as low as
    I wanted them to be, for what I would use it for.
  18. Hadn't looked at completed auctions in a while. Wow, TLRs are way up from what I remember and Century Graphics are doing well. Can't believe what some Yashicamats have gone for. Glad I bought when I did. OTOH, the Signet35 remains a super deal if you give it a CLA.
  19. As this thread has descended into 35mm. I need to state I have a terrible notion at present for another Canon F1. NO I DO NOT NEED ANOTHER CANON F1. Done that.. My old friend, ,a middle aged Olympus e620 (12.3mp) with a pro lens on, is more than up to my other than medium format needs. In other words.. More than good enough for my A3 printer.. I do often go out with armed with the Olympus and one of my MF's at the same time..
  20. True. And I'll add another factor. A year or so ago, Hasselblad 1000Fs were $650 cameras all day long. I happened across one on eBay that had a ridiculous Buy It Now number. The seller didn't include photos in the listing. Only after dogging this lazy seller for more information did I get serial number info. Realizing it was a very rare one, I paid up. After that, asking prices seemed to go nuts for cameras that weren't special at all. I can't help but think that some buyers just cruise through "sold listings" and base their purchase decision off how much others paid - without understanding what others actually got. It can be a vicious cycle.

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