Comrade Tom Tigers

How do you get a Camera Collection?

Or, Hey Tom where do you get the money from?

Or, How to get a Camera collection on the Cheap
by making a journey though the secondhand ciruit.

Many people have asked me this question, "Hey Tom, how do you pay for all these cams?"

And, "Hey Tom, where do you find these things? How do I get one, I want one!"

Well... first of all, most Russian cameras, in sharp contrast to their Western counterparts, sell cheap. Why? Because there old and sometimes have a bit of problems. Sometimes not....

Okay, but they still cost money...

So here is a little background info, I'm an engineer, I work with and repair computers the whole day long. Problem is after work my friends started to ask me to work on their stuff aswell. So after a while I was a bit tired of giving all this free support... and getting down, people only call me when they need something.... I started to hate that.... untill I got an idea....

Okay... this was a little background info, to some too much but to others an insight on the brain and pshyce of this person called Tom, who has a silly macho nickname... Tiger. Don't get me wrong, I love my nickname, I'm glad I have such a nickname ;-) Just wish I had more girlfriends... But back to the business at hand, Now! that is.

You probably guessed it, I started to charge for my services, either in goods, old cameras or old computerparts or cash. Some stuff I fix and resell other stuff I keep. All the money I make this way goes into my camerabudget. So there you go, not a really big secret, I just save up money and they try to find what I want.

But since you are reading this you clearly have embarked on a journey of your own with the sole purpose of building your own collection. Or just to get the inside track on collecting cameras. So lets start, you've got the money, now what? Where do you go to find nice collectable cameras, on the cheap? But don't forget, collect info first, don't go on a wild shopping adventure. Info first collect later. Information GOOD, Wasting money BAD..... For instance in the field of Russian Cameras there are a number of websites with info or offcourse the magnificent book by Jean Loup Princelle, often refered to as the Russian Camera Collectors Bible, "The Authentic Guide to Russian and Soviet Cameras". Granted that this books English translation isn't that well translated and that Princelle has made some mistakes in it. But it is THE book to get for Collectors. Princelle had done some remarkable research which is very impressive. The book even has timelines and has info on some of the lenses. It is that good a book that one will forgive its little quirks, besides that my cat likes to sleep on it.

Sources for your Collection,

  1. fleamarkets
  2. second handshops or pawnshops
  3. the secondhand corner of a camerashop
  4. Ebay
  5. Other auctionsites
  6. Websites
  7. Family
Not really in an ordered fashion but lets look at them.

Number one, Fleamarkets

A good source for used and totally misused cameras. You can find anything here, rare and exotic items, or just the usual. Zenit-E's turn up a lot here and in any condition. Usually cheap or if you have someone who thinks he knows something, very high priced as it is a rare item. Esspecially the Zenit-E sees a lot of variation in price. It can go from 5 euros all the way op to a shocking 100 euros. They usually sell only to the gullable fools who have never heard from a thing called internet. If you are reading this you must be a lot smarter. If you did buy a Zenit-E for about a 100 euros, or dollars.... well... then you either bought it way back in the sixties or seventies of the last century or you got lured in. Personally I like fleamarkets, if they only were not so crowded...

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Number two, Secondhandshops or Pawnshops

Secondhand shops are fun to rummage through, sometimes they can turn up incredible finds but these are in general lucky finds. Most people who run them are smarter than you think. So don't expect a Leica II to turn up here, even a Zorki 1 would be a rare find. Expect instead oddballs. Weird and sometimes rare items from which they don't know are rare. I love those, allways with smell of old in them and allways there are weird items. Tribal statues from Africa, strange carved boxes, cases with pins from all around the world. Sometimes the smell of incents and old leather. You can spend days in here....just looking through the items or talking to the shopkeeper while he is stroking his white cat.

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Number three, the secondhand corner of a camerashop

My favourite place. And here you can find working cameras. Whereas you just have to find out at the fleamarket and the secondhandstore if they work, here you can find out directly and you can get good advice aswell. Price is allways a little higher than on number one or number two but it is a good place to start searching. And if you are lucky you'll find a Zenit-E in working state here. A lot of camerastores have second hand corners, some even make a living just selling used equipment. These ones can be the best or they charge too high a price. Don't worry about that, either someone buys it at too high a price, so it wasn't ment for you anyway, or it sits on the shelf collecting dust and after a year or so they sell it too you, cheap.

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Number four, Ebay

I have written about Ebay, but it still is one of the best places to find second hand cameras for you collection but it ain't easy. But there is a lot of choice on Ebay.
Ebay can be great just stick with these rules.
  • Allways deal with a reputable seller
  • Join forums about cameras and ask about sellers
  • check out their feedback
  • wait with dealing with sellers who have shunshades or no feedback
  • get yourself a Paypall account
  • get yourself a Bidpay account
  • familiarize yourself with Ebay
  • familiarize yourself with Western Union
And allways remember the old saying, "Every day of the week there is someone trying to con you" This offcourse goes for both buyers as sellers. It must be frustating for sellers to relist a quality item several times just because someone in the forums says he got one cheap and now everyone is waiting for a cheap one. Or to have someone retract their bid with some bogus reason. Don't you just hate that! You put up an auction, you take the effort to make some nice photos of your item, you put up all the info, you make sure payment is easy and then they bid, they bid high.... and retract... or it turns out that they didn't intend to pay for the item. I mean the irritation... White cat is mad too scratching at the screen, jumping off your lap....

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Number five, other auctionsites

Not as crowed as Ebay but also not so much choice as Ebay. Things found here are usually by luck.... Dang... this is a short paragraph..... But there really isn't much to say about the other auctionsites, they work the same as Ebay.

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Number six, websites

Excellent to find good and CLA'd items, what is CLA'd? Cleaned and Adjusted, so you can find here, against reasonable prices good cameras. These have been looked after. Though some might have high prices compared to Ebay you can be pretty sure you get the good stuff and even a Warranty. Perfect if you are a collector who just needs to have the "mint, W@W, R@RE, L@@K" stuff. But perfect also if you are just starting out. You can be sure you get something that works. And even though a seller on Ebay or any auctionsite says that it works.... it doesn't have to be that way. Here you can be sure.

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Number seven, Family

Pherhaps one of the best places to start, pherhaps grandma and granddad kept their camera. And if they did it might even be a little lost gem that just has to be taken out restored and be used again. Take a dive in the dust of the old attic or cellar and see what you can find.

Hmm... another awfully short paragraphy....

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Are you though enough or for that matter crazy enough to read ....

Part 8, Camera Fairs... ?

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