View Full Version : Camera huntin

Calamity Jane
16-Nov-2004, 08:31
Since I decided a couple of months ago to build another 4x5 camera and to keep it looking OLD, I have been hunting on e-bay, hoping to pick up an old flat-bed camera from which I can steal the mechanics (and maybe bellows) for my new camera.

Everytime it looks like I might snag an old wooden camera at a reasonable price, the price skyrockets in the last hours from under $100 to over $300! There's a few I missed a couple of months ago in the $150 range but, as fall sets in, the prices seem to have gone UP substantially - like 50% above the "summer time prices".

I guess maybe what I am looking for is also in demand by collectors. I can't believe some of the beat-up old cameras that have fetched prices in the $500 to $1,000 range!

Any hints on where else to look for junker cameras?

Gem Singer
16-Nov-2004, 08:57
Hi Calamity,

Lens and Repro in New York. A personal phone call will help, but don't expect bargain prices. You are competing with a large number of antique camera collectors. E-Bay is a seller's marketplace. Buyers are at a disadvantage there.

Peter Collins
16-Nov-2004, 08:59
I can't comment on the kind of cameras you have been bidding on, but I too notice that final prices on Pentax digital spotmeters, sironar-N symmar-S lenses in 150mm, and a few other things seem higher than in the summer. In short, I now wish I had jumped on a couple of "Buy it nows."

I'm taking my time, thinking that prices will again come down....

Best of luck!

Steve Hamley
16-Nov-2004, 09:04
I've noted that too - several older 4x5 field cameras have gone for within $50 of what a new one in a box can be had. Given a choice between old, used eBay and new in the box, I'd always pop for new for $50.

Maybe you can find an old B&J. I think Butch Welch used the hardware from an 8x10 building his ULF cameras, so maybe the 4x5 can be had reasonably. Old 'rails seem dime a dozen, but anything reasonably portable seems to be bringing a premium.


16-Nov-2004, 09:11
Wait until Jan when everybody is paying for the holidays. Right now you've got the tail end students and the people buying gifts. Neither are value shoppers.

Depending on what you want the B&J press camera can be cheap. The various older Calumet/B&J/Kodak CC-400 type monorails are cheap. But are any worth buying for parts once you add shipping? Don't know.

Chad Jarvis
16-Nov-2004, 09:21
Nick took the words out of my mouth. I bought a B&J Press with Xenar for $85. Looks like crap. Sweet camera...aluminum w/revolving back.

Ralph Barker
16-Nov-2004, 09:25
Yep, few things are as frustrating as being beaten by the eBay Bidding Barracudas during the last 2 minutes of an auction.

Although scrounging the hardware from a non-functional beater is a good idea, it may take longer than you want. But, you might also contact good used outlets (MPEX, Lens and Repro, KEH, etc.) explaining what you're looking for, to see what they might have in the junk bin. They might have parts, but probably don't buy or keep non-functional stuff too often.

Another approach would be to look for just the hardware parts. You might, for example, contact the smaller LF builders to see if they would sell you the critical hardware you're looking for., explaining what you are trying to do. Spring clamps for the back, and lens-board retainers are probably the most difficult to come by from general hardware dealers. Gears and knobs, in contrast, are available from small-parts dealers like Small Parts (http://www.smallparts.com/), McMaster-Carr (http://www.mcmaster.com/), and others.

For the bellows, you might be better off getting a nice, new (no-leaks) red-leather bellows from the likes of Camera Bellows (http://www.camerabellows.com/), or buying a new replacement bellows from a dealer (MPEX, et al).

Jim Galli
16-Nov-2004, 10:07
Calamity, I have most of a Kodak improved #2 in gorgeous shape. Missing is bellows (there, but totally shot) back, lensboard. It was an 8X10. Present is beautiful cherry base, drop bed, rear standard, front standard, and all brass hardware. Picture here (http://tonopahpictures.0catch.com/11-16-2003/Eastman_2.jpg) but not the same camera. The one I'm offering is not complete. You can contact me off line if it's what you're looking for. $175 is what I'm into it.

Terence McDonagh
16-Nov-2004, 11:30
Been trying the same thing. Gave up. Started looking for hardware, but most of the stuff is simply not available. Corner brackets are plentiful, but are now made only for use INSIDE a box so the countersunk holes are countersunk from the inside of the angle, etc. Smallparts.com HAD small racks and pinions, but they aren't on the website anymore. Hinges are easy. Looking at some of the parts on the older stuff I decided I'm going to just buy some brass sheet and bend and drill it myself. This means using thinner stock than I'd prefer, but such is life.

Thought I was the only one with such crazy ideas until I saw your other post.

I got to see one of those Russian flatbed cameras on Sunday. Except for the racks having perpendicular teeth and mine having angled teeth, it was almost identical to my early 1900's German flatbed. But at an asking price of $350 I gave it a miss.

MIke Sherck
16-Nov-2004, 11:51
E-bay is in the ramp-up to holiday shopping and, based on past experience, prices will continue to climb until after Christmas. Expect a nose-dive after Jan. 1 and good prices through April or so, when the summer rush usually starts. Now is a good time to sell, not particularly to buy, although there are often decent deals which pop up from time to time. You need to be diligent in watching the auctions.

Other posters have mentioned places like Midwest Photo Exchange. I've always had, frankly, better luck there than on E-bay. Call and explain what you want: they have a lot of stuff that doesn't make it onto their web site and (while your milage may vary,) they've always been able to find what I needed in the back room somewhere, usually at an excellent price.


Struan Gray
16-Nov-2004, 13:04
You could try looking across the Atlantic for some of the European orphan sizes like half plate or the early 13x18 cm models that won't take modern holders. The collectable sections on eBay.de and eBay.uk have some good deals but you have to wade through a lot of junk to find them. Even at a Christies sale tailboard cameras and other simple field types don't sell for much, so check the mainstream brick-and-mortar auctions too. Otherwise, do a google on words like 'Lancaster' or 'Thornton-Pickard' to pick up the small dealers.