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What To Do With An Old Film Camera When The Love Is Gone

what to do with an old film camera

Some of us still remember them; film cameras. Some of us still have them. Not that this is a bad thing by any means. At least not until that camera has been sitting in a box for decades and you doubt you will ever pick it up again. At that point it becomes an annoyance. What to do with that hold film camera now that the love is gone?

Check Its Value

The first thing to do is, if your equipment is particularly old, to check to see if it has any value beyond what you assume it is worth. Most of us rate non-digital camera gear pretty low. Often that is true. A quick check of past sales on eBay or other sites will let you know if there is any value to the camera beyond bargain basement prices. If you haven’t stumbled upon a lost, rare, vintage piece of equipment, you might want to…

Sell It

The (somewhat) quick and easy answer is to sell the camera. eBay, Craigslist.org or a local pawn shop. Many secondhand trading websites exist all over the planet and I won’t attempt to name them all. They are a great way to reuse old equipment and avoid it going straight into the landfill. Don’t expect to take your next vacation with the funds, but taking your mates out for a pint might be a nice way to celebrate. Or maybe it will buy two more loads of clean clothes at the laundromat. Either way, it beats leaving it in a box which you may have to move some day, at which time you wonder, “Why do I still have this thing?”

Ask A Photography Teacher

Local colleges and high schools still have classes for film photography. I know you might not believe me, but they are still out there! If your camera is a SLR type, it is possible they know someone who can use it for the class. As you might suspect, students sign up for a class like this sometimes not realizing their digital camera won’t work (which teaches film and print developing, the latter of which is still a valuable skill, although changed in the digital world). Even if a student isn’t in need, the instructor might have a personal interest or know someone who does. Which reminds me you should…

Find An Enthusiast

If you camera is above the norm, it’s possible an enthusiast will be willing to take it off your hands. Just be sure you checked the first item on this list and aren’t handing over a priceless gem. Don’t worry, you’re probably not. Enthusiasts often congregate on websites to swap info, such as The Photo Forum or local clubs like Gravesend Camera Club (I know, it’s only in Kent). Even a digital photography local club will be a good place to start asking. “Hi! I have this Nikon F5 body and lenses. Do you know anyone who might be interested in it?” Be prepared to meet with rejection but don’t give up, they are out there!

Use It

This last one is crazy, I know. There are competitions which hearken back to one of film photography’s big limitations compared to digital; number of exposures. I’m thinking here of the one run by Morton Rand-Hendriksen in Vancouver, Canada. Each year he holds a competition where each contestant is given a 12 exposure roll of film and each hour a new topic is revealed. It puts your photo skills to the test because there’s no LCD display! Gasp! You have to understand your camera’s metering system and know beforehand how shots will come out. No, there’s no instant gratification and you turn your film in (and get to see the images printed and on display in a gallery later). But it is a fun way to test your mettle and meet some new friends.

There are all types of places who will take your camera as a donation. Thrift stores, for one, almost always accept gear in good shape. Then start searching out on the internet. In quick order I came up with a few options for you:

At this point I’m just searching the Google for all it has. It’s not hard. Heck, you can even use Bing if you want to. Even if you are not finding many viable options for the camera, it is possible some of the lenses can be donated. For instance Reptile & Amphibian Ecology International will take your auto-focus lens as long as it works with a digital camera.

Do you have an idea of what to do with old film gear? I’d love to hear it if it can help keep the equipment out of a hole in the ground and possibly put it in the hands of someone who wants it!

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Peter West Carey
Peter West Carey

leads photo tours and workshops in Nepal, Bhutan, Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles and beyond. He is also the creator of Photography Basics – A 43 Day Adventure & 40 Photography Experiments, web-based tutorials taking curious photographers on a fun ride through the basics of learning photography.

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