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

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

Copyright avlxyz

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.

Donate It

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!

Read more from our Cameras & Equipment category

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.

Some Older Comments

  • billie henry December 19, 2012 04:06 pm

    It seems as you guys have expensive cameras. I am talking about the little $40 cameras. What do I do with them? Some help me please. I just hate to throw them away.

  • alex January 8, 2012 03:29 am

    Actually if it's a slr and you know how to take pictures...learn how to USE ITproperly...it takes way better pictures than many digital cameras especially if you have good lenses and use good film. You will find that using that kind of camera will teach you how to take your time and you will proud of each pic. That "big limitation" which is number of exposures is actually the problem with digital...to many people shooting tons of worthless pics without caring. But of course, if you only take pics of cats, dogs, your children and sunsets then yeah give it away or sell it to someone who would use it for more..

  • Jean-Pierre August 30, 2011 03:21 am

    Use them!


  • Tallulah May 30, 2011 06:11 am

    How fortuitous to come across this topic. Was thinking yesterday about what to do with my two SLRs. One is a Yashica, a cheapie, completely manual, but it's the only one that takes my Tamron 70-210 lense. The other is a Pentax ME which I searched high and low for and found on ebay. My brother has some lenses that will fit my Pentax, so it is still usable too. I have a digital camera and am looking to upgrade that one, but just can't afford the DSLRs.

    After reading the comments I will keep my SLRs and still use them for those times when I don't mind dragging lots of equipment with me. For the other times I'll get a better digital (mine just doesn't give me the macro/zoom/wide angle I want), and travel light.

    Thanks everyone for the comments. Helped me sort the dilemma! :)

  • Eric March 24, 2011 04:37 am

    It is not crazy at all to use a film camera if You feel enthusiastic about it! I have a Canon EOS series SLR film camera for many years now and I am still using it. Before Canon I had a couple of soviet ZENIT cameras. Of corse You should be aware about expenses of using it - buying films,processing,scanning,printing and ect.
    I'll tell You what IS crazy - I only got myself something digital last month :D
    Feel free to check out some of my film photography in

  • Andrew (Not the one above!) March 20, 2011 01:12 pm

    I display them.
    I have about twenty of them, all of which work and I have them displayed around the house/room.
    In fact, all of them work and I have a stash of spair film so I occaisionally grab one and go for a shoot.
    I have a couple of friends completely obsessed with them so a couple of times I've given them as gifts (birthdays etc.), works a charm.

  • Eugene March 18, 2011 03:06 pm

    Take a small screwdriver kit and remove all the innards. Break out riveted parts with a larger screwdriver. Be ruthless. Re-use the little mirror in a dollhouse, birdcage or some fun thing. Then use a rotary tool (Dremel) to cut a slot in the top of the body. Insert coins and folding money to save up for your next camera or lens. Anyone would love a cool piggy bank like this as a gift.

  • Andrew March 17, 2011 07:22 am

    I have a Chinon CE4 which has gone around the world with me since 1982! I recently got a nice new Pentax DSLR and my old lenses have found a new lease of life - manual and digital together! Some of my old lenses open up more than the one that comes with the Pentax (not exactly a slouch itself) so I'm looking forward to see how this works with a digital device.

    The old Chinon body is in honoured retirement now and occasionally comes out to check if it all still works. I do enjoy doing that. The last time my 15 year old daughter started to take an interest too so it may just come out of retirement yet.

  • Pio Danilo P. Cuadra March 14, 2011 07:29 pm

    Yeah. I still have a Minolta x700 camera fully loaded ( with MD 1 motor drive, multi-function back & 220X flashgun). My daughters use it. Currently I am using a Canon EOS 1N HS, load a Kodak Ektar 100 into it and.....bingo your pictures come way ahead of their digital counterparts. With 100% viewfinder, weather seal, tank like- built body and full frame,who says film SLRs are obsolete?

  • alberta myers March 13, 2011 10:05 am

    I have owned a Minolta x700 for the past years and I have to say that I would not give it up for nothing. I am a 50 year old female learning and enjoying the fun in black/white photography. The joy and of learning and knowing how to develop my own film and photos. What a lot of people do not know is that it is very addictive. I tried digital and I feel that I am not at all ready for it. I like it but it is so much from the manual that you can do and cannot do with the digital. Try it, please, try it. Also, any equipment that is in need to get rid of please let me know. Wow, I would be more than happy to take it off your hands. Thank you

  • filmForever March 12, 2011 07:03 am

    yeah, keep it and sell your digital equipment. Film has so much more latitude and personality, it boggles my mind why more people aren't still using film. Probably because it's easier, and that's where you separate the true artists from the amatures.

  • Sally March 12, 2011 02:41 am

    Here's the link to the "found" 35 mm cameras being sold on the Pottery Barn website:


    For cameras on display in interior design.

  • Sally March 12, 2011 02:32 am

    I'm pretty sure I just saw one of the more recent Pottery Barn Catalogs selling old cameras for display as part of their interior design!!! You don't get to pick which old camera you get but there must be a (new?) decorating trend in displaying old cameras. I think they were selling the cameras for about $125-150 each.

    Just another line of thought about what you could do with those old cameras.

  • cortlander March 11, 2011 11:05 pm

    I exchanged an old film camera for a refurbished EOS 7D through the Canon loyalty program. The camera I recd appeared brand new, even the strap was in cellophane packing. I got 20% off for the refurbished, and another 20% off for turning in the old camera.

  • Bobbi Mercouri March 11, 2011 03:22 pm

    If it's a Konika Minolta lens, you can send it to me. I have a Sony alpha and can use A-mount lenses.

  • Walker Bob March 11, 2011 09:50 am

    I am a "traveling" photography teacher who still uses and promotes the art of the black & white film/photographic process. I search for and attain grants which enable me to travel to rural and underserved schools, and can always use more film cameras, hopefully in working order. I also bring equipment to outfit a working darkroom, which is then left for the schools/communities to use.
    If you want to donate any darkroom equipment, I'd be open to discussing any logistics that could be involved.
    Walker Bob

  • Michel March 11, 2011 08:29 am

    thanks ION,

    I think you are right. We are too far into the digital age.

  • Lon March 11, 2011 04:34 am

    Michel, google "siliconfilm" its a company that apparently was trying to produce this digital cartridge to fit where 35mm film normally would go, but it never got far off the ground. There are some articles on dpreview.com about it too - the original company was called "imagek" and the product is called "efilm" This is probably the one I was thinking of, the problems with it are 1) never actually was commercially produced 2) resolution was only 1.3mp 3) sensor was tiny meaning that there would be large crop factor that didn't match the angle of view in the viewfinder 4) no LCD 5) very small memory 6) it uses its own, low capacity battery.

    They probably still hold a bunch of patents on this, but if someone was to redevelop with current level of technology it could possibly be feasible, but I think we are too far along the digital path for there to be any kind of market for such a thing.

  • Michel March 11, 2011 01:17 am

    got that from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_camera#Line-scan_camera_systems

    When digital cameras became common, a question many photographers asked was whether their film cameras could be converted to digital. The answer was yes and no. For the majority of 35 mm film cameras the answer is no, the reworking and cost would be too great, especially as lenses have been evolving as well as cameras. For most a conversion to digital, to give enough space for the electronics and allow a liquid crystal display to preview, would require removing the back of the camera and replacing it with a custom built digital unit.

    Many early professional SLR cameras, such as the Kodak DCS series, were developed from 35 mm film cameras. The technology of the time, however, meant that rather than being digital "backs" the bodies of these cameras were mounted on large, bulky digital units, often bigger than the camera portion itself. These were factory built cameras, however, not aftermarket conversions.

    A notable exception is the Nikon E2, followed by Nikon E3, using additional optics to convert the 35mm format to a 2/3 CCD-sensor.

    A few 35 mm cameras have had digital camera backs made by their manufacturer, Leica being a notable example. Medium format and large format cameras (those using film stock greater than 35 mm), have a low unit production, and typical digital backs for them cost over $10,000. These cameras also tend to be highly modular, with handgrips, film backs, winders, and lenses available separately to fit various needs.

    The very large sensor these backs use leads to enormous image sizes. For example Phase One's P45 39 MP image back creates a single TIFF image of size up to 224.6 MB, and even greater pixel counts are available. Medium format digitals such as this are geared more towards studio and portrait photography than their smaller DSLR counterparts; the ISO speed in particular tends to have a maximum of 400, versus 6400 for some DSLR cameras. (Canon EOS-1D Mark IV and Nikon D3S have ISO 12800 plus Hi-3 ISO 102400)

  • Michel March 11, 2011 01:13 am

    Ion & Dogwatcher,

    Thank you for the extra detail (The one I remember was definitly not a Kodak and was sort of for universal purpose - no brand define).

    I am pretty sure that it could be now a viable marketing product but who will take the risk!?

  • dogwatcher March 10, 2011 06:21 pm


    Yes, there was a project called (e)fim. But it did fail. They narrowed down the list of cameras where (e)film should be usable for down to some Canon and Nikons.. (no talk anymore that it would fit to ANY analogue camera..). Then it was quickly surpassed by the advance of cheaper digital cameras...

  • Lon March 10, 2011 05:51 pm

    Michel, I too remember seeing a digital film adapter that went in place of a 35mm roll of film. I think it was a kodak product but was somewhat expensive (same price as a point and shoot) and I think you had to send it away to get the images off it (which kind of defeated the purpose)

  • luisa March 9, 2011 01:57 am

    another possibility

  • Dan March 8, 2011 04:04 am

    I still have my first slr A Ricoh kr-10. The housing around the flash hotshoe was damaged when I slipped on some creek stones while getting that perfect shot from the middle of the stream in the smokies.I replaced it with a pentax p model since all my manual lenses would work. Last year I replaced my film camera with a pentex k20. I like the idea on donateing to a collage.Going to see if I can find one around here. Thanks for the idea.

  • meep March 7, 2011 12:31 pm

    PLEASE PLEASE check and see if you can donate it to a school, yes! I'm in a HS film photography class and it's hard to keep everyone on track in the class because of lack of cameras, and lack of money for cameras and for the class.

  • Michel March 7, 2011 11:34 am

    And what about a digital 35mm film adapter? I remember seing one in a catalogue 10 years ago but didn't manage to follow up on the idea. It was made of a roll (same size as a 35mm film roll) that had some memory built in (I don't think it was a memory card) and from this "roll" came a piece of the size of a 35mm piece of film with the sensor!

    I promess I didn't drink or invent this stuff but would really be more than happy to find something like that even only 5 or 7 megapixels. Tried to google it but nothing comes up!

  • Yeelen March 6, 2011 12:53 am

    I've got an old Nikon SLR film camera (forgot the full name) given to me by my stepfather, it was great to get such a thing. The manual focusing is great (especially with the f2.0 50mm lens) because ot lets you choose whatever you want to do. I've nearly finished the film roll, let's see what comes out!

  • Deborah March 5, 2011 03:12 am

    I've still got my old Kodak 110 sitting on a bookshelf. It has become a knick-knack. My 35mm film camera still has a roll of film in it I need to finish up. Someday it too will sit in knick-knack cabinet or shelf. I plan to hang onto mine for long as I live. They were great traveling companions, and brought me a lot of joy, and photos that open the flood gates of memories each time I look through them. :D

  • Jean-Pierre March 5, 2011 01:17 am


  • pat March 5, 2011 01:17 am

    Pinhole photos. I adapted a couple of pinholes that I had from a pinhole camera kit to my old film Canon body. It's great fun to do something different like that once in a while.

  • dogwatcher March 4, 2011 11:46 pm

    Sell them to Germany...

    Not kidding (at least not THAT much..)

    We have an analog craze going on here. Believe me. Every photographer who is at least SOMEWHAT
    known in the blogosphere and/or Twitter runs around again with an analog camera, you're even
    something like an outsider if you don't follow that trend. ;) (Oh yeah.. we've had discussions on Twitter...
    hilarious... ! ;) )

    Yes, I repeat, I'm not kidding.

    Hear Chris Marquardts "Weapon of choice" podcast of his "Tips-From-The-Top-Floor" show
    which is essentially all about this.

    A company called "Spuersinn" http://www.spuer-sinn.net/blog1/ expanding it's business year after year, dealing with films and chemistry again. Local used-camera-markets dealing with old analogue equipment have their time of their lifes.... with prices skyrocketing for all the old stuff.

  • Pavan March 4, 2011 11:36 pm

    grat read there, i've used a few film cameras and now with the Digital, but do take them out once in a while to fiddle around and when i think i've a rare chance of losing my cam (while travelling in diff places). but on the whole it just feels nice to go back old school every now n then.... thanks for the post again, nice read...

  • chew March 4, 2011 12:53 pm

    I've never used film cameras but I like their looks and design. And I like to have a collection of them! =)

  • Kat Landreth March 4, 2011 11:13 am

    Checking out high schools and colleges is GREAT advice. I'm a photography student and I just picked up a Nikon FA at a Goodwill near the school. The clerk there told me they get a lot of SLR's donated to them but they also sell them really quickly.

    Film photography groups on Flickr might be interested in old gear. They might even re-ignite a passion for film :)

  • Jean-Pierre March 4, 2011 10:03 am

    I have to second the FTP. Awesome info and funny as can be.

    As far as film gear goes: use it or donate it. If you dont have a use for it is kind of unfair not to give it to some that will appreciate it. One man's film camera paper weight is another's art medium.

    I shoot with an original pentax spotmatic, love it. Vintage lenses and a beautiful scene.. doesn't get much better than that.

  • Terri-Anne March 4, 2011 08:17 am

    I'm glad you mentioned shooting with it!

    I have an old Praktica Super TL, and it's taught me more about photography than anything other camera I've owned. It's 100% manual, so I have to do all the thinking; I only have so many shots on a roll, so I have to compose carefully - and then I get the surprise when I get my film back :)

    My local developer will actually just develop the roll, no making prints: it costs me $6 to get a roll of film developed, and I have a 35mm film scanner that has already paid for itself with how much it saves me in printing costs. I scan all the shots for my Flickr/Redbubble accounts and, if there's one I want to enlarge, I take that back and have it printed from the neg. (I don't really have the option or knowledge - yet - to do my own developing. That will come.)

  • Pat R March 4, 2011 07:09 am

    Maybe it can be converted to infrared and be a whole new experience.

  • Marty March 4, 2011 06:55 am

    I have 2 Pentax k1000 bodies and some manual lenses (usable with my k100D SLR). When we go on vacations (driving) I keep one body and a 250mm lens mounted on a tripod lying behind the front seat. Shutter release cable already attached. A great time-saver!
    I also carry one of the old ones when horseback riding, just in case a rodeo breaks out. I'd rather lose one of them than the digital. Although with all the punishment those k1000s have taken over 20 years, they are in amazingly good shape!

  • Lon March 4, 2011 06:18 am

    Used camera shops, pawn shops etc will barely give you any money for film SLR even if its in great condition or a professional model, yet they often have cases and cases full of stuff they have been trying to sell at next-to-new prices, and won't budge if you'd like to have any of it for parts of to add to your collection of of old manual focus lenses. I guess they are too committed to the old worthless stock they probably paid too much for.

    Meanwhile if anyone has an old Yashica FR-I they are giving away for free or dirt cheap (preferably one with a working exposure counter) let me know!

  • Fernando March 4, 2011 06:06 am

    Call me a pack rat, or whatever.. but I actually like to collect old gear. I pull them out now and then and play with them, it's great to go back to the old days sometimes. I have a fairly decent collection brewing, but I think my wife is starting to get worried!
    My oldest by far is the following:
    Us collectors will gladly take old equipment off your hands, and we're usualy not too hard to find.

  • corina March 4, 2011 03:55 am

    Tried the pawn shop, they won't take it, even though it's a Canon SLR, with a lens & the bag - so I decided to keep it. Now, I plan on using it from time to time.

  • cathy March 4, 2011 03:45 am

    I won't sell mine.I still use it as a back-up just in case my digital breaks down.I always say you can never have to many cameras. A friend of mine however donated her old camera to a student at Kent State collage.The student was very happy and sends her updates on his grades and thanks her time and time again for all she had done.

  • Rick March 4, 2011 03:17 am

    I have been dealing in medium format cameras lately. I just bought a Mamiya C330 and have been processing my B&W film at home. I also have a Holga Pin Hole Camera that I have been playing with. Kinda fun to do some of the old technology things again.

  • Jon Spielberg March 4, 2011 02:43 am

    Take a tax deduction by donating to your SLR to Department of Photographic Imaging, Community College of Philadelphia, 1700 Spring Garden St., Phila.PA 19130
    It will be used as a loaner for beginning photo students in the B&W darkroom classes. Thanks!

  • Benjamin Weaver March 4, 2011 02:05 am

    I started using my film camera again while I save up for a Canon 5d(hopefully mark III). The lens is above average, and it is helping me concentrate on the settings.

  • Amy Abrenica March 4, 2011 01:45 am

    Hi..thanks for the info. . I have this film camera, a Canon EOS 3000v.. What do you think with this one? My husband told me to sell this and bought a DSLR. More power to you and God bless.
    Amy of Manila Philippines ;-)

  • bill March 4, 2011 01:13 am

    Give it to someone who will love it, instead of just merely being infatuated with it.

  • Woods March 4, 2011 01:02 am

    I'm glad you mention the film photography podcast (http://www.filmphotographypodcast.com/) because it is an awesome podcast ! And before throwing away your film gear, listen to a few episodes of this podcast and you will want to shoot film again.
    -- Woods