Buying old cameras

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by BenJT, Jan 2, 2013.

  1. BenJT

    BenJT Member

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    So, I have been gaining a lot of interest in the old folders, TLR's, etc, but looking on ebay, 95% percent of sellers give a description that is vague at best, the ones that give a decent description almost always state shutter speeds are off, which I guess is to be expected. Certainly there must be someone out there selling vintage cameras that they have performed a CLA on, correct? I honestly have no idea what a CLA would cost as I have never had one done. If anyone can point me in the right direction to buy one of these types of cameras in good functioning condition I would really appreciate it. Or even recommend someone on the east coast (specifically the north east) that does reasonably affordable CLA's that would be great.
     
  2. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    There are a number of vendors out there who sell medium format folders, etc. that have been CLA'd. If you're open to former Soviet cameras, there's a vendor called Fedka - http://www.fedka.com/catalog/
    He's actually in New York. There's another vendor who sells old Agfa and other german folders - Certo6 - http://www.certo6.com/ . Give those two a look-see and you might find something you're interested in. The prices they have are not the cheapest, but their cameras are overhauled and ready to go. Anything you come across on Ebay as you've already seen is buyer beware.
     
  3. Dali

    Dali Subscriber

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    I already dealt with Fedka and I consider him as a trusty seller. He is not the cheapest but seems to be fair which is unvaluable!
     
  4. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    You could look up KEH.

    Jeff
     
  5. Arcturus

    Arcturus Member

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    I bought a Voigtlander Bessa from Certo6 and was very happy with the condition of the camera and the price. It's become my go to camera for everything. Here is a link to his Ebay store. http://stores.ebay.com/certo6
     
  6. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    Hopefully, you mean invaluable!


    Steve.
     
  7. pschauss

    pschauss Member

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    Ebay seller Cupog usually has a few CLAed folders for sale. I have bought three from him and they worked well.
     
  8. emayoh

    emayoh Member

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    I got my Leica M2 from the incomparable Leica magician Youxin Ye on ebay. Best thing I ever did. He doesn't always have bodies for sale, but when you do, you know they will be as-described and likely silky smooth.
    http://stores.ebay.com/wye7/


    Rollei expert Harry Fleenor occasionally sells Rolleis from his site http://www.rolleirepairs.com/rollei4sale.htm but it would probably be much more efficient to just buy one elsewhere and just have it shipped to him straight away. I picked up my 'flex for cheap off Craigslist, took it to him for his $134 shutter overhaul and still paid less than I would have from a more boutique dealer.
     
  9. Richard S. (rich815)

    Richard S. (rich815) Subscriber

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    KEH has great return policies and used camera warranty but their stuff is not CLA'd as far as I know.
     
  10. Richard S. (rich815)

    Richard S. (rich815) Subscriber

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    Huge up vote for Youxin Ye and his Leicas. Forget ebay though and just google him and email directly. He has a load of non-working Leica bodies around just waiting for a CLA and/or fix up that he'll quote you for. Got a great user M2 from him this way at a very nice price and have a IIIF RD on the way too that he CLA'd, installed a new beam splitter and replaced one of the shutter curtains, again for a very fair price.

    I also have a Certo I bought from the certo6 site too. Same accolades.

    More expensive vs eBay but not a crap shoot either.
     
  11. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    Ben,

    As you might already know, CLA means Clean - Lube - Adjust. But, what some repair people call CLA range from tear everything apart and re-assemble to blow dust away and put some oil in it. My local guy charges something like starting fee of $175 for this type of service and it goes up from there depending on what he finds.

    Obviously, if you are buying old cameras, the cost of proper CLA will exceed your purchase price and in some cases by a large margin. If parts aren't available, which is often the case, it might be fabricated or somehow obtained from junker cameras.

    Unless you want to go very seriously into this type of thing, my suggestion would be to buy one that functions well in the first place. If you are patient and watch classified section right here in APUG, you'll find something like Rolleicord fairly often in functioning condition. I bought and sold mine here too for something like $150ish. Various other makes and models often show up and as being an enthusiast site, description on what works and what doesn't are usually pretty accurate - based on my personal experience.

    Also, as mentioned, KEH is a good source for fairly recent models. Their cameras are NOT CLA'd but they do guarantee they work and when they don't, they'll gladly refund or exchange your purchases.

    I guess what I'm suggesting is to decide how far you'll want to get into this before you start.
     
  12. BenJT

    BenJT Member

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    Thanks for all the responses guys, its all very helpful information. I keep an eye on the inventory at KEH constantly and know of their great return policy, but its nice to hear the names of some other great places to buy.
     
  13. Whiteymorange

    Whiteymorange Member

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    Hi Ben.
    There are lots of good technicians out there (and even more incompetent ones, I'm sure) One of the former is Michael Zack, at Zack's Camera Repair, in Providence. Another top notch company is SK Grimes, in Woonsocket, RI. They tend to be a bit pricier but they're able to do just about anything and their work is unbeatable.

    Michael recently did a CLA on a Rollei Automat for me and I was quite pleased with the result. Give him a call. You would be able to find a good deal on cameras at the PHSNE Photographica show in April, in Wakefield, MA or, if you're a member or are willing to join PHSNE (half price membership for the first year is dirt cheap) the member's auction in February is a wonderful place to pick up bargains, as well as meet a bunch of fellow gear-heads (same location). Michael Zack is often there and can talk to you about any camera you might be interested in. Other folks can help with the selection as well–they won't be there as dealers, but as members and potential buyers. I have yet to see anything at the auction go for anything like its street price.
     
  14. BenJT

    BenJT Member

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    Well, I just took my first leap into the medium format world and went with a Mamiya c220 and 55mm from keh.
     
  15. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Excellent camera to start with.

    Is the 55mm lens your only lens? It is quite wide for an "only" lens.

    And a bit slow too - for an only lens.

    But it is a good lens.
     
  16. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    i can vouch for a handful of the people, zacks, sk grimes, and midstate camera repair all in rhode island and youxin ye, of massachusetts
    they have all done top notch work for me without issue at a fair price.

    i cannot vouch for mr certo6.
    while others have had OK experiences, be aware not everything is wine and roses ...
    he did the absolute worst camera fixing i have ever experienced. i will not pollute your thread with the details ... but
    i wouldn't buy anything sold by him, or send anything to him to CLA, even if he was the last person around to do it.
     
  17. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    They don't usually have much in the way of folders, though. As far as I know, certo6 is about the only game in town for repaired/CLAd folders; most folders seem to end up on eBay. Personally, I've actually had fairly good luck buying them there; I got one completely unusable bellows, one GORGEOUS Voigtlaender Rollfilmkamera that turns out to be so gorgeous because its standard is misaligned to the point of nonfunctionality,and the other seven or eight have been functional.

    As a rule of thumb, Zeiss and Nettar folders will have good bellows (bellowses? bellowsen?), while Agfas will have a spiderweb of shreds where the bellows used to be. The very cheap Foldex 20 has a *really* robust bellows, but isn't much of a camera---they seem like good candidates for a lens-and-shutter transplant.

    -NT
     
  18. BenJT

    BenJT Member

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    Thanks, it seemed like the right move to make especially for the price.

    The 55mm will be my only lens for a little while, its the lens I wanted most out of the lineup and keh stated it was very clean and all speeds working properly, so I figured might as well get it now instead of searching out a good one down the road. I'm going to get the 80 later this month, then eventually I'd like to add the 105 and 180.
     
  19. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    If you like buying old cameras, may I suggest you keep this in your browser -

    https://www.westlicht-auction.com/index.php?id=2397078&refererid=7132&_ssl=off&lang=3
     
  20. elekm

    elekm Member

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    If you plan to start buying a lot, you MUST learn to work on these yourself. You will pay an average $125 per camera for an overhaul, and from an economic point of view, it doesn't make sense to do that. Because once you've bought eight cameras, that means you will spend another $1,000 to have them serviced.

    Either that, or buy only cameras that have been serviced.

    If you only expect to buy a camera here or there, then it's not as big a deal to pay someone to have them serviced.

    Folding cameras generally are easy to service, and you just need some patience, some tools and a steady hand.

    When you enter the world of complex cameras, such as SLRs and anything with a focal-plane shutter, then that's a different ballgame entirely.
     
  21. Too old to care

    Too old to care Subscriber

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  22. Ulrich Drolshagen

    Ulrich Drolshagen Subscriber

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    The market does not seem to appreciate already serviced cameras. To my experience you will not be able to regain the cost of the CLA in selling the camera (if you are interested in a refitted Rolleiflex 3.5A for 590$ send me a PM). As a consequence most cameras which are CLA'd, will remain on the shelf until their status is unknown again (by successors selling the inheritance of a passed away photog for instance). So my advice is to find a camera in decent shape and take into account about 150$ for CLA in considering the price. And do not expect to get your 'investment' back in selling it again.