Why are Polaroid 405 backs so expensive?

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Captain Kodak, Jul 19, 2013.

  1. Captain Kodak

    Captain Kodak Member

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    Yesterday, I delved into the many crates in my storage unit to unearth a small cache of Polaroid backs in multiple sheet film sizes. I mated a 405 to my latest acquisition.


    Rather, when first toying with this new camera, the 405 back, which has sat unused for more than a decade (I shot with the 545 series, never cared for the 3 1/4 x 4 1/4 format) decided to show its age. So I hopped onto eBay to peek at what a "new" Polaroid 405 back would run me - $200. Somehow, defying, every tradition in the global second-hand marketplace, this item is selling used for more than many times its original retail value. Furthermore, they really aren't that old to play the whole "and adjusting for inflation bit. 405 were for the shooter on a budget, 545 were the pro series. Pros preferred the larger 4x5 size which mated to the framing of the film to be shot afterwards, with a stable of unique films like Type 55P/N. Hh how I pine for thee, I mis you terribly 55P/N - hands down the best film ever for the Bohemian photo artist, smoking hand rolled cigarettes, and once a month selling prints on a sidewalk in the local city center, wherever they may be parking their boots; selling to disseminate their art with and recoup costs, but not with any financial urgency. You might be able to tell that I have been contemplating that little scenario with a touch of an application to myself.


    Certainly, there is nothing collectible about a 405. Certainly more useful than the other instant film backs for whom their film format has sailed the river D76 into the great stop bath beyond, but surely there are enough of these to go around to such a diminishing market slowly being extinguished by lack of media to compose upon. They should stay at the same value, if not decrease as time goes onwards as many items facing then suffering obsolesce do.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 19, 2013
  2. Prof_Pixel

    Prof_Pixel Member

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    Supply and demand.
     
  3. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    eBay is photographic prices are often driven by greed, lack of market knowledge, and pure stupidity.
     
  4. DLawson

    DLawson Subscriber

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    To expand on that -- based on fragments here and there, eBay changed its fee structure a few years back. Apparently (I don't sell), that made it favorable to do buy-it-now or set higher starting prices.

    That severely degraded eBay as a source of comparative pricing (and probably for buying).

    Before this, there were a couple people trying to sell Crown Graphics for $800 (Vintage!). After this, oodles more.


    At this point, I view eBay as a problem waiting for a better solution.
     
  5. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    only a few years ago a brass lens was considered JUNK and cost maybe 30$
    the same lens now costs between 600 and 800$

    the reason that polaroid back is $$ is for the same reason ... someone will pay that much money for it
     
  6. Dr Croubie

    Dr Croubie Member

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    That's pretty much it, if noone paid it, the prices would drop. I've heard of people getting 50/1.4 Taks for $10, and Helios 85/1.5 for $100 ten years ago, now you're lucky to get one under $100 or $400 respectively.

    I also want a Polaroid 405 Back (or Fuji PA-1 or 145, or whatever takes FP3000C), but I'm just not going to buy until I see one under $100. I expect I'll be waiting a long long time.
    It's also just the fact that FP3000/100 is the only size readily available. 4x5 Instant is gone, you can get a 4x5 holder for $10 (I got one to use with Quickloads). Maybe if Impossible release a 4x5 film those holders will go back up to $100-200, and 405s will go back to $50...


    There's also the economic rule of "expectations of inflation cause inflation", in that if I think I can buy/sell a lens for $200 in a few years, and it's only $100 now, I'll buy now and either save/make money on the future price. That's how property/stockmarket/tulip bubbles form. Maybe we're in a lens bubble, and the prices will crash in a few years?
     
  7. erikg

    erikg Member

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    It's about the only size left for fresh film. The opposite has happened to 545 holders. I never would have guessed.
     
  8. AnselAdamsX

    AnselAdamsX Subscriber

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    I must be buying the wrong lenses:tongue: They are cheaper this year than last year.
     
  9. StoneNYC

    StoneNYC Inactive

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    As ErikG said, it's the only film still made, of course the backs are going to cost more, and actually 4x5 pack film is still made and distributed in Japan fresh and new so that explains why the 4x5's are still pricey. It's the only polaroid film made...

    In contrast the type 55 stuff isn't made, so the holders are $25 a piece.




    ~Stone | Sent w/ iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  10. Moopheus

    Moopheus Member

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    In this case there would be an upper limit as long as new PA-145s are available. They're not cheap but surely there's no reason to pay more for an old Polaroid holder.
     
  11. Dr Croubie

    Dr Croubie Member

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    In a perfect world, with so-called 'perfect knowledge', yes. But fleabay is not a perfect world, sometimes it benefits the buyers (when sellers don't know what they're selling and one canny buyer knows its true value and noone else notices).
    But sometimes it benefits the sellers (especially when the buyers don't do their research).

    I present exhibit A, the Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f/1.4, brand new at B+H, US$450 for either Multi- or Single-Coated versions.
    Now let me present exhibit B, the exact same lens brand new, sold for €440 on fleabay (US$580). That's the most expensive one that's actually sold, but there are some listed for US$800 up there.

    Again, it's a lens I would like, but I'm not paying more than $300 second-hand. I may eventually give up and buy one new from B+H. Or buy two, and resell one on fleabay for more than I paid at B+H.
    If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.
     
  12. erikg

    erikg Member

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    No, you don't want to be THAT guy. :wink:
     
  13. jcc

    jcc Member

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    Placing the film holder at a premium price will exclude a lot of the consumers from the film, which in turn will be discontinued by Fujifilm because of (surprise!) low demand. They're killing the medium.
     
  14. AgX

    AgX Member

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    The classic approach of the industry was to offer tools (cameras etc.) at resonable or even low prices to gain by that entry into use and sale of their expendables (films etc.).
    Whether this still comes true for Fuji and their packfilm is questionable.
     
  15. xya

    xya Member

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    just bought one holder on the famous auction site for 75€ with "buy-it-now" option from a pro and another one for 25€ only from an ad. it took me about a month to find these. be patient and don't pay that fancy prices.
     
  16. AgX

    AgX Member

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    Oops... Fuji DO offer both types of peel-apart-film holders.
     
  17. StoneNYC

    StoneNYC Inactive

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    Hey USA guys, B&H is selling some 4x5 pack film right now, it's expensive compared to the smaller stuff, but not compared to shipping from china, get it while its hot! (I could only afford 2).


    Sent w/ iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  18. spacer

    spacer Member

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    I'm gonna necro this thread a little bit.

    A few months ago, my daughter and I went to pick up some darkroom supplies from a fellow who was getting out of film. Since I was a student, he told me there wouldn't be any charge for the stuff, but I sent him a check for $40 anyway, just for the principle of the thing.

    Today, while digging around for some stuff to get a pinhole project going, I finally dug into the box he gave me. There's a full range of rollfilm tanks, some chemicals (I'll be careful to check them... or just use it on expired stuff), paper, other assorted supplies, and a mint condition....

    ...
    ...
    405 back! In the box, instructions and all, fully intact! Woot!

    I think I'm gonna start out by building a foamboard pinhole camera around it. I have about 3 packs of fp100c just lying around since I bought that broken Land camera.
    As for the latter, I'm considering either upgrading it with a fully manual LF lens, or just gutting the lensboard and putting a pinhole in that.
     
  19. M Carter

    M Carter Member

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    I kind of doubt that - there are plenty of people cleaning up the old land cameras (I use two of 'em) and using MF (me again) and even 35 polaroid backs (ditto, Nikon Forscher back in the closet). And even so, it wasn't enough to keep 3000 (or the 100 B&W) in production. The number of 4x5 shooters wanting polaroid doesn't seem like it would be a big market boost. Especially since, in the last few years, there just wasn't the 80s/90s era range of emulsions that you could rely on for proofing.

    I'd really guess the price of a newly manufactured pack film back for 4x5 is based on there being a very tiny market for something that probably takes a lot of hand assembly and parts. As for used pricing - if you want to shoot pack film on your Cambo, it's the only game in town.
     
  20. Nokton48

    Nokton48 Member

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    I remember buying a Polaroid #405 new in the box back from a Polaroid distributor in the late seventies. I paid $69 and that was a lot of dough at the time. Now recently I bought one and I thought I got a good deal at a bit under $150. Who would have guessed?
     
  21. fotch

    fotch Member

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    Whats with the Resurrection of old threads today. Seems like some sort of back from the dead movement.
     
  22. Old-N-Feeble

    Old-N-Feeble Subscriber

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    Don't worry about it unless you hear of mass unexplained brain-eating.
     
  23. xya

    xya Member

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    $150 was quite cheap. the inflation calculator http://www.dollartimes.com/calculators/inflation.htm says, that $69 in 1978 is $260.90 now...
     
  24. Nokton48

    Nokton48 Member

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