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Suzie Place

Thrift Store Classic Camera Diary

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by , 11-02-2008 at 01:41 AM (6396 Views)
I thought I'd give everyone a taste of what the Thrift Store experience is like in the San Francisco Bay Area.

It all began in August when I got the notion to buy an analog camera.
My best bet was Thrift Town in El Sobrante. There I bought a Minolta Hi-Matic 9 for 15 bucks. I liked it's James Bond looks, but was disapointed when I realized that the Hi-Matic 9 was not an SLR. I put the camera in the closet and forgot about it.
Later, I decided to try again. I went to Thrift Town again and bought a Minolta SRT 101 for 20 dollars. The bug hit me when I googled up the two old Minoltas. Moreover, I got the Rangefinder bug specifically at that point.

Armed with new found knowledge I took a trip canvassing East Bay thrift stores:
El Cerrito---two stores, a few pocket cameras.
El Sobrante---Thrift Town had a German Rangefinder for 50 bucks. Across the street, just pocket cameras.
Pleasant Hill---All five stores but one had just pocket cameras, except St Vincent De Paul, which had a Yashica Minister with a broken rewind lever. I did buy an Olympus Camedia C-2020 Z digital 2.1 MB for ten bucks. This was the only digital I have seen at a Thrift. I use the digital to teach my friends how to pose. Also, a nice Velbon Videomate 300 tripod for $10.
Walnut Creek---Just pocket cameras for all four
Lafayette---Just pocket cameras at both Thrift Stores.

So...........three automobile trips, fifteen different Thrift Stores, five cities, four purchases, one trashed Yashica Minister and a German camera left behind.
any questions?

Updated 11-18-2008 at 01:24 AM by Suzie Place



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  1. Suzie Place's Avatar
    Went to the city of Alameda. Three thrift stores. Just a few compacts.
    Regarding the digitals, two of the three I bought required ten more dollars to get running. One is too ugly to use as a gift.
  2. Suzie Place's Avatar
    Went to American Cancer Society Store in Walnut Creek. The clerk pulled out two big bags full of lenses. I paid $50 for a Canon TL QL and an AT-1. Both shutters work.
    I left behind about a dozen lenses.

    Not much on the internet regarding the Canon TL QL or the AT-1. I thought Canon was a good brand, but their owners don't seem to have much enthusiasm. Got the battery for the At-1 for $8 at Walgreen's, so I now have my first powered up classic camera.

    I'm in a bad mood since I did a shoot this morning with no film in my Hi-Matic 9. A lot of work for naught.
    Updated 11-18-2008 at 01:19 AM by Suzie Place
  3. Suzie Place's Avatar
    I need to learn how to fix stuck shutters. I came across three Rangefinders with stuck shutters. A Konica, a Canonet and a Minister D. Had to leave them behind. They all wanted high prices for non-functioning cameras.
    I did buy a Mini-Lux Mini-Cool for five bucks. I thought it was just a small lamp until it almost burned my house down. Now my lighting needs are fulfilled! But I need another tripod for it.
    Then, at a junk dealer, I got a Weston Master II light meter for ten bucks and a Canon Speedlight 199a for fifteen bucks.
    Updated 11-18-2008 at 01:16 AM by Suzie Place
  4. ford prefect's Avatar
    i used to work part time as a second job at a certain chain style thrift store (name withheld to protect the innocent) and when sorting we all took first picks even tho company policy forbade it and the best part was other coworkers set the price for you i got a set of almost new $400 golf clubs for 10 bucks once but i also scored a canon T90 and an old b&w 35mm enlarger for $5 as well as fome fd mount lenses. so yes that is what happens
  5. Suzie Place's Avatar
    I used to work in one too. We weren't allowed to get diddly. The "Charity" managers was too busy sending the good stuff to Japan----and pocketing the proceeds. Nietzsche said that altruism does not exist. A case in point.
  6. Suzie Place's Avatar
    Recently I got a:

    Canon T50 w 1.8 lens for $17. Broken.
    Hollywood Cadet tripod $5.
    SLIK Universal U-102 tripod $6.
    Mahogany tripod $2.
    Tungsten lamp w 150watt bulb $1.
    Canon Sureshot SD 500, no card w charger $10.
    Epson Perfection 3200 scanner without film rack, charger or software for $15
    Minolta Auto200X flash w case $4.
    Promatic FTD 4000 flash $4 in box, corroded.
    Pentax A3000 ready to go with batteries $14.
    Minolta Freedom Dual compact 25cents.
    Canon Shure Shot broken $3.
    SV Kenlock 200 SQ tripod $6.
    Pentax camera bag 25 cents.
    Sears Auto 35 $4

    And the piece de resistance, a Canon AF35ML w case for $10. One of the guys on this blog called the AF35ML a "future classic". It "has the fastest lens of any automatic compact camera ever". It has all the convenience of a Canon Sure Shot with the big lens of a Canonet. It is light and compact. I think the AF35ML gets put in the junker bins because they are dark and not as brilliant looking as the older cameras. I put normal batteries in and it functions well so far. The integral flash should make my life easier, because I'm getting tired of lugging around a lot of gear.

    I almost bought a new DSLR yesterday. It took me about a day to figure out that it only had a lens the size of my Canon Sure Shot. I told the clerk, "I need at least a 1.7 lens." She replied, "A lens that size will cost you thousands." I said: "I've got a bunch of old cameras for less than $20 with even bigger lenses." Sometimes I don't know just what kind of consumer I really am.

    Updated 12-14-2008 at 07:48 PM by Suzie Place
  7. BennettV's Avatar
    Most of us love to shop. However, now that our economy is not in its greatest shape that most of us are in a very tight budget. So sales ads and thrift shops seem like haven to purchase a lot of things. Buying bulk is always a good idea, as you can stock up for quite some time and save a lot of green over the long run. Keeping a keen eye on what is going for cheap in your area grocery stores can save you a lot of money if you keep to it. You can keep from wondering about installment loans to keep the shelves stocked by clipping coupons.
  8. Mike Wilde's Avatar
    I find that people find out that I still use old film cameras, and then give thier old ones to me. I recently went to a photo swap with gear I had mostly been gifted or found at deep discount and restored, and sold about $400 worth. That allows a lot of cash for other things, so the ocassional 'retail used' purchase can be made.

    I do love to hear of thrift finds, but don't come up with the deals as much as when my kids were younger, wife was at home with them, and almost everything 'semi-durable' we needed came from a thrift.

    Now my new bad old camera habit is being sourced by going to liquidation/misdirected frieght/estate auctions.

    Pentax Spotmatic with functioning meter cell in worn eveready case with clean 50 f/1.4 super takumar $20. New light seals for $10 (thanks Jon Goodman, down in Texas). Shot five rolls in it, and then sold it at the camera swap for $65.
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