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Suzie Place

Thrift Store Classic Camera Diary

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by , 11-02-2008 at 02:41 AM (6443 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 02:24 AM by Suzie Place



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  1. haclil's Avatar
    My experiences at Thrift stores in central NY State are similarly disappointing.

    Maybe I shouldn't speculate coz these stores do a great service to their communities.

    Nonetheless, I wonder whether the staff don't "skim off" some of the higher-end things that come in.
  2. Eric Mac's Avatar
    Our church has a rummage sale twice a year. Last year we had a couple of people from a neighboring parish come by as they were contemplating having a sale of their own and were interested in advice on how to set up, etc. One question was how to get volunteers to work the sale. " Oh that's easy, we allow the volunteers to shop while they sort." I haven't scored any good camera equipment yet, but my stereo gets upgraded every year.
  3. Suzie Place's Avatar
    I have an update for the first camera I bought---The Minolta Hi-Matic 9. Just got the pics back. They're the BEST photos I ever took! I had a high end SLR 25 years ago, but the pictures from this Rangefinder are better.
    A camera store clerk set the shutter and diaphragm for me. The shutter did not close at all speeds, but he told me I could still do portraits.
    I took full length portraits with ten 60 watt light bulbs and good northern window light. The Hi-Matic 9 had NO BATTERY! I used 800 film and set the lens barrel. For shutter and diaphragm the setting was 5.8 and 125 (I think). The focus was nine feet. I only got 15 shots developed because I had mangled the film.
    The clarity is great. They look superior to the shots I've made with large lens digital compacts--which is exactly what I'd hoped for. And of course, they have that wonderful analog look!
    Updated 11-04-2008 at 11:28 PM by Suzie Place
  4. Suzie Place's Avatar
    Last weekend I went to Hayward and San Leandro in search of classic stainless steel clad Japanese cameras.
    At Thrift Center in south Hayward I was delighted to buy a Yashica Minister for 99 cents. Later, I discovered the shutter button is not working. At ECO Thrift, I got an Epson PhotoPC 700 1MB Digital for two bucks. It works fine. At Thrift Town in San Leandro there was an old Sears Rangefinder, kind of ugly.

    So...........fifty miles, three stores, a broken but sweet Yashica Minister purchased for a buck and a stone-age digital for two bucks. One not-so-pretty Sears Rangefinder left behind.
  5. Suzie Place's Avatar
    Went to Marin. Went to 12 thrift stores in south Marin County. Nothing. I bought a stone-age Olympus digital with an odd dead battery for four bucks. However, I did buy a full length fox coat for $50 in Mill Valley.

    So.........sixty miles, $4 bridge fare, one primitive digital camera purchased. Unreasonable prices for junk. I hate Marin County---always have. A nice place to buy furs though!
    Updated 11-05-2008 at 08:06 PM by Suzie Place
  6. Shelley-Ann's Avatar
    I managed to pick up an Olympus XA2 with A11 flash for $5 at the Value Village on bloor/landsdowne. I've gone there again a few times, but I haven't been so lucky again.
  7. k_jupiter's Avatar
    Hmmmm... $50 German Range Finder?

    Ya might have missed the best bargain of all. Have you priced a Zeiss Super Ikonta?

    tim (sometime thrift shopper) in san jose
  8. 's Avatar
    Portland has been a dream city for thrift store camera scores. My short list of scores!
    Pentax spotmatic II
    Canon Canonet QL17 GIII
    Pentax ME Super, in all black
    Minolta Himatic 11
    Canon AF35ML (future classic if you ask me)
    A pair of vivitar 283's and other assorted filters and lenses too numerous to remember. This all in only the past year!
  9. afildes's Avatar
    You got an Oly 2020 for $10 - brilliant. That's a cult camera for digital infra-red imaging - there's one in my bag now and it cost me a lot more than that. Put a dark red 43mm filter on it and see (get one from China on ebay).
    Sorry - wrong place - but I'm also an unrepentant collector of veteran digital cameras - y'know, like more than five years old. Oh and antique ones - more than ten years old. :-)
  10. naeroscatu's Avatar
    I check Thriftstores in my area regularly. Last week-end I got a Nikon F for $14.99 at the Value Village. Beat-up, looks like it went through the Vietnam war (perhaps it did) but still ticking. I replaced the mirror bumper and cleaned up dust from the ground glass. I've run a roll of film through it and look forward to see how it does.
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