I got back into town and headed over to the annual Camera Show and swap meet here in town. I thought I would pass along some observations and notes from conversations I had with a number of the vendors.
Almost all of the vendors selling 35mm agree that digital is driving the market for used SLRs and rangefinders all most out of existence for profitability. Prices are getting so low on Nikons and Cannons that no one wants to part with gear unless as part of a trade due to the low prices that have to be offered. I picked up 2 Nikon FE2s for $65 each and a long sought after Nikon FA for $150. So you can only imagine what the dealers paid for these cameras. I saw mint F3s and F4s going for under $300.
There was virtually no MF gear this year. Dealers tell me that so much was dumped on the market the last few years that it is not worth buying and taking to shows. Just a couple of years ago there were tables lined with Hassys, Mamiya 645s, RB67s, Pentax systems etc. There still is a very good market for lenses and accessories for MF, I was told by one vendor, but he sells it all on Ebay.
The one real bright spot was LF in all sizes. Midwest Photo had a table and Jim told me that the current level of sales for 4x5 and 8x10 are incredible in light of the trend towards digital. I talked to several browsers who were looking at Jim's offerings who said they were getting back into LF after being away for many years. Jim told me that they quickly move all the 8x10 and ULF stuff that comes through the store..
There was not the large selection of LF cameras that I have seen in previous years, and except for a few exceptions most of it was pretty much junk. No Deardorffs this year. Several dealers said they do have them ,but only sell them on Ebay because they can get much better prices then at a show such as this one.
My particular bargains were found here. I picked up some 2500 series JOBO 4x5 drums with reel for $2 each, and a very nice 16x20 Seal Mounting Press for $100. The press needs a new cord but otherwise works fine.
The darkroom stuff was also much less then in previous shows and I found the few enlargers offered to be pretty much junk. No 35mm or 4x5 enlargers at all. Just a lot of old Omega and Bessler MF. One dealer I know suggested that a lot of darkroom equipment has pretty much cycled through the photographic market place from labs and basement boxes to new homes. He said 3 years ago people were always approaching him about buying their darkroom gear or entire photo labs worth of stuff. Now it is new people who are piecing together first time darkrooms and are looking for a few specific items that they have not yet found or won at auction on Ebay.
Here is one of the most encouraging pieces of information. One dealer told me that he talks to people, espeically college age students who get into dgital and become dissapointed with the results when they realize it takes a lot more of an investment to get quality results. These students are looking into setting up darkrooms and getting into MF and LF at bargain prices. he was extemely optimistic. He felt that there will never be a better time to get into MF and LF. Cameras and lenses sell for fractions of what they were new, and enlargers are almost given away.
I thought some might be interested in the various takes from vendors who hav been dealing with selling used gear for a number of years.