Tips and Advice on Buying Vintage Cameras

Camera Collecting is a great hobby and a fun way to learn about history and photography. There are many places to find good deals on all kinds of cameras. The main places are auctions, garage or estate sales, and Camera Shows.

If you are serious about collecting vintage cameras you will want to have McKeown's Price Guide to Antique and Classic Cameras It is the authorative reference on vintage cameras. I call it " The Camera Phone Book " and it is larger than the yellow pages for most major cites. It has over 40,000 cameras and over 10,000 photos. It has more cameras than any other single source. I am constantly using mine to check on cameras which haven't been sold on ebay in the last few months. Even with this expansive listing there are still some cameras which are not in the book and some varitions not listed. Hopefully someday this site will have as many cameras! It may take a life time or more!


eBay is one of my favorite places to buy and sell vintage cameras. You don't get the " hands on " experience of getting to see the camera for yourself, but the prices can't be beat. You can usually buy 3 cameras for the price of one in a vintage camera store or at a camera show. Of course there are exceptions and very rare cameras can command thousands of dollars in an eBay auction.

eBay has an interesting bidding system, where an auction takes place over a period of time and then ends. It is typical of many bidders to wait until the very last moment before bidding, so as not to enter into a " bidding war " with other eBayers. The practise of waiting until the last minute to bid is known as " sniping " an auction. Some people sit around waiting for the auctions to end, but many use automatic programs to place their bid at the last second. I have found a great website that makes sniping items on eBay quick and easy. There is no more waiting around and no leaving the computer running 24 hours a day. The website is You can sign up using either of the links on this page. If you choose not to use my links now, but join later, please tell them that eBay user Dr_camera referred you on the sign up page! It's safe and easy to sign up, and it's free! You get three free snipes just for signing up! - Powerful eBay sniping solutions.
Powerful eBay sniping solutions.

Auction Sniping works very well, but remember, you have to bid high enough to win! That's the real fun and art of eBay sniping. You set your max bid and stick to it. If it's a popular item there is probably someone else out there sniping the item as well. The trick it to place a bid higher then the other bidders, but not higher than you want to pay!

eBay can be a great place to shop with lots of great deals, but there is also lots of old junk. Read the descriptions of each item carefully and make sure the seller is reputable. Beware of scam artists and read sellers feedback ratings! If a deal seems too good to be true it probably is, especially in new digital cameras and high end electronics.

If you have never tried eBay before, what are you waiting for? It's quick and easy to sign up! And if you sign up using the link below and buy an item on eBay in the next 30 days you will be helping support the museum with commissions from eBay.

My eBay user name is dr_camera and my eBay store is called: The Virtual Camera Museum . You can check out my eBay store and see some items and have a chance to bid on the actual cameras before they are added to the museum! If you ever see anyone under a different user name trying to sell cameras using the QTVR movies from the virtual camera museum it is a scam. If I ever change my user name I will update this page.

Live Auctions

Live auctions can be a great place to find old cameras, if you are a very lucky person. The best place to find deals are in auctions that aren't specifically camera related. If you go to an estate auction where there happens to be a few cameras you can usually have them for a song since there is little competition. On the other hand major auction houses such as Sotheby's and Christie's have several auctions a year dedicated solely to cameras. At these auctions some of the wealthiest camera collectors are present. Usually only cameras that are very rare and in exceptional condition are in these auctions. The prices at these kinds of auctions can vary widely, and can be insanely high. The most expensive cameras ever sold were sold at auctions for over 200,000 dollars.

Garage / Yard / Estate Sales

Those sales you see signs for on the weekend can be a great place to find vintage cameras. Estate sales are especially good. Great Grandpas camera that's been in the attic may be being sold by someone who has no idea how valuable it really is. Estate sales that are run by professional estate dealers may have artificially high prices on common cameras, so be skeptical of high prices. Make sure to check out the item to make sure its in good shape and don't be afraid to bargain!

Camera Shows

Camera Shows are a great place to get to see and interact with a huge variety of cameras you might not be able to afford. You can also meet lots of interesting people. The problem is that camera shows are few and far between. Prices at camera shows are usually a good deal higher than comparable cameras on eBay, although there are still bargains to be found !

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