Buying and Selling

I buy stuff as well as selling it. This is a trading business. And some really nice stuff has walked in through the door at times. But there are a few things involved in that so I had to develop policies, or I'd go broke very quickly. But I insist that policies should be general, ethical, adjustable to circumstance and not set in concrete! A bit radical, but fair to both parties.

If you have something to sell, call me first to check if it's worth the trip. I'll need to know the brand, model and often the details of the lens from the front ring. (Focal length in cm or mm and aperture (i.e. 1:1.4). With interchangeable lens cameras, the lens affects the value. But, a lot depends on overall condition - not just cosmetic condition but things like "Does the shutter work properly at slow speeds, is the lens free of fungus or marks?" Normally I need to examine a camera to establish true value.

NOTE: I am a registered second hand dealer in Victoria and all purchases are recorded with your ID. I am required by law to check and record your full name. age and address, usually from a driving licence.

Please note as well! - I get a lot of phone calls asking me - "I have a Wonca Zenterox 35 and I wondered if you could tell me what it is worth?' Sometimes they want to know what I'd pay for one but often it's obvious that they're going to list it on eBay or Gumtree or insure it and they're looking for a free valuation. That's a bit unfair. They aren't meaning to be cheeky but I am not a free resource. It took me years to develop my knowledge of the market and the gear. You wouldn't expect a registered insurance valuer to work for free, would you? So, I will tell you what I would pay for one, unless I have no interest in it myself. If you want retail market value, do your research yourself please by looking at eBay completed auctions, for instance but remember, those sellers did not check, clean or service their offerings, or guarantee them! If you want a genuine valuation only, for insurance purposes, or a condition assessment before selling I'm happy to do that for you and provide a written appraisal - for a small fee - bring in the gear and I'll check it out for you.

I'd prefer not to come to you. I'm a one-man band so I'm either in the shop or trying to enjoy a day off. So it's really not worth my while to drive distance to look at a couple of cameras which usually turn out to be unexciting, broken or both. I'm not being precious here - it's based on bitter experience. I will travel for large batches or very special items but not otherwise, I'm afraid. I can't afford to do that. But I do live in Belgrave and I drive a fair distance each way so, if you are along the way or in the far eastern suburbs of Melbourne, we might be able to arrange something. 


You're Selling and I'm Buying

I'll buy but only that which I can then resell and if I don't already have a pile of them in stock. It seems sometimes that the whole of Melbourne owns a Pentax MZ-50 with a Sigma lens on it and thinks it's worth at least $100. No it isn't, even if it's working. It's essentially worthless - I give them away sometimes. It's cheap, unreliable, as common as grass...and dull. I want to buy cameras that are in good conditon, working and sought after by users and collectors. Cameras that are fun or interesting to use or to look at. I will buy very old, non-working and damaged cameras if they are unusual or collectible but condition affects price of course. Perhaps one in three of the cameras I buy needs an expensive service before I can resell it.  

I sometimes explain to sellers that this is like any other used and antique business. 75% of what I'm offerred is without value. Some has what I call negative value - it costs me more to have it on the shelf than it can ever earn me. So I will say with some regret that I can't afford to buy it from you at any price.  Around another 20% is worth my while to buy, clean up and resell. That is, someone might show up looking for one in a few month's time, or sometime next year! (It's a small market, even when you are almost the only game in town). The last 5% is the treasures, really good stuff that I really do want or even need. 

So you realise that you have a nice, old, unusual camera in fair condition that you inherited and you want to sell it. You checked ebay and see that three or four sellers are asking up to $1200 for one. Wow!, you think. And you come in and sit it on the counter, expecting me to give you at least $1000 for it. That sounds fair doesn't it? I'll make a quick 20% profit won't I? And you are quite annoyed when I tell you I can only offer you $400.

Well, that one on ebay did't sell for that price - and it never, ever will. And the camera you are showing me is a slightly different and less collectible model, has a cloudy lens, a sticky aperture, bad slow speeds and a few marks on the outside. It'll cost me at least $200 to get it serviced. And I have to sell it with a guarantee, unlike that bloke on ebay or Gumtree! And then of course I have to pay my rent, buy my lunch and, hopefully, make a small profit. So $400 is what it is worth to me. I'm not trying to rip you off -  I really can't afford more and if you decline, at least you got a free condition report. Most people understand all this and accept or decline a fair offer gratefully and/or gracefully. But some do not. Such is life.

I'm Selling and you're Buying

Another reason that I have to buy very carefully is that we try to sell ethically. If I sell you a camera I say is working, I expect you to bring it back if there's a problem so that I can find you a replacement or give you a refund. And I'll do that willingly. So yes I will accept your trade in but only if it meets my needs. I do old-fashioned lay-by as well based on a minimum 25% deposit and if you complete within a month. I'll put something on hold for you for a few days without a deposit - or for longer with a 25% deposit.

This is why my prices are usually a bit higher than you'll see on ebay. You get to handle the item, check that it really is working, that it is in good condition.  You get detailed advice and guidance and you can return it if it's faulty, save a fortune on postage, ebay and Paypal fees, negotiate a discount, make an offer - all the advantages of face to face buying. You can be assured that the camera or accessory has been checked by experienced staff and often by a qualified technician. If you are a long way away, you can ring and ask if I have an item, ask me to look for something or put you on my 'wants' list and I'll do my best to help. 

Trading - both of us are Buying and Selling!

I'll trade in your surplus gear against a purchase but the comments above all apply. Generally I prefer to part trade in - that is, I still get some cash out of the deal. Otherwise my stock just multiplies and I don't progress! Generally I give you a slightly better deal for your used gear as a trade in than if I are just buying it off you. And if you prefer, I'll give you a even bit more than that in store credit against future purchases.

Deceased Estates

I often buy bulk lots off widows, 'old mates' and adult children who've inherited an outfit or collection of unfamiliar equipment. My offers tend to be based on buying the whole lot, junk and good stuff all in together. Condition is often quite poor and the junk usually is just that - junk - so the offer is based on a quick assessment of what is in there. There is no time to test it all excpt . couple of key or special items. Sometimes there is a little treasure there but usually there is not and I often realise afterwards that I've been a bit generous! 

Then there are the less pleasant experiences in this. While visiting a widow a good hour's drive from the store, I was greeted with the apology, "You should have been here yesterday - my daughter dropped by and decided that she'd like a few items as mementoes of her father." Damn.

Strangely the daughter had very, very good taste in keepsakes - the Leica and the two Rolleiflexes! The nice lady was a bit annoyed when she discovered that the offer for the collection had now dropped from well over a thousand to a couple of hundred - but she seemed to be annoyed with me, not her daughter! ("But you said that..."). I wonder if those 'keepsakes' are on ebay yet.


Good quality German and Japanese is always sought so almost anything with a Leica, Zeiss, Contax, Rollei, Hasselblad, Linhof, Schneider branding or good Nikon, Canon, Olympus and similar is welcome, preferably in good working condition as people like to use these.

I am always looking for larger folding (bellows) cameras such as Kodak 3A's and bigger, red bellows cameras, wood and brass cameras, brass lenses, wooden tripods and even trashed wooden cameras in any condition. 

Twin Lens Reflex cameras, good manual lenses of all types, classic 35mm SLR's, working or cosmetically good Pentax Spotmatics and Oly Trips/mju, usable Polaroids, medium format (120) equipment, photo books (monographs), antique Photographica (packaging, adverts, accessories), expired 120 and 35mm film, photography related toys. I often have regular customers actively seeking these items so I can pay a bit more for them as they turn over quickly.

Top quality compacts from the '80's and '90's have become popular recently, especially those with non-zoom lenses but they are common and still not worth a lot with few exceptions.

Old, weird and heavy photographic 'stuff' is welcome - it may be so ugly that you hid it at the back of the garage but some people like big 'industrial' relics. If you don't know what it is, bring or email a photo with your fone, along with any names and model numbers.


I have boxes and boxes full of cheap 1990's compact 35mm plastic cameras - very few of them sell so they are worth nothing to me. Unless they have a name like Leica or Contax on them but even then, not so much. A few, like the Olympus mju-2 with the f2.8mm lens have become popular but that's an odd exception. The same goes for Kodak Instamatics and Disc cameras. There in the shop just in case but I didn't buy them - they came in with bulk lots. We were thinking of nailing them to the wall as a creative display but recently we've hung them all from the ceiling, hundreds of them, to make the point. They are worth THAT little!

Equally, boring low end 1990's SLR's like Canon EOS 3000's and that infamous Pentax MZ-50 are essentially without value - on the whole, film SLR buyers usually want fully manual heavy metal objects like Spotmatics, K1000's and Nikkormats. It doesn't matter to anyone if it is 'as new', in the box, unmarked and hardly had a film through it - you don't want it and neither does anyone else we're afraid. Even the standard 35-70mm zoom lenses don't really suit modern digital cameras - the focal length range is wrong.

Cameras and other gear is worth more if it comes with the original boxes, instruction manuals, lens hoods, leather ‘ever-ready’ cases and straps, etc. In some odd cases the box may be worth more than the camera as collectors like to present their treasures with genuine accessories and very few of the original bboxes survived.

We keep a few 8mm film projectors and cameras, video cameras, slide projectors and the like as service lines but there is hardly any demand for them. Unless the projectors are old and weirdly ornamental or a bit special we can't sell them - seven out of ten of them aren't working anyway even if they look clean and light up and are uneconomical to repair. Often the rubber belts inside have perished away or a new globe for them costs more than the whole unit is worth. We keep a few globes too so ask if you need one but bring the dead one or the correct type code.

Video cassette camcorders are of interest only to someone who wants to do digital transfers - we had a bin full and sold them for peanuts to the occasional customer. I'll was glad when they were all gone and I was not tripping over them any more. In future I'll try and keep one or two each of the three formats in the storeroom - VHS-C, DV and Hi-8 - and some accessories like cables and chargers but that's all!

Enlargers are of little value except for great big ones that can handle 6x9 and 5x4. Most people who are still doing darkroom work already have their top quality gear in place and aren't looking to buy more!

Bits and pieces such as filters and cables and cases and bags and caps and close-up lenses and teleconverters and lens puffer brushes and... They arrive in old kits, form large piles and one day I'll be found deceased under a huge pile of useful 'stuff' that fell on me.  Only a very few top end or 'special fit' bits and genuine bits such as proper lens hoods have any value.

Unfortunately most of what we are offerred falls into the 'Unwants' category above - so there are quite a few hopeful sellers that we disappoint. We accept donations or (sympathetically) offer directions to the local Op shop and landfill. :-(

Avoid disappointment - call first on 04 04 33 00 75 or email with details and I will try to give you a rough idea of value.