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Ways to Find Your Own Prices
I receive a lot of email requests for camera price estimates. Even if I did see their personal camera and hold it in my hand (and I don't do appraisals), I could only truly tell them what it would be worth to me, and giving out information whenever someone asks takes time. So, I refer people to my Auction Price Table, where they can look up what others have been paying, on average, for similar Mamiya equipment.

That being said, there are a great many buyers out there, and each one will have a different idea about value. Some are buying them for resale to special customers. Customers they know will pay a premium for specific models in good condition. Others merely collect for themselves. If they already have several, guess how they're going to value yours. My pages show you the average values - and help you understand the factors that go into an evaluation. Listed below are my recommendations for finding the value of your Mamiya photographic equipment (or any equipment, for that matter).

Buy a Price Guide
There are several publications on the market that provide guidance on how much a camera is worth. Most of us who collect cameras, myself included, have several of them. The operative word is "guidance." You really need a certain level of expertise in the subject matter, in order to use a price guide effectively. Anyone can look up the numbers, but a consideration of the guide itself, its date of publication, the true condition of the item, the current mood of the market, the time of year, and a litany of other factors are mandatory to know, in order to establish the value of a camera, even when when using a price guide. I also recommend that people consider more than one source.

However, if you are only going to use one guide, McKeown's 2005-2006 Price Guide To Antique & Classic Cameras is a staple item on the current bookshelf of most knowledgable collectors.

Oh yes, one other thing - something a great many people forget (and occasionally want to blame me for). In order for something to have value, you have to find a buyer. Believe me, it does not matter what a thousand price guides say...an old camera is only worth the amount which you can find someone willing to pay you for it.

On-Line Camera Price Guides
Online guides can be great resources, but don't expect them to be free. You'll find a few people will post a bit of information about it, like I do, for the love of the art. But when you're researching and maintaining a database of auction values it gets to be expensive, and you'll find that you will generally need to pay for it.

If you're not willing to do a lot of research and monitor the market yourself, these services are well worth what you pay for them. The providers are people who put a lot of effort into their work and actually ask very little for what they provide.

If you are serious about some aspect of camera collecting, look up other good sites that I frequent from time-to-time, like Dan Colucci's Antique & Classic Cameras, or What's It Worth to You?

On-Line Auction Services
I often recommend people search on eBay to discover prices. That comment is sure to get some flack, but the eBay auction site is still far-and-away the market leader, has a great search tool, and unless you really have a very rare item (which you probably don't, despite seeing that adjective plastered all over eBay auctions), you're eventually going to find an auction for what you seek. Some people tell me you can't get the true value of things watching eBay, but I don't believe that. You can't get a much more accurate value than an actual sale.

Of course, the data is admittedly shakey if it's only based on one auction result. So, I recommend that you get several data points before you cast any value in sand (they should never be set in stone). For instance, my pricing tables have been derived from almost ten years of auction watching. That is, quite literally, thousands of auctions! The prices listed are averages, with some items that sold for considerably more than the listed price, while some went for considerably less.

Certified Antique Appraisal Services
This is not free. Nor should it be. Good information on monetary matters should be paid for. There are a lot of antique appraisers that charge for their services. These people have put a lot of research into their expertise and have gone to the effort of proving, or certifying, their credibility. Most are certified...however, some are not. Those who have taken the time to be credible deserve to be paid for their services. But don't be fooled into thinking your camera is an "antique" (and valuable) just because it's old. More than likely, it's not.

Valuable Tip: Don't be tricked by people who try to convince you they know what they're doing by saying things like, Of course I know. I've been in this business more than thirty years. Just admitting to personally being an antique doesn't make anyone an expert in them!

Camera Dealers
Always remember, a dealer's whole business philosophy is to buy low and sell high. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Just don't anticipate a dealer is going to be your best buddy and provide you with a high retail value estimate for that camera you're selling! You won't get a bargain-basement sale price on a camera you want to purchase from them, and you won't get a high-end offer to buy the camera you want to sell...so don't expect one.

Camera Collectors
This is probably the least credible source of valuation. I know, because I am a collector. Expect a collector to tell you what they have "seen" cameras being sold for (isn't that, after all, what my pricing table is all about?) We generally know what we can expect to pay for a specific camera, but we also know the actual selling price may not really represent its value and, just like we are always looking for that "one special camera" we are also always looking for a deal!

Remember when I mentioned a seller needs a buyer for something to have value? I've turned down magnificent items with reasonable prices that I just could not get excited about. On the other hand, collectors may spend months, or years, looking the world over for a specific item.

When they find it, in reasonable condition (and sometimes even when it's not), they are going to buy it. Period. Cost is often a non-issue for them at that point! And if, by chance, there are several people interested at the same time, it may become absurdly high-priced.

As a collector, I am certainly going to try to avoid paying more than I should, but if this is the one camera needed to finish my collection, and I know I will wait months, or even years, to see it again - if ever - a little voice will whisper "you have to have it" and the price, at that moment in time, will rise. I guarantee it.

So, What's the True Value?
I say this in many ways, in many places throughout my web site, and I can personally attest to it: please don't ever think the price tag on the vintage camera in a display case is the real value. The price tag only reflects the price at which it's for sale. It's true value, at any given time, is the price for which it is sold!

So, if you're told your camera is only worth $40 and you decide that $100 is the least you will take for it, then by all means, hold out for the buyer who will pay you that much. No matter how long it takes (just don't be surprised if it takes a long, long time)! On the other hand, if you found it for a few bucks in a yard sale and you're just trying to get rid of it, then take the $40 offer, consider yourself lucky, and go on to the next camera!

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