Your Guide to Buying Vintage Camera Accessories

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Your Guide to Buying Vintage Camera Accessories

The digital age has meant that digital cameras are now within most people's budget whether they are buying a compact camera, a bridge camera, or, for the keen amateur or professional, a DSLR. However, the enthusiast may still wish to own an SLR film camera for the difference in quality of photographs and for the ability to experiment with developing photographs and learning new skills that are not needed for digital photography. There is a booming market for vintage camera accessories, both for SLR film cameras and digital SLR cameras, because many vintage camera accessories, such as lenses, can be used to a certain extent with digital SLR (DSLR) cameras. Some vintage camera accessories are a better buy than others, and it is important to know what to look out for when buying second hand or vintage accessories for a camera. Some vintage accessories that are popular to buy include lenses, filters, camera bags, and the SLR film cameras themselves. There are many different places to try and find vintage camera accessories, with the main ones being specialist second-hand camera shops, car boots sales or markets, and eBay. Each place to buy these accessories has some pros and cons, but if the buyer arms themselves with knowledge about the accessories that they are looking for, then a successful purchase can usually be made.

What to Look Out for When Buying Vintage Camera Accessories

For anyone considering buying vintage camera accessories, it is important to note that as these accessories may be anything from a few years to decades old, they can vary in quality and condition; therefore, knowing what to look out for when making a second-hand purchase can be useful.


There are many different lenses available for purchase, such as macro, wide angle, and zoom lens.. Popular fixed focal length lenses include 35mm and 50mm. When purchasing vintage lenses, firstly ensure that the lens is compatible with the type of camera it is being bought for. For example, a Nikon lens has more chance of working with a vintage Nikon camera, but not all lenses and cameras are interchangeable. For those people that are buying vintage lenses to work with a digital SLR, be aware that auto-focus will not work with vintage lenses. Look out for scratches and also any mould or mildew on the lenses if they are very old as these can greatly affect the photograph quality. If the mould is on the outside of the lens, it is possible to clean it off, but often it will appear between the glass of the lens and would not be a good purchase.

Vintage SLR film camera

Whilst not an accessory, many people like to own more than one vintage SLR camera in order to experiment with the differences in the cameras and explore their functions. When looking to buy a vintage camera, options to think about include what functions are needed on the camera and what time period the camera was manufactured in. There are many second-hand cameras available that were made in the 1970's and 1980's, with brands such as Olympus being popular. For someone new to using film, rather than digital, very cheap film SLR cameras, such as an electrical store’s own brand cameras (e.g. Cosina), can be picked up fairly freely. When buying a vintage film SLR camera, make sure that if it is being purchases from a shop, that it is available to see in fully working order, and for the components such as lens and viewfinder to be scratch-free. Another thing to look out for is that the seal around the camera back is not degraded. The seal is vital because if it is eroded at all, light will get into the camera and ruin the film. Some vintage cameras were made with a seal that, over time, turns into a liquid and becomes sticky. It can be easy for a person with some expert knowledge on vintage cameras to reseal the camera, but it is worth checking the seal for any erosion or disintegration before purchase.

Camera bags

For vintage camera enthusiasts, it is often nice to buy vintage camera bags to hold the cameras, especially if the enthusiast is a collector and has many different cameras. As people clear out their lofts or those of their elderly parents perhaps, vintage camera bags are one thing that are making a reappearance, and different types can be found both in second-hand camera shops and on eBay.


In the digital age, filters are used in photography less often than in years gone by. With digital photography, a photograph can have a filter added to it in post-production. With film photography, the filter is necessary when taking the photograph. There are many different types of filters, such as skylight, star filter, coloured filters, and polarised filters. As with lenses, look out for any scratches when buying. Also, ensure that the filter will fit the lens and camera it is being purchased to work with. There are often mount or attachment systems available to buy that will enable to fit a filter to different types of lenses.

Places to Buy Vintage Camera Accessories

Car boot sale

Car boot sales offer the option of finding a real bargain as people empty their lofts and cupboards looking for things to sell and do not always know the value of the items they are selling. This can be a plus point, but on the downside, the seller may not be able to offer much information about the item. Shopping at a car boot sale for vintage camera accessories, works best when the buyer has a certain level of knowledge him or herself. Another positive aspect of buying at a car boot sale is that the item being considered for purchase can be inspected, and if already in possession of a vintage camera, the item, e.g. the lens, can be tested with the camera if the seller agrees. The condition of the accessory can be seen first-hand, which assists with the purchase and any haggling that may be done on price. If a specific vintage camera accessory is being sought, it may be better to search a site such as eBay, for example, as there would be a larger choice of items for sale.

Second-hand camera shop

The biggest plus point for buying used camera accessories in a second-hand camera shop is the level of knowledge often offered by the shop staff. Many shops have expert staff who are camera enthusiasts and who can help a great deal with a purchase. Large shops in London, for example, will often have a great range of accessories as they buy second-hand items from people wishing to sell their cameras and accessories. It may be possible to find a rare or unique item or accessory, and while the price will reflect the item’s worth, and a bargain similar to that at a car boot sale is unlikely to be had, it is worth taking a look in second-hand camera shops for the staff knowledge and assistance alone.


The main benefit to buying vintage camera accessories on eBay is that the items available for sale are not restricted to what people are selling in the local area. If a particular camera accessory or camera is sought, then eBay can be the best choice of place to buy. By searching regularly on the site, a suitable item can often be found. If the eBay listing is detailed, with good-quality photographs, then buying vintage camera accessories from eBay should be reliable. It is important before buying a camera accessory on eBay to inspect the photograph for any signs of damage, and check with the seller if there are any questions that have not been answered in the description.


Many different types vintage camera accessory are available, from lenses, to filters, camera bags, and SLR film cameras themselves. Once a camera or camera accessory has been purchased, it will need to be given due care and attention to keep it in good condition. Vintage accessories can be delicate and require looking after to ensure they are not scratched or damaged. If they are looked after correctly, they can last for a great many more years and provide enjoyment for vintage camera enthusiasts.

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