Thrifting for Film Cameras in Ohio

There's one thing in particular that I'm really looking forward to when I next visit the United States: hunting through thrift stores for bargains. I love all sorts of vintage and retro items, but top of my list is film cameras.

Of course, we have thrift stores here in Australia (we call them "op shops") but we don't tend to have the same volume of photographic equipment as you do in the states, so hunting for a pre-loved item is often a frustrating experience. 

With a huge upswing in the popularity of film in recent times, there's been a corresponding increase in the price of film cameras too. The big question is, are there still bargains to be found at American thrift stores?

Thanks to this entertaining video from Dave Mihaly The Old Camera Guy, I don't have to wait until my next visit to the USA. Mihaly takes us shopping through twelve thrift stores in Ohio looking for film cameras. He sifts through items on the shelves, telling us what he's found while giving us a running commentary of what he thinks the items are worth. At the end of the video, Mihaly reveals what he bought as well as giving us some insights into the current state of thrifting for cameras. 

So did Mihaly snare any bargains on his hunt? You'll have to watch the video to find out. What's the best thrift store bargain you've had? Tell us in the comments. 

Matt Murray's picture

Matt Murray is a travel, portrait and stock photographer from Brisbane, Australia.

Matt is an avid film photographer and hosts an analogue photography podcast 'Matt Loves Cameras' featuring reviews of classic film and instant cameras.

Matt also hosts a new photography YouTube channel Matt Loves Cameras.

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Olympus OM2, new old stock with 50mm F1.4 & 35–70 mm F3.5–4.8 compete in original boxes with original bag and a small selection of filters, found 2 years ago in a charity shop for £5, I was a happy bunny that day.

Wow, great deal for a great camera!

Found a working condition Nishika N8000 with case for $5 at a household sale. Non-functional ones are going for ~$75 on eBay just to be stripped for parts, while working ones can fetch anywhere from $125-225 depending on condition and if the flash is included. Quite the lucky find!

Very lucky find! I looked at them on eBay years ago when they were about $100, wish I'd bought one now!

My most interesting finds: Olympus OM-2, 50mm f1.2(!!!) a couple of entry level zooms, a strobe, two bags, and a crummy tripod for $25 at an estate sale. A gorgeous Yashica Electro GSN with case for $10 at a thrift store. Minolta Freedom Escort for $2 at another thrift store. Konica C35 af for a quarter at a garage sale. I've passed up several Canon AE1s for $10ish recently (how many do I need?). Countless point and shoots that I'll pick up for a buck just to shoot the remaining frames of film in the camera and see what the prior owner shot.

Around the lower Midwest, either people/thrift stores think they have something and want film-tested ebay prices for cameras that clearly need love, or they ditch cameras that are ready to go for rock-bottom prices.

Wow, nice finds! I've picked up a couple of cameras cheaper than the market rate, but nothing that good sadly!