What should I do with these vintage motion and still film cameras?
August 31, 2010 4:10 PM   Subscribe

I have found myself in the possession of a few interesting vintage motion and still film cameras which look to be in great shape, including cases and manuals. While they look neat, I know nothing about them. I tried googling them, but couldn't find anything specific enough to help me decide what I should do with them. I'd like to know if they're worth anything and where I can look to find how much they're going for and where I might advertise them. Specifics and photos inside...

Here are the items:

FILMO Auto Load Bell & Howell Company (Bolex?) 16mm camera with case.

The Minolta "16" still camera with case and manuals.

Canon AE-1 with FD lens. Includes case and manuals. (This one isn't vintage and I'm not sure if it's something I can use and should keep or should sell.)


posted by bestillme to Media & Arts (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I miss film. I used the AE-1 in college - it's a good sturdy manual camera, and if you think of dabbling in film based photography or darkroom work you should hang on to it. You can get all kinds of great Canon lenses for it, and I still think shooting slide film is pretty neat.

A quick search of ebay showed that AE-1s and Filmos are currently selling for under $100. They are both beautiful and high quality cameras, so I'd probably hang on to them as decorative items and wait for the upcoming film revival. (It's coming. I want to believe.)
posted by abirae at 4:27 PM on August 31, 2010

Response by poster: Oops, that post slipped away... I tried posting a hyperlink but I'm not sure how to do it. I think you can get to the photos through the address I posted. Thank you everyone for your help! Looking forward to your shared expertise!
posted by bestillme at 4:45 PM on August 31, 2010

Sadly (or not) the demand for 16mm film cameras is a thing of the past. When I was a film student, it was common to see those old Filmo cameras going for about $400-$600, depending on the lenses. A good Bolex could once fetch up to 2K. Darn you HD video revolution! (or not)
posted by cazoo at 5:48 PM on August 31, 2010

Bolex is a Swiss company and have never worked in partnership with Bell & Howell to build a camera - at least to my knowledge.

A Bolex will be worth a lot more than a Bell & Howell...
posted by cinemafiend at 7:27 PM on August 31, 2010

Also - although that Bell & Howell loads 16 mm film, it is actually slit down the middle and becomes 8 mm during the development process. You shoot half of the 16 mm reel, flip the reel in the camera or in a light bag, and then shoot the other half. (Its a Bell & Howell Double 8 FILMO)

You should be able to find a manual online or via a 8 mm listserv...
posted by cinemafiend at 7:36 PM on August 31, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for the information everyone. So, what do other people do with these things? They're pretty neat looking. Does everyone have an old camera in their closet? If the Bell & Howell or Minolta won't fetch much, can I donate it somewhere where it can actually serve some purpose?

Abirae - Thanks for the tip. I think you have a good point about the Canon. I'm most attached to that one anyway since it belonged to a close relative. Question: Even if I have the camera, won't it become obsolete if no one is making the film it requires?

Cinemafiend - Thanks for the clarification. I had a feeling I had the Bolex thing wrong. Will do another search using "8 mm."

Thanks again! Looking forward to further suggestions on how to put these items to good use.
posted by bestillme at 8:06 PM on August 31, 2010

Does everyone have an old camera in their closet?

Yes. It was my grandfather's old 8mm movie camera. I used it during college (before video cameras) to make stop-action films ("Gumby and Pokey and the Temple of Doom"). And I had all the old 8mm films transferred to DVD for my parents' 50th anniversary.

Other than that, it just stays in the closet.
posted by CathyG at 9:29 PM on August 31, 2010

If the AE-1 is a 35mm film camera (I used to have one), I'm not sure you have to worry so so much about the film not being made for quite a while.

I could be wrong, of course, but from what I've seen on Flickr and whatnot, there's been a bit of a resurgence in interest about film photography, and of course 35mm is the most prominent, so I would expect it to stick around for quite a while. Something like 110mm...eh, that might be iffy. But 35mm I wouldn't worry terribly about.
posted by Ouisch at 11:56 AM on September 2, 2010

(However, good quality 35mm SLRs with sturdy cases are getting harder and harder to find. I would seriously hold onto that Canon if you have any interest in still film photography.)
posted by Ouisch at 11:58 AM on September 2, 2010

Response by poster: Hi everyone!

I've since come across yet another camera. I think this is the last of them though. It's an Olympus OM-1. You can see photos here:


A google search tells me that they're selling for $80 or so, but I thought I'd turn to Mefi's experts since my last search proved to be misleading.

Your comments have been very helpful and I've decided to keep one camera-- only now I don't know if it should be the Cannon or Olympus.

Ouisch - Thanks for educating me about the 35mm film. I do like photography and did take a b&w class ages ago... so might be wise to hang on to one of these cameras.

Thanks in advance!
posted by bestillme at 12:19 PM on September 3, 2010

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