MF hardware price outlook

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What will happen to MF hardware prices in about 5 years?

  • Stay more or less the same

    Votes: 5 11.6%
  • Go steadily up

    Votes: 26 60.5%
  • Go wildly up

    Votes: 2 4.7%
  • Go steadily down

    Votes: 9 20.9%
  • Go wildly down

    Votes: 1 2.3%

  • Total voters
    43

piero2022

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I just came back to photography, after doing a lot of small format up until 2008. What I remember from that period was that:

- MF was way out of my league, pricewise
- I could buy a nice camera, like a Nikon F100, for about eur/us$200, and a small camera like the F(N)80 for about eur/us$80

Right now, you can buy a Rolleiflex 6008 with a Xenotar 2.8 for about eur/us$1500, which is an unbelievably high quality combo.

Since I am in the position of building up my lens system, I am wondering whether I should get the lenses I need now, or I should take my time, because prices will inexorably go down.

I tend to think that as a general trend, analog hardware will just go lower and lower, and also at some point the hipsters with accounts on lomography.com will get tired and put their stashes on ebay.

Also, two things that should keep the Rollei 6000 system prices in check are that you cannot really adapt the lenses on Sony bodies and you cannot put a digital back on them, but still, some lenses have just disappeared from the market at any price (Distagon 4.0, Xenotar 2.0, Tele-Xenar 150mm and others) and I also saw some "for sale" posts from 2015 where prices where half of what they are now.

What to do? I would be bitter to see the same lens half the price in 12 months, but it would also be bitter to not see the lens for sale at all...
 

1kgcoffee

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Unlike digital, film bodies and lenses tend to hold their value quite well. The durable and well maintained mechanical ones should be fine. Electronic cameras will slowly start to fail, and working exampls of the mamiya 7 and fuji 645 will rise in value. There is a large and growing interest in film and finite supply in cameras. People with the money to shoot film don't want to waste time taking apart cameras.

Those who want the film experience and vintage 'look' will start turning to cheaper systems like the TLR and folder of which there are many. I don't see anything that's well taken care of coming down in value.
 

abruzzi

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total supply is fixed or slowly decreasing (and cameras and lenses are damaged or lost.) Supply for sale is decreasing at a more rapid rate becuase of hoarders or "collectors" or just the common--"I keep buying until I find the model I like, but I don't take the time to sell the others" mindset. So unless demand decreases significantly, we won't see prices going down. I suspect the already increasing prices have leveled off demand to an extent. There was a lot of demand when you could get a Hassleblad 500 system for $400, but now that they're $1500, more people are looking elsewhere.
 

DWThomas

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Seems like a multi-part question, but a few comments. A rambling through the big auction site suggests every other household in China makes adapters to put old lenses on new digital cameras. As such, there will be some increasing demand for lenses. Admittedly most of that activity targets 35mm gear, but there are some adapters for medium format. That seems to have been pushing up prices on some things like Canon FD lenses, at least some models.

The cameras may have a little less demand increase, but one needs to remember MF cameras were never sold at anywhere near the quantities of the smaller formats. Much MF gear has been out of production for decades and there is the inevitable loss to fire, flood, corrosion and wear and tear. So the pool of available gear is shrinking. And world population still appears to be growing. So while the percentage of people shooting film may be in decline, the absolute number might not be.

I have built up a fair set of Bronica gear and have tried to rein in my acquisition of 'stuff' but in general I approach with the notion that "a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush."

My 1.3 (after tax) cents,
 

Paul Howell

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Unlike large sensor digital bodies, film resolution is the limit to the quality of lens you really need, if a lens will resolve Tmax 100 at 200LPM it is all you need. Next is distortion, MF lens were for the most part made for the professional, with exception of bottom feeder TLR it is hard to find a MF lens that will distort, most are good wide to stopped down to F22 or 32. Last is boka, due to shallower depth of field MF has inherent good boka. Rolliflex TLRs are is repairable, not sure about the SLR. Maybe in your part of the world, not so much in the U.S. If I had the money to spend on a MF SLR system it would be classic Hassy, repairable, lots of lens and gear, of course the lens will stand up to any lens system on the market, and you can find working used digital backs. I have a Kowa SL66 system and Mamiya Universal, between the 2 I usually take the Mamiya for the 6X9 negative.
 

btaylor

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I bought a fair amount of high quality MF gear 5-10 years ago (the dumping of analogue for digital had mostly subsided) and much of it has doubled in value since then. But who knows what market forces will do in the next 5 years? Buy what you want today while you can, that’s what I would do.
 

Sirius Glass

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The MF price local minimum [to use a calculus term] occurred between 2000 and 2015 roughly and now the prices are rising as the glut of equipment dumped by the professional switching to digital has dried up. One of the big benefits of the digital revolution is that it caused the MF prices to drop to the point that even someone like me could afford them.
 

faberryman

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Yes, film camera prices have risen precipitously, so there is no better time than the present to get out of film and into digital.
 
Last edited:

Nitroplait

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If MF hardware pricing is a big concern I wouldn't bother about MF. The running cost of shooting MF is generally quite a bit higher than 35mm - where there are still many hardware bargains to be had.
MF is just not an area you venture into if you have economic concerns.
 
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piero2022

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The running cost of shooting MF is generally quite a bit higher than 35mm.

Not in my case. I shoot b/w film, mostly by Foma (about euro 6/roll) which I develop and scan. So running costs are film, a bottle of Rodinal every year and fixer.

It’s really a matter to choose the right moment to buy equipment so to maximize what I can buy, hence the question.
 

Sirius Glass

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If MF hardware pricing is a big concern I wouldn't bother about MF. The running cost of shooting MF is generally quite a bit higher than 35mm - where there are still many hardware bargains to be had.
MF is just not an area you venture into if you have economic concerns.

Definitely not. I have my equipment and using it is still much cheaper for me to use than digital. Besides I greatly prefer it to digital and I like holding a real silver print in my hands than a bunch of invisible '0's and '1's.
 

Tel

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Definitely not. I have my equipment and using it is still much cheaper for me to use than digital. Besides I greatly prefer it to digital and I like holding a real silver print in my hands than a bunch of invisible '0's and '1's.
Ditto that. I've stocked up on 120 (and 127) and long ago learned how to develop my own.
 

Don Heisz

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I like holding a real silver print in my hands than a bunch of invisible '0's and '1's.

You know you can print digital photos, right?


Anyway - don't worry about the cost of medium format gear, just go straight to 4x5. You save money because it takes 20 minutes to take one photo.
 

Paul Howell

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With my Crown hand held, I shot 50 sheets in an hour at the Pima Air Space Museum, could have shot more if I had brought more film.
 

Sirius Glass

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You know you can print digital photos, right?


Anyway - don't worry about the cost of medium format gear, just go straight to 4x5. You save money because it takes 20 minutes to take one photo.

A print on a floppy sheet of paper on a floppy sheet of paper in no way equates to a silver print, in this universe.
 

Don Heisz

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With my Crown hand held, I shot 50 sheets in an hour at the Pima Air Space Museum, could have shot more if I had brought more film.

I was joking about the 20 minutes to take a 4x5 picture. But...
Were all 50 shots worth looking at? I'm not implying they weren't, I'm genuinely asking.
 

guangong

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I shoot 35mm, MF, and 4x5. Having said that, 35mm is the most versatile, as proven by history after the introduction of the original Leica. Also, 35mm is perfect for grab shots, not to mention the wide selection of lenses. MF cameras require a little more deliberation but with a larger negative, and a larger camera and lenses. So while grab shots are difficult, other pics benefit from the larger negative. (Rolleis were once used for press photography, but were rapidly replaced by 35mm). LF requires a great deal of concentration and is not suitable for casual shooting. Also, the larger the LF, the more deliberative. All three have their place.
As for when to buy. If you are on a fixed income, buy equipment now if you live in US. Inflation is only beginning. Last year I paid $250+- a gal for gas, yesterday $5.65. While at gas station fire truck filling up with diesel...almost $1,000. And it’s not going to end soon.
 

ic-racer

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In inflation-corrected dollars, all my MF gear is worth less on the used market today. For example my mint condition 40mm Distagon in original box cost $2000 in 1993. KEH has offered $300 cash recently.

My near mint Rollei SLX cost $700 in 1985, and I only got $250 when I recently sold it.
 

4season

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Although I don't think Rolleiflex 600x will be a good long-term "investment", if you see the lenses that you want, and the prices seem okay, buy them! My impression is that the 6000-series didn't sell particularly well in the USA, but if demand is limited, so is the supply, particularly if you seek the specific version of the lens which is most compatible with your particular model of camera body (PQ?) and don't wish to buy complete systems in order to acquire the one or two pieces that you actually want.
 

Sirius Glass

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In inflation-corrected dollars, all my MF gear is worth less on the used market today. For example my mint condition 40mm Distagon in original box cost $2000 in 1993. KEH has offered $300 cash recently.

My near mint Rollei SLX cost $700 in 1985, and I only got $250 when I recently sold it.

That proves my point. With that, I can easily pay for the MF film.
 

ic-racer

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Since I have the 'inflation calculator' pulled up, I put in the price I paid for my near mint Rolleiflex 2.8F Planar.
Cost $800 in 1984 that translates to $2,226.06. So, I'm glad I used it all these years and did not plan on selling it to fund my retirement.
 

ic-racer

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Here is another one, I found a BRAND NEW Rolleiflex 3003 kit in original big silver box in 1996 (baby medium format :smile: ). It was $1700. I'd need to sell it for more than $3,132 to break even today.

Planar-S 120mm cost me $1200 in 2001, now would need to get $1,960 to break even. Realistic price around $300 so I'm keeping it. Still works fine in stop-down mode on the 6008 but won't work on the Hy6.
Unknown.jpeg
 
Last edited:

Paul Howell

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I was joking about the 20 minutes to take a 4x5 picture. But...
Were all 50 shots worth looking at? I'm not implying they weren't, I'm genuinely asking.

No, I think 35 or so are worth printing, the day I was there it was somewhat overcast, soft lighting even at midday. As I was shooting handheld even with Foma 400 shot at 320 I wanted to keep my shutter speed up, so depth of field was not ideal. In reality I could have done as well with 6X9.
 
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