Old Movie Cameras: What Collectors Value the Most

Old movie cameras are completely different from the camcorders you buy nowadays from your local electronics store. Today's cameras operate with computers and chips, while old movie cameras did the job with mechanisms and the chemical reaction that occurs when film is exposed to light. In fact, the old cameras didn't even need electricity to operate; instead you just wound them up. However, not every old movie camera is highly valued amongst collectors. There are some that are worth a lot of money and others that you can't even sell at a garage sale. Here is what collectors value the most.

35mm and 16mm vs 8mm

A large factor in determining the quality of an image shot on film is the size of the film stock. Larger sized film stock like 35mm produces a crisp and sharp image when projected on to a large screen in a movie theater, while an 8mm projection on a screen of that size will not look as good. Because of this, 35mm and even 16mm cameras were used for professional shoots while 8mm cameras were used for the amateur filmmaker to make home movies. Due to this distinction in quality, the 16mm and 35mm cameras are more valuable and more rare than their 8mm counterparts in general. There are exceptions to this rule, however, depending on the make and model of the camera.


The condition of the camera makes a huge distinction between a camera being valuable and a camera being garbage. Collectors are looking for a camera they can proudly display in their house, and one that is beat up and rusted will not cut it no matter how rare it is. A little wear and tear can be acceptable, but in general it is frowned upon and can lower the camera's value.

Ideally, the camera should be able to work properly as if it were brand new. Collectors also want a camera that has all of it's parts and accessories. Because these cameras are no longer manufactured, it is difficult to acquire replacement parts. It's possible to buy and sell broken cameras, but they will have a price tag much lower than a properly working camera. Most people are into using and displaying old cameras, not fixing them up.


Rarity also plays a large factor in what is valued the most by collectors. In general, the older the camera, the more prized it is as a collector's item. Cameras from the silent film era are extremely rare and can fetch a high price. Pretty much anything motion picture related that was made by the Edison Manufacturing Company is sought after by collectors, including the inventions that lead up to the motion camera like the Kinetoscope.