Digging for gold

Hunting eBay: Cameras


For our last Hunting eBay post (for now), I’ve turned the focus to cameras. When it comes to photography gear, eBay is packed with listings — occasionally even leaving you wondering where to begin. But even if you’re the type who likes to dig around eBay for store-beating deals on DSLR kits and lenses (free shipping, tax free!), it’s worth your time and money to spend a few minutes diving deeper. Discover the heaps of rare finds there are to be scored.

Here are a few results from this week’s eBayFinders scour to get you started. Both vintage and modern, with an emphasis on rangefinders — arguably the coolest cameras from a bygone era — hopefully this selection in addition to my previous finds will point you in the direction of your next big score.

See my finds after the jump.

Canon Model 7 Rangefinder

Long before the Canon EOS-M, Canon actually made a line of rangefinder cameras culminating with the Canon 7 in the early ’60s. It was a comprehensive camera with features like a robust selector dial, rewind function (for double exposures) and huge viewfinder, all of which quickly dominated its competitors. The Canon 7 also brought with it one of Canon’s most legendary lenses: a 50mm f/0.95, which captured incredible depth of field. Rarer still are the all-black models Canon unofficially made, which are still sought after by many photographers and collectors today.

Bid Now: Here

Zeiss Ikon

If you’ve ever considered buying a Leica film camera like the M7, check out the Zeiss Ikon. A rangefinder (in black or silver), the Ikon is an excellent option for its capabilities as much as its design. An easy-to-use camera — assuming you can load a basic roll of film — the Ikon has automatic or manual metering and exposure and a massive viewfinder that actually shows more than your actual image; this mean it provides the luxury of seeing your subject’s context. It works with any Leica or Carl Zeiss lenses; they can be pricey, but provide phenomenal sharpness and clarity.

Bid Now: Here

Nikon S-3 Yr 2000

In 2000, Nikon reintroduced the S-3 to the in a limited-edition run of 8,000 units. First introduced in 1958 and sold only in Japan, the S-3 originally sold for $6,000. Paired with a Nikkor-S 50mm f/1.4, the millennium was a near duplicate of the original rangefinder right down to its 35mm life-size viewfinder and whisper shutter — a feat accomplished by using cloth shutter curtains. A rare gem.

Bid Now: Here

Leica M3

For about 15 years during the mid ’50s and ’60s, Leica offered the M3 as a jump-off point from its previous cameras. Until then, Leica cameras had been available only with screw-mounts and offered little advancement from their predecessors.

The M3 ushered in not only upgrades in the lens mount, but also a combination viewfinder and rangefinder within a single window. Paired with improved ergonomics and excellent design (an iconic one at that), the M3 became an instant hit. Today, the M3 has been succeeded by the still-sold M7, but the original 35mm remains a stunning machination. In fact, with the Leitz 50mm 1.4 Summilux Lens that’s included in this listing, the M3 is a downright collectible that’s still capable of shooting tremendous still photos — as if it came right out of the box.

Bid Now: Here

Fujifilm Instax Mini 50s

Shooting with a Fujifilm’s Instax instant cameras is a novelty that never grows old. Leave one out when a few friends are over or bring it on your next outing and it quickly becomes the centerpiece of conversation. The Fujifilm Instax Mini 50s Instant Camera may not be a vintage relic, but what it lacks in history it makes up for with consistent performance, reliability and cheap operation. A piano-black exterior doesn’t scream “toy”, and a self-balancing built-in flash, strong low-light capabilities, self-timer and close-up function result in a variety of uses and straightforward shooting. And, of course, it creates collectible prints within a matter of seconds.

Bid Now: Here

Canon 50mm 0.95 TV Lens

It may not be a camera, but the Canon 50mm f/0.95 lens warrants mention as a unique find; several tend to pop up on eBay from time to time. At the time of its release, the lens boasted the largest aperture in the world with a speed four times faster than the human eye. Even today, lenses in excess of f/1.2 remain a rarefied breed.

Today, the Canon 50mm f/0.95 is considered a “dream lens” not because of a desire amongst enthusiasts to own it — though that factors in too — but because of the almost surreal photos that it captures. Neither easy-to-use nor all that sharp, what this lens does offer is the ability to gobble light under any condition and deliver inexplicably shallow depth of field. Need more evidence? Take a look at this flickr pool.

Note: this lens is for a Leica M-mount.

Bid Now: Here

Contax G2

Another great rangefinder (to some one of the greatest) is the Contax G2. Released in 1996 two years after its predecessor, the G2 brought unique technology that made it an extremely advanced rangefinder for the time — along with the gibes of a few naysayers who felt newfangled capabilities like auto-focus didn’t belong in a proper rangefinder. Arguments aside, the G2 offers excellent ergonomics that make it a joy to use: silky smooth auto-focus, auto-exposure, auto-loading/advance, TTL metering, and incredible build quality rivaling even Leica. Paired with sublime Zeiss-made lenses (Zeiss licensed the Contax name to Kyocera, who built the cameras entirely in Japan), the Contax remains one of the best and easiest film cameras to shoot with. It’s no wonder Ansel Adams shot with a Contax in 35mm. Examples this way.

Bid Now: Here