Guide to value

NOTE: This blog post was written in Aprin 2021 and it covers value of photography tools (such as films, papers).
True value of analog photography are something else and was discovered by me far later. 

It is always hard to open the book. 

I've decide to be fair (does not mean cheap) and explain how I calculate the value of my collection. Like a good journalist I will never reveal the sources, read: supply and logistic, but I'm happy to explain how I calculate the value of my collection: analog cameras, vintage photographic papers or expired films. 

First, it is a collection.

Value - for me - is not about merchandise. Each object - analog camera, vintage paper, expired film, dark room equipment, ect - was treated with respect to its soul. Each has a feeling associated with, and a history behind it. Not only mine, but all those years from the past. So, please consider it while plunging into the depths of my collections, please read the description as I'm trying (sometimes) to unveil the mystery of the object, little bit more than dry description and price.

Second, benchmark to modern equivalent.

Technically, the way I benchmark value of the object is to compare it to modern (current, as for spring 2021) equivalent. It is not always possible or straight forward to do, but still something worth to try. What will be equivalent to Certo SL 110 camera? Dinner for two? (hahaha). While we are talking about vintage papers or expired films, equivalent can be easily find. Online stores are full of modern photographic papers and films, but the questions is - are those any better than discontinued Foton's, Brovira's or ORWO's? I think - and this is my personal opinion and important factor to the value of my collection - those that I've tested and confirmed working - are at least as good as the modern & fresh ones. Due to vintage look and feel and their soul.... why not even more?! Since soul isn't for sell, let's leave it and stay on "as good as the modern".

Third, quality and condition

I'm using vintage papers, films, cameras, dark room in my day-by-day adventure with analog photography. Testing it is not my goal. Testing is a side effect of what I love, I've found it useful for others and I wish to share it, so... I will not consider value of my collection in terms of hours and hours of my life spend with those cameras, films papers and equipment. But please be aware of that. 

Papers... what I will consider is just a fact that opened box of papers sounds for people less valuable to sealed one. Wrong! After checking analog photographic papers from an opened box, or after opening it myself, I'm trashing about 30% of it.  Those value is zero. Blured, smoked, overexposed, flooded or smells like anus of the troll. Trashed. What left... it has "working condition" - I will be using it myself or you can pick some if you like from my collection of vintage papers. So.. [TESTED] values to me more than [SEALED].
Also, sealed box... is a cat in the bag. tiger or rat. if it was collected together with others boxes that I've tested and I'm more or less convinced that was stored together, I'm saying that I'm "actively and successfully using papers from the same origin". That means there is a higher chance for the tiger rather than the rat. But still, it is the cat in the bag. 

Cameras... each one I'm collecting I'm using heavily. Not just one film. I'm giving them a lot of food to see how they behave full and happy. Only then I'm making the decision if I should keep it on my collection or dump it into history dustbin and forgot forever. 

Films... not many left and it is not easy to obtain vintage analog films. As it is rare, I'm not using it every-time, and also, I think, I'm doing completely opposite way to the most of my analog photo friends. They using vintage films for testing cameras, I think it's wrong and I'm sad when I'm hearing they are doing it. I'm testing cameras with cheapest Foma, and I'm using 40 years old OWRO (as explained in my guide to expired film) for street photo, portraits, studio... or just having it loaded into camera always near me. 

In terms of testing on expired films, the trick is to have a few from the same origin. Only then you can provide some testing, check how does it behave currently and keep a hint for the next roll. otherwise is just another cat in the bag. (Which in fact I love, but I'm not (yet?) adding single-collected-film to my collection).  

Little bit of math at the end.

So, once we know a) my collection is not yet-another-online-store, b)  equivalent, c) condition factors - let's do some maths to show the value. 

Example 1. Vintage photographic paper.

Comparison site is Google Merchant Center. Just do search for "ilford 13x18 fb" and you will see the prices. As for today, March 2021 I'm seeing in 2,9 PLN per sheet of 13x18 fiber paper, or 0,46 GBP in UK.


So, that is the benchmark for any fiber (baryta) paper in my collection that has size of 13x18. Of course you could say that this is unfair as I'm comparing multigrade good quality Ilford to constant grading vintage ones - you are right. I know what I'm doing. Constant grade fiber Foma is about 1,8 PLN per sheet, but really - are you gona use it? I doubt. You wouldn't rather buy constant grade fiber from Foma, as when you will need baryte, you know that quality matters for you, and you will more likely go for multigrade Ilford. Right? (I hope so, as I never bought new paper, so I'm bit guessing here and I vote for highest popular quality :)

So, benchmark as per today, mid March 2012, accoding to my findings
1,9 PLN per sheet of 13x18
X,X PLN per sheet of 18x24 (same story with GMC)
X,X PLN per sheet of 24x30 (again... uncle Gugle will tell you) 

what about smaller ones? AFAIK smaller sizes are not produced anymore, weird but I haven't found it, so it should be recalculated from bigger sizes, let's try like that
9x13 or 9x14 is more-or-less 1/4 square size of 18x24, so X,X PLN per sheet 
6,5x9,5 or 7,5x10,5 is more-of-less 1/10 of 24x30, so X,X PLN per sheet

Now the rest should go smoothly

  • value should not be higher than benchmark. it could be - but for some good reason like for example...  #PS3, which is totally unique carton with amazing surface and vintage look and feel. so - the value for me is even a little bit higher to benchmark.... or Brovira... master of puppets in b&w analog photography! Don't tell me you could buy something modern like Brovira? Remember multiplier 1.1 for "uniqueness".
  • brand, like in any industry there are brands that are more popular and valuable than others, even with no connection to real product quality but ... Foton is for sure less valuable than ORWO, and ORWO less than Agfa... so final value should cover this grade and for sake of simplicity I decided to use a factor of 0,6 - 0,75 of benchmark value for Foton (Fotochemica? Argenta?), 0,75 - 0,9 for ORWO (Kodak? Kentmare?) and 0,85 - 1.1 for Agfa. 
  • then quality and condition filter as mentioned in point third: sealed or tested? what was the result of tests? Again - my factor for sealed will be from 0,5 to 0,75 and for tested... 0,5 - 1.5... it is really depends on testing results. less than 0.5 I should dump to trash, usually I think tested will be around 0,8 of the banchmark value * unique condition * vendor.
I think that's it. math will do the rest, so I hope I've explained it and the value has been compromised now. if not - let me know I will do it again. 


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