Like almost everyone else on this spinning ball we call earth, I was locked down for much of 2020. Stuck indoors and living my entire life online, I couldn't go out to shoot, I couldn't go out thrifting, the flea-markets near me were closed, and I lost all motivation to write this blog. This lack of activity seriously left my gear hunting personality galled, and I developed this weird itch for new thrifted gear that needed to be scratched. So, in the absence of physical stores, I took to the next best thing—online thrifting on shopgoodwill.
Online Thrifting in a Locked down world.
I've never been a fan of the auction style when it comes to buying things online. Prices are always driven so high by overly competitive bidders, the experience begins to feel more like extortion than thrifting. Regardless of my views, the online auction stop-gap seemed good enough to help scratch my itch while weathering the lockdowns. By sticking to my principle of not spending too much, I scored a few cameras here and there. You know, the kind of cameras that lack Youtuber hype. Most of the cameras I found worked great, and of course there were a few duds since I was essentially betting on untested cameras.
Getting cameras on shopgoodwill was gradually becoming fun, and I quickly noticed another category of items that carried a decent value—camera bags. Typically these camera bags are a bundle of some camera and its accessories. You can get anything from documentation (like the original camera receipt and manuals) to accessories like flashes, lenses, and light meters.
I remember how excited I was when I received my first bag. The package contained a body-capped Minolta, along with three lenses, a flash gun, manuals, and extra film. Because of the amount of fun I had with this package, I started focusing specifically on these bundles instead of single cameras. For the rest of this post, I will be sharing some of the note-worthy items that shipped along with these camera bags.
Expired Films in Fancy Canisters
Expired rolls of film were the items I encountered most. I could find them already exposed, but most times they were "fresh" unexposed, even sometimes still sealed in their original boxes. Seeing film in a lot always got me excited to bid because it presented me with a unique opportunity to shoot on extinct film stock that is never coming back into production. Of course, the quality of an expired film, especially one that has probably been sitting in a damp attic for decades is not something I'll expect to be great. But, expired film comes with its own aesthetic that some people will kill for. Generally, I like how the images I shoot with them turn out. Most cases, the images tend to be very saturated in reds that pop, and I love that.
Filters, filters filters
Another category of items I encountered most were filters. Although most of these were your typical UV filter folk use for protecting the front elements of their lenses, I noticed that skyline and polarizing filters were also quite common. Occasionally, I will ran into an ND filter, or a set of colored filters that got me excited. But, my most interesting filter find was a set of special effect filters that included rainbow and starburst filters which put a dash of colour and bling to photos.
Flashes of different shapes
Flashes are a film photographers best friend, and it was not surprising to find a flash in almost every bag I got. A lot of the flashes I came across were hotshoe mounted units, that hae extra propreitary connections to the camera in the bag. The most unusual one I have found is a folding Agfalux flash unit that uses a replaceable bulb. It will be nice to try that one someday, if I can ever find a compatible bulb.
Lenses for which I have no cameras
Extra lenses were another recurring feature in these bags. There was usually a prime lens and a zoom lens. In some rare cases, I found lenses in the bag that were not for the camera in the bag. For example, in one bag I found C-mount bolex lenses, and in another I found a mysterious lens that turned out to be for an obscure camera known as the Topcon.
Manuals, Receipts and Documentation
Manuals, receipts, repair job orders, brochures, you name them, I've found them all. These wonderful little documents provide a window into the lives the cameras lived. Receipts obviously give me an idea when and where the camera was bought, who bought it, and how much they paid for it. Repair job orders give me a information on what work might have been done on the camera. Manuals are always good to have, especially when buktus doesn't have it, and brochures provide information about product ranges of the time. History is fun, and sometimes knowing something about a camera you just bought adds a lot more to the camera. It becomes mora about the story around the camera, that the physical device itself.
Awesome camera bags
Finally, I think the bags themselves need some mention. So far, I have about a dozen of these, and two are my carry-everywhere bags. My favourite is a smaller Fujifilm bag that's good for carrying around small point-and-shoots and rangefinders. What I love most about this bag are the elastic loops on the cover flap that holds film canisters. When I am in the mood to lug around an SLR, my favourite bag is one with a special compartment for holding the camera and optional dividiers I can move around to accommodate any extra lenses or film canisters I may be carrying. Of course, I haven't started going out to take photos yet. But I am pretty sure when I do, I will be falling into each of these bags, in one way or the other, to use the wonderful gifts they brought to me.