Books on Classic Cameras

by Karen Nakamura


Camera Price Guides

I use mainly two price guides when shopping for classic cameras. The first is Michael McBroom's Camera Bluebook.

McBroom, Michael. 2000.
     McBroom's Camera Bluebook 6th Edition. 
Buffalo: NY: Amherst Media. ISBN: 1-58428-013-1 <= purchase at

McBroom's is a great text for cameras that are meant to be used and not stared at behind a glass display case. He covers film cameras from the 1960s-1990s, mostly 35mm SLRs (Canon FD/EOS, Contax/Yashica, Leica R, Minolta MD & Maxxum, Nikon, Olympus OM, Pentax Screw & K), some 35mm rangefinders (Leica SM & R, Hasselblad X-Pan, Olympus Pen), some medium format (Bronica, Contax, Fuji, Hasselblad, Mamiya, Pentax, Rollei), and some miscellany (Speed Graphics, APS, and very old digital cameras). The prices are in the rough ballpark. The descriptions are very helpful and since he's writing from the user and not collector perspective, this book is particularly good.

The book is now a bit dated in terms of prices (the ebay phenomenon), but the descriptions are still excellent. Many times he will explain features of cameras in details as well as differences between similar models.

The other textbook that I use is McKeown's Price Guide to Antique and Classic Cameras. This book is literally the bible, both in size and thoroughness. It is about the size of the Manhattan yellow pages (900+ pages). McKeown's covers almost every collectible camera out there -- but the emphasis is on collectibles -- things that people put behind glass. So while he has a lot of favorites of mine, he gives scant attention to real good user cameras. Also, this is a price guide, he only gives enough information needed to identify the camera, and then the estimated price. He doesn't say if it's a good performing lens or a good camera for such and such purpose (McBroom above does give those kind of comments). So while it's useful for identifying a camera and establishing a ballpark price (some things are way too cheap, others too expensive), one shouldn't rely on it too much. Nonetheless, this is a book that every classic camera user and collector should have.

The previous 2001 edition is now out of print and there's now a 2005-2006 edition. I haven't had a chance to check it out yet but I hear that it's very good. Not all the prices are adjusted for the camera deflation caused by the shift to digital and ebay.

McKeown, James and Joan McKeown (ed.) 
     McKeown's Price Guide to Antique and Classic 
     Cameras 2005-2006.
Grantsburg, WI: Centennial Photo Services. ISBN: 093183-84-01 <= purchase at





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