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The 3 R's of dealing with an old camera

The 3 R's of dealing with an old camera

With the Holiday Season coming up, you might be hoping for a brand new camera under the tree. I hope you are on Santa's list and that he is generous with you!

Now, have you considered what to do with your 'old' camera? Maybe you are a collector and you'll want to keep your good old buddy that accompanied you everywhere and made you happy when you caught 'The Moment'.

Even if you are not a sentimental, it is still easy to end up with a collection of disused and dusty digital boxes that don't get to see the light of day any longer. If some camera models and well known brands retain some of their value, most digital cameras quickly lose their worth in this ever changing world and quest for new technology.

What to do then, with your used camera now relegated to the darkest corner of the closet? There are really three options to consider and a slightly modified version of the 3 R's can be applied: Resell, Reuse, Recycle.

Here are a couple of things to consider before deciding the best option:

  • Examine the camera and assess how old it is, whether it is still in good shape or if it is badly banged up and scratched. If it is in good shape and can be sold again, carefully wipe the camera clean, delete all images and re-formate any memory cards that will go with it. Gather all the accessories and the instruction manual that came with the camera. This will increase the value of the whole package;
  • If it still remembers the tumbles it took on your exhilarating excursion to Grand Canyon a few years ago or if there is still sand encrusted from your last vacation at the beach, it is not going to have much value. But do not despair! Your old companion might find a new life somewhere.

1. Resell your used camera

The preferred option of course is to resell your camera if it still has value and is in good shape. There are several ways to do so:

  • using the popular classified listing Craigslist where people look for bargain prices;
  • putting the camera for auction on eBay;
  • sell the equipment directly to your favourite local camera shop;
  • sell it to used camera buyers that can easily be found online, such as used camera buyer, Kodak's Trade-In Center or Adorama. With a simple mouse click you will be able to get a quote and know what to expect from those buyers.

2. Reuse your old camera

There are many ways to ensure that your camera gets reused, for example as a hand-me-down to someone you know or by simple donation to a school or organization that will put it in the hands of someone who wants to give photography a try. This might spark an interest in a child who never had the chance to hold a camera or it may help a school group with a photography project.

If you are in the UK, you might want to consider donating your camera to The Disabled Photographers' Society. They accept unwanted photo equipement and books for their members.

Thrift stores always welcome old cameras and these include Emmaüs (mostly in Europe), Oxfam, the Salvation Army, etc.

If the camera is no longer working or usable, you might consider leaving it with a repair shop that will dismantle it and reuse parts of it to repair other cameras in need of some TLC. These pieces can become very useful especially now that some big companies do not provide repair parts for older DSLR camera models.

3. Recycle your tired camera

Old or broken digital cameras and their batteries, whether they are small compacts or DSLRs, should not be tossed into the garbage. They contain valuable rare earth elements as well as toxins that are dangerous for the environment. This means they should be handled and recycled properly. It is easy now to find a recycling centre that will dispose of the unusable parts and retrieve what can be salvaged. Here are some organizations that will help recycle your old camera properly:

Finding a new life for a used camera is not that difficult after all. This should make everyone feel better about what to do if there is a new camera under the Christmas tree this year! What will you do with your old camera?

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About the Author

Sophie Pasquet

Sophie Pasquet

Sophie has been a photographer, educator and traveller for most of her adult life. She founded Better Paris Photos in 2008 (which became Better Travel Photos in 2014) to deliver exceptional photography experiences to travellers.

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