|By dw_ross from Springfield, VA, USA (20121213_1371) |
[CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)],
via Wikimedia Commons
I'm a long-time Nikon SLR owner. But I let it go.
Some owners baby their cameras. Others toss them in a backpack and neglect them. And there's no hard-and-fast rule about which holds up better. SLR cameras of the 1970s and 80s were built with metal frames, but plastic soon took over. If you find a $10 Nikon in a thrift store, it's likely to need more than a dusting off and a fresh battery.
Compact point-and-shoots are a mixed bag, however. My $5 Canon Sure Shot Supreme operates as good as new. Earlier Nikon point-and-shoots, while seemingly more rugged, don't appear to withstand as much neglect. Almost none of the thrift-store film cameras I've found are water-resistant models; if they weren't damaged by sea water, sand in the mechanism is a likely deal-breaker.
Brands worth considering:
- Olympus Infinity and Accura models seem to hold up well. Canon Sure Shots are also fairly rugged, but are known for noisy film-winding mechanisms.
- Ricoh and Pentax point-and-shoot cameras are less durable. Yashicas, Minoltas, and Konicas are all over the map in terms of build quality. Polaroids are generally trashworthy; unless they use 35mm film, you should just skip them. (Ricoh built a slew of cameras for Sears to sell under their own brand. The Sears models are no better.)
- Nikon: not sure. Their later point-and-shoots were well-regarded. Earlier models seem to show their age.
- Fujifilm made some great lenses for their point-and-shoots – and then built some models with hard-to-replace batteries. If you can’t access the battery compartment, it’s not worth buying.
- A few early Kodak 35mm cameras (K12, K14, VR, etc) were built to last. Some K-series cameras may require hard-to-find batteries. Later Kodak cameras (S, KE, and Star series) were a little less sturdy and had cheaper lenses, and may not be long for this world.
- Not worth considering: Ansco, Concord, Jazz, etc. These were $10 cameras when new, and almost none of them will operate as intended.