It was in late January that something whispered in my ear, “Hey, link your PayPal and your eBay account.” The thought had never occurred to me before. Don’t ask. Sometimes, I miss the most obvious things. Anyway, the moment my two accounts merged was both brilliant and harrowing. Brilliant in that my purchases wouldn’t affect my bank account, and harrowing in that I couldn’t stop once I began combing the listings for vintage rangefinders. I’ve always had a fondness for old cameras of Yashica’s ilk, but I’d never owned one. With a side pot of cash and eBay’s endless treasure trove at my finger tips, it was only a matter of time before a ’70s era rangefinder would join my family.
Something said, “Don’t bid. Just watch.” It was, I learned, a smart impulse, as I was able to track how the price changed, if at all, during the bidding period. I was new to this game, and it was one that I hoped I could play well enough. There are obvious misgivings when it comes to bidding on used items on a platform where one hopes that the auctioneer is an honest fellow. Images can be deceiving, as are exceptionally low prices. The words “for parts/not working” are not immediately visible, and if you pull the trigger before aiming, you’ll find you missed the mark. I learned that somewhat the hard way with my first acquisition: the Yashica Electro 35 GT, an all-black beauty. I have yet to get mine to work as I haven’t had sufficient time to effectively troubleshoot. Yes, it’s been nearly five months, but with everything I’ve got going on, it’s hard to find sufficient time to dedicate to a DIY repair. It is wonderful to look at, and my hope is that I’ll be able to use it someday.
The rush of winning my first auction left me wanting more. The syncopated rhythm of constantly trying to one-up anonymous, trigger-happy foes was intoxicating. “You bid $15.00.” The amount flashes red, signaling that someone somewhere is one step ahead of me. I had to think faster and open my wallet a little wider. I typed “Yashica” into the search field, and perused page after page of camera after camera. I would later learn that I could tailor my results. Forgive my naïveté! I was a bidding neophyte. I needed time to learn. During my second bidding race, I happened upon the Yashica 35MF, a zone focus camera from 1976. A blog post by Canadian photographer Gary Seronik clued me in to the 35MF’s value, and I knew that I had to have it. I paid close attention to the bidding period’s end time, and swooped in the final minutes to make my mark.
My second success gave me such a rise, but the beast wasn’t sated. I typed frenetically, and scanned the listings faster than I’ve read any book. My eyes hunted for key words and prices that were well within my range as I am not a rich man. To date, I’ve never paid more than $30 , barring shipping, for any of the cameras shown in this post. The average price I paid was around $17. I should mention that I have had my fair share of losses, and it took some time to nurse my wounds.
The main problem I found was coördinating my schedule alongside the end time of a bidding period. I work five nights a week, and the use of cell phones is generally frowned upon. The iOS eBay app quickly became my best friend and worst enemy. Whenever it vibrate and jingled, I knew that there was fifteen minutes left, and I tried to wait patiently until the final minute. I took impromptu bathroom breaks so that I could strike down my virtual foe, and claim the photographic chalice that was rightfully mine.
Of course, the obvious question is: Do any of these cameras work? I can attest to two of them working: the Yashica 35MF and the Konica C35 Automatic. The latter suffered a bad fall, and I fear it is out of commission. I currently have a roll in the beauty pictured above, and I’m about 10 frames from dropping it off at B&H. I’ve yet to load film into the Minolta Hi-Matic AF, the Konica C35 V and the Yashica MG-1. That will come in time.
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