What to Do With Your Old Camera? Here Are Six Ideas

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Somehow, an older digital or film camera is occupying space on a shelf in your closet, or taking up room in a drawer somewhere. Or, maybe a loved one has died and his or her photography gear has been entrusted to you. Or, maybe you just decided to hang on to that early-model 6-megapixel DSLR that you used 10 years ago.

People often ask me, "Todd, what can I do with old photo equipment?”

Well, besides the obvious, there are some interesting options that can give your camera gear new life, help others, or maybe even reinvigorate your own love for photography.

Here is a quick list, followed by a more comprehensive look at each option:

1. Sell

2. Donate to Schools

3. Donate to Charities

4. Repurpose

5. Backup

6. Use

Sell

If you need some cash to buy more photo gear, you can sell your camera equipment.

Locally, you could drop it off at a consignment shop in the hopes that a collector or hoarder comes across your once-loved camera and lenses and decides they cannot live without all of it. You could also list your gear on an auction website and see if you can stir up a bidding war among strangers. Additionally, you can put an ad in the local newspaper classified section or website.

If you want to maximize convenience, you can easily sell your gear to B&H and let us resell it. The B&H Used Department will tell you exactly how much you will get for your gear, and we will even pay to ship the gear to our SuperStore in New York City. You can get a check in the mail or a store credit with which you can then feed your current camera or electronics buying habits.

A word of caution: if you are passionate about photography, your chance of regretting selling your very first camera is approximately 100%. Regardless of the make or model, you might want to hold onto that camera. I know many photographers who still have their first camera and I know many who regret no longer having that bit of personal history.

Donate to schools

An often overlooked option is donating your gear to a good cause.

You can likely find a local charity or thrift store that would have no hesitation about taking gear off your hands, but dig a bit deeper and you might find some, arguably, more deserving outlets. Check with your local high school to see if they teach photography as part of their art program. Likely, they would love to be able to give or loan your film camera gear to a student who might not have the financial means to acquire his or her own. They might also warmly embrace your dusty darkroom equipment.

In fact, any educational institution—from grade schools to community colleges to art schools—may accept your donated camera gear.

Donate to charities

There are several photography-related charities that accept used gear.

The Film Photography Project donates film cameras to school and student programs around the world.

Recycling for Charities recycles electronics and gives the value of what you send them to a charity of your choice.

PhotoVoice builds participatory photography and storytelling self-advocacy projects for socially excluded groups in the UK and internationally.

The One Shot Project provides cameras to young disadvantaged children in Iraq.

Josephine Herrick Project (formerly Rehabilitation Through Photography) provides free photographic education programs to children, teens, adults, and seniors.

NYC Salt engages students through professionally led volunteer instruction in photography and digital technology.

Definitely do some Internet searching to find other charities that might want your gear. Non-profit organizations are sometimes very happy to have donated camera equipment at their disposal. And your donation will very likely be tax deductible.

Regardless of the value of your gear, you cannot put a price on the act of giving your photo equipment to a worthy cause. You never know; your camera could end up in the hands of the world's next great photographic artist.

Repurpose

Having something newer, faster, or shinier might be just what you need in order to use your older camera and lenses for something fun.

Have you ever wanted to experiment with infrared photography? Or, have you thought about making your own homemade lens mount to affix random old lenses to your camera? This might be a great time to try something outside of the box. What about converting your old film camera into a pinhole camera? That might be a fun thing to try.

You can get cheap imported knick-knacks from your local home accessory store, or you can put your cool cameras on the living room shelf. I've decorated with a few cameras, but sometimes I take them out to go get some exercise.

Backup

Of course, an older, slower digital camera can be put into duty as a trusty backup for that new digital camera. Electronics and mechanicals are not infallible, and your trusty new steed might not be so trusty one day. Having a backup camera within reach might save the day, be it on a commercial shoot or remote vacation. Or, on occasion, you might have the opportunity to do a photo shoot in which your camera could be subject to bodily harm—photographing on a boat, at the beach, against a rock wall, wing-suit flying, parasailing, etc. Shoots of this type might be best reserved for your older gear, rather than putting your newer, more expensive gear at risk.

Use

You might already be on your fourth or fifth generation of digital camera. If that were the case, you'd be hard pressed for a reason to take your old digital camera out for a stroll. Why would you go out to shoot a 6-megapixel Nikon D100 when your D500's battery is fully charged?

But, a film camera might be another story. Film is film and not subject to the ridiculously short half-life of digital technology. Therefore, as long as the camera's shutter and/or the lens's aperture diaphragm are working, you can go out and shoot a roll of film. There is something liberating about not having to worry about histograms, batteries, checking your LCD after every shot, or spending hours in front of your computer downloading and processing images after a day of shooting.

Here is a bold idea: take your film camera on your next vacation and leave your digital stuff behind. Do you remember vacation photo albums that you could show your friends?

Film still has a place in the world so, just because you have been shooting digitally for months or years, don't think that your film camera is suddenly a doorstop or a paperweight. Get out and shoot some film!

Pass it on

The last place your camera should end up is: the rubbish pile. Sell it, give it to someone who could really use it, experiment, or just keep using it. A good camera can be passed from one generation to the next.

122 Comments

Hi!  Great article!  I started a photo club at my kids K-6 school in Phoenix and the kids love using the old cameras I was able to get donated by others.  The smaller point and shoot sizes are perfect for their little hands and as they get more experince I let them use the larger DSLRs.  We'd gladly take any donations :)

Hi Erin,

I will shoot you an email so that we can keep in touch!

Thanks!

Getting ready to move and downsizing...I have 3 small digital cameras in good working condition looking for a home: Fujifilm finepixJX 16MP, Casio Exilim (EX-512)12.1 mp and Olympus Camedia D-540 3.2MP. Also, Canon Vixia HG20 handheld camcorder. All have charging cables/chargers for battery, and camcorder has mini HDMI to HDMI cable and case. Know of anyone who can give these a good home?

Hi Laima,   I started a photo club at my kids K-6 school in Phoenix and the kids love using the old cameras I was able to get donated by others.  We'd love to get some additional cameras so the kids don't have to share in class...  I'd be happy to pay for the shipping and get you a tax write off donation form.  my email is erinkenly@yahoo.com

Hello there, I'm Thai, Male, 47 Years old, use to be photographer but it's end in 2012 from Hyperthyroidism,

it's knock me down so hard I'm been a bedridden for almost 5 years, and my Doctor call it "fail medication"

and send me to have Radioactive Iodine, so I start to get better almost immediately, but still have to take care all the consequence such as

DISORDER OF LIPOPROTEIN METABOLISM.
CHRONIC KIDNEY DISEASE STAGE 3,
NON-INSULIN DEPENDENT DIABETES
MELLITUS THYROTOXICOSIS,
HYPERTENSION,
DEPRESSIVE

By the time I'm in bedridden mode and have to sell all of my belonging for a living, so all my camera lens gear etc, etc, all gone

Now, today I got better, but have nothing left, and find out that the most terrible thing to be 47 years old is it's a age that nobody want to hire you as a employee

so I can't pay rent, can't buy food, and about to be homeless, that's make me think about suicide a lot, But I still have my Mom (72) to take care and we're family of 2, If I'm gone who's gonna take care of her, so look like I have to be freelance photographer (again) the only obstacles is I didn't have a camera anymore

 

To reboot my life, to get back on my feet, I very in need of a camera and lens and some accessory,

 

So any kind of donation is very appreciate, Thank You in advance. Just in case you want to help but have no idea what I very like to have feel free to check my wish-list

 

All the best,

 

Tone

Hi Tone,

I hope you are doing well and feeling better!

I will reach out to you if someone finds me looking to donate a camera.

Best,

Todd

Hi, I'm a single mother of two and I wanted to see if there is anyone out there that wouldn't mind donating their old DSLR Camera to me because I want to do youtube to make some little money for me and my kids and it would really help me out and I would really appreciate it. Thank you.

Hi Christeasha,

Feel free to reply with your email and I will keep it handy (and not publish it) and let you know if I get a note from anyone.

Thanks!

Todd, I stumbled upon Isabel E's message and your response when I searched google to get some inspirations for how I might be able to donate one or more cameras with battery and recharger. One is a Canon similar to this: [Canon SD1100]. Please let me know if Isabel is still looking. Thx, Eleanor

Hi Eleanor,

Thank you for the note. Good news! I actually got an email through my personal website from a reader here that just sent Isabel his Pentax!

But, thank you for writing in and I will certainly let you know if anyone else could use it that I come across.

Cheers!

I am currently looking for a dslr camera myself i am a low income college student and i am in need of a dslr camera. if anyone can help i would greatly appreciate it. if you have one that i could have please email me at: [Email address removed. Please email toddv at bhphoto dot com for isabel's email.]

thank you so much isabel 

Hi isabel,

Thank you for your email. I removed your email from the post, but folks can email me to get your email address. Posting your email address on the web is a good way to get lots of spam!

Anyway, please check some of the links above as there are organizations that get cameras in the hands of students. Where are you going to school?

Good luck!

I’m going to a community college and I really need a dslr camera for work next semester 

In the state of PA

Hi isabel,

My inbox has been quiet, but please look into a used film camera in our Used Department here. Some great film cameras are very reasonably priced.

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/buy/35mm-Cameras/ci/3017/N/3607616145

Good luck!

I'm hoping it is ok if I throw my hat in the ring here as well. Not sure where else to post this information and every little bit helps. I run a nonprofit that helps high schools students interview veterans in Iowa. We work together to to conduct the interviews and then create a product about the veterans life in the service. The videos are also donated to the Library of Congress. Right now I'd love to get some easy to use prosumer level video cameras for the students to use for their interviews. If anyone out there would like to help with a donation of used equipment, it would be greatly appreciated. Feel free to visit my website for contact info veteransperspective.org Thanks so much!

Thank you, sara! I hope someone finds you with some gear! I have been getting emails almost weekly of people looking for places to send camera stuff.

Thanks for stopping by and throwing your hat in the ring!

Thanks Todd, I would be happy to help a generous individual. One man's trash is another man's treasure!

Very true! I hope you find some treasure!

Sara,

What a great organization!  I'd check out Nikon for donations... 

"Nikon sponsors organization-based events that align with our marketing brand strategies, consumer reach, consumer engagement and that have a positive impact on the communities we serve."

https://www.nikonimgsupport.com/ni/NI_article?articleNo=000001889&lang=en_US

Hello,

I have a question. I am a small church in Flint, MI and with limited resources and I am trying to grow my church. Our church has helped with  the water crisis here, we have a food pantry for the hungry, we give away over 75 Thanksgiving baskets to the needy every year.   Most of what we do comes from the pockets of our congregation and they are happy to do it.  But we need to grow to meet the continuing needs of the community.  I am charged to spread the Word  of God first and one way I can do it is to tape out Sunday services and broadcast them on different networks who are willing to offer help in trying to spread the Gospel and grow my congregation.  I am looking for donations of television and studio equipment to us we will of course make sure it is used as a tax deduction.  I don't know where to begin looking and who to contact. If your company needs to unload any old equipment or maybe let us know of any companies or organizations looking to help I would be honored.

Again,

Thank you,

Mulondo Echols

Associate Pastor 

NOW Ministries, Flint MI

mulondoechols at hotmail dot com

Thanks, Mulondo. I hope you get some donations!

Hi,
I need some help finding a place in INDIA where they will service an older PANASONIC PVDV 953D VIDEO CAMERA which I bought from B&H maybe more than 10 years ago.  It is 3CCD and uses cassette. 
A cassette is stuck inside and I cannot get the door open to take it out, and when I plug it in it says needs service. However, I cannot find anyone in Tamil Nadu who can service it, as they say it is too old, ie. after 5 years Panasonic doesn't support the cameras. I can't even get Panasonic to give me a clear answer. I don't want to break it. It has served me well.

Since you have an extension shop in India, I thought maybe you may know something that I don't.
Any info will be helpful. Thanks.

Hi Elinore,

Thanks for your question. Your best bet is to keep trying different camera and/or electronics repair stores and seeing if they will help.

As far as an extension shop in India, we do not have one. Are one store and offices are located in New York City and we have a single warehouse in New Jersey.

Good luck!

Hello!

I'm Mr. Wayne of youth nonprofit New Conscious Guardians, Inc. We're launching a program for kids to learn about the entertainment industry and making movies. So, we'll be producing short films from the initial stages to the end. We are in desperate need of digital film camera. We are 501(c)(3) organization and all donations are tax deductible. The kids we are working with are middle school low income, at-risk or inner city. May all your days be blessed. Thank you. 

Thanks for posting, Wayne! I hope some cameras find their way to you all!

What a great organization!  I'd check out Nikon for donations... 

"Nikon sponsors organization-based events that align with our marketing brand strategies, consumer reach, consumer engagement and that have a positive impact on the communities we serve."

https://www.nikonimgsupport.com/ni/NI_article?articleNo=000001889&lang=en_US

Hi everyone we are USANII LAB a collective of young creatives from the eastlands of Nairobi, Kenya. It was started in January 2013 as a communication design course. Within different workshops we gain design skills and practise photography, film and graphic design computer programs. It‘s all about experimenting with different fields of arts and design and having fun to design our environment. We are financially challanged and we would kindly request for donation of any media equipment especially cameras. Kindly go through our social media  Facebook at UsaniiLab and Zoommag25.

Can I get Vicky's email as well? I have a couple digital cameras that I'd love to donate.

Hi Holly,

Please see my reply to Sabrina. Thanks!

I would love Vicky's email address.

Hi Sabrina,

Please email me at toddv at bhphoto dot com.

Thanks!

I have several older model video cameras that our local camera exchange will not take (for resale or recycling).  I would be happy to pass all this old stuff to a school or other organization that could have use for them.  Please reply if interested.

First Year yearbook committee for Middle school with only 297 students mostly low income.  If anyone is looking for a place to donate a new or slighly loved camera, we would be thrilled to take it off your hands,  Our Parent teacher Club is  a 501(c)3 non profit charity and would be happy to supply you with our tax id info if you'd like it.   Please email [Address removed].  I can answer any questions. Thanks for considering,  Delta Charter School Yearbook Committee - Have a blessed day ~ Vicki W

Hi Vicki,

Thanks! I removed your email address from the post for your safety. But, if anyone would like to get in touch with Vicki, please reply to this thread and I will send you the address.

-Todd

Todd,  Please send Vicki's email address.  Thanks, DP

Hi David,

Please email me at toddv at bhphoto dot com.

Thanks!

Hi Vicki,

The Yearbook club is how I found my love for photography way back in high school- way to go!  I do our schools yearbook and its always so fun to see their reactions!  Good luck ;)

 I'd check out Nikon for donations... 

"Nikon sponsors organization-based events that align with our marketing brand strategies, consumer reach, consumer engagement and that have a positive impact on the communities we serve."

https://www.nikonimgsupport.com/ni/NI_article?articleNo=000001889&lang=en_US

Hello!

My name is Jas & I am the founding President of a youth based 501(c)(3) organization. I am looking for a digital SLR (Canon 5d Mk II, III, IV or similar) to create videos for the kids of my nonprofit that will help them get to college. If you have something to donate, please contact me. (Remember: all donations to us are TAX DEDUCTIBLE!)

Thanks,
Jas

Thanks, Jas! Good luck! I hope you get some good photo gear!

Hey. I'm Lisa from Uganda. I really love taking pictures (which I do with my phone) since I can't afford a camera. It helps me get rid of stress and I also enjoy capturing the tiny beauties of life. I'd really appreciate a camera donation. Thank you. 

Hi Lisa,

If you provide more information, we can pass the word! Until then, keep loving taking photos and make some great art with your phone!

I have an old camcorder, I would like to sell it or exchange for something newer.

Hi jessica,

Feel free to contact the B&H Used store to see if they can help! https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/browse/Used-Equipment/ci/2870/N/4294247188

Good luck!

Hi

I have 2 good FILM CAMERA, I do not want to buy films anymore. What can I do with them?

Thanks for prompt response,

Hi IRAJ,

Check out the article above for some ideas on what to do with your cameras!

Thanks for reading!

hello all.this is amy from India.im an arts enthusiast and i love taking pictures with my phone that just have rear camera of 8 megapixels. i was brought up by a single mom and I'm the only breadwinner in my family as my mom is old. i love photography but in India these things are expensive, forget even about classes. i used to work as waitress for a café and using my employer's camera i managed the pics on his social website. i realized that I'm really good at taking pics.but i don't have finances to buy a camera, not even in future as I'm on my own. i asked my father's family but they aren't willing to either buy me a camera or send me a used one. i want to pursue photography as a skill as i have a hidden talent for it, who knows it might become a source of livelihood for me. so if anyone out there can giveaway or hand me down their unused camera for an amateur photographer/learner like me i would be very grateful.thanks and regards

Hi Amy,

I hope someone can help you out or you can find a great deal on a camera!

Best of luck from the USA! :)

Hi Amy. Are you looking for a digital camera or a film camera?

Hey My name is Jarvis Garland & recently my car was broken into & all my Video Equipment was stolen. I was staying at a Hilton in Miami. How could security let  this happen? The police found out who did it but only my SD card and ID was found. Is help to much to ask for? Over $5000 worth of equipment gone. My entire life gone in a flash.i am only asking because I don't have any other options. Thanks 

Sorry for the loss of your gear, Jarvis.

I always recommend that people insure their camera gear against loss and theft. The cheapest way to replace your gear is to buy used equipment from our B&H Used store or another reputable used equipment reseller.

Sorry and good luck!

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