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.

192 Comments

Would love to receive any DSLR for donation for my 3 boys. Cheers. 

Hello Erdenebat,

Please write back with your email address so that I might put someone in contact with you.

Thanks!

Best,

Todd

I’ve been in and out of work due to this pandemic and would love to rekindle my passion for photography to help cope. Due to caring for and supporting family members I never had the time to pursue it over the years. I’m seeking a donation of a dslr camera with the capability of shooting video as well. Thank you in advance for your generosity. 

Hi Del,

I will let you know if someone has something that might work for you.

I hope your family is well!

Best,

Todd

Thank you so much Todd. 

You are welcome!

I have a Canon EOS 630 film camera, 35-70mm Canon lens and a Sigma 75-300mm lens that I'd like to donate. Any suggestions? 

Hi James,

If you scroll down a bit there are some folks looking for camera gear and some have left hints on how they can be contacted. I don't have any email addresses handy for anyone looking for gear at this time.

Also reach out to your local schools to see if they are looking for film gear!

Thanks for reading!

Best,

Todd

Hi. I've come into possession of old cameras.  Wondering if there's an Org that might be interested in taking them for continued use and possible education.  Olympus OM-2S, Konica Autoreflex T3, Konica Autoreflex TC, 80mm-210mm lens, 4m-30m lens. 

Hi Jerome,

Reply here with your email (it won't be published) and I can try to connect you with folks in need.

Thanks!

Best,

Todd

Todd, Thanks.  Here you go.

Got it. Thanks, Jerome!

Hello Todd, following up. Are you still looking into this?  I haven't seen any emails.  Thanks, Jerry

Hi Jerry,

Thanks for the email. I have your info and am waiting for the next commenter that is looking for gear like what you have. Most of the folks who have left comments below looking for gear do not leave email addresses, so I have no way to contact them or connect you with them.

If you need to move your stuff sooner, I recommend reaching out to local schools or contacting our Used Department to see if they would be interested in buying your stuff.

Thanks for circling back!

Best,

Todd

I'd like to donate 4 cameras. I have 2 Sony's one is a bloggie the other is cybershot. Both have batteries and pouches and a charger. The other 2 are Nikon coolpic and a Canon powers hot. Both of these have batteries. Where can I donate. I live I. Cleveland Ohio, but I wouldn't mind shipping.  Let me know thanks noreen

Hi Noreen,

Please see the thread below from Cheryl at Beacon High School in NYC. She is looking for gear.

Thanks!

Best,

Todd

Hi, looking for any brand DSLRs and point and shoots that could be donated to Beacon HS in NYC so students can learn photography. Any donation helps! After a year and a half of remote learning these kids could use a class to creatively express themselves. Thank you!

Cheryl

Hi Cheryl,

Thanks for the post. Is there a good way you can get contacted at Beacon High School? Thanks!

Best,

Todd

Sure. I am a parent with a junior at the school and helping the photography department get equipment. I'll see which form of contact the teacher prefers if that works good on your end? Do you have a direct email to share this information? Best, Cheryl

Hi Cheryl!

You can reply with an email address here (it won't publish) and I can email you directly.

Thanks!

Best,

Todd

Hey Todd I have a camera donation. Can you get me in touch with Cheryl's email... 

Hi Wade,

I haven't heard back from Cheryl, but if you can message me here with your address, I can hold it in case I hear from her. Also, she left some clues as to how to contact her above, if you want to do some sleuthing.

Thanks!

Best,

Todd

Hello everydoby. My name is Guillermo, I am 37 years old, I trying to develp filmatography in El Salvador. I run the "Fundación Angel" an civil organization to fight unjustice, corruption, pooverty in this society and I need a lot of help really. Without money but a strong sense of going forthward I trying to create a new enviroment for art, culture and cinematography.

Whatever you have from an old film camera to the futurist camera, believe me that will help.

Please any information you can give me I will be thankful.

Blessings.

I have 4 older cameras as follows which I want to get rid of: Polaroid, Cannon Sure Shot Zoom XL, Nikon Zoom 140 ED QD and Panasonic DMC-TZ1.  Do you want them?

Hi Sue,

Please post your email here (it won't be published) and I will connect you with Guillermo.

Thanks!

Best,

Todd

I have 2, 35mm slrs and 1 canonet rangefinder to donate to a school or to a project such as Guillermo's.

Hi Janice,

Thanks! I will email you both!

Best,

Todd

Hello Guillermo,

Do you still need equipment?  I have 7 Canon Owl Sure Shot cameras that I'd like to donate. I also have a Sony digital Handycam.  I would love to have your organization use them for such good work!  I will be happy to ship in order to put them to good use.

Best,

Kris 

Hi Kris,

I do have Guillermo's email address if you'd like to post yours here (it won't be shown) and I will get you connected.

Thanks for reading!

Best,

Todd

May i have his email as well?

Hi Tracy,

Yes. Please reply with your email (it won't be posted) and I will connect you.

Thanks for reading!

Best,

Todd

[quote=Guillermo G.]

Hello everydoby. My name is Guillermo, I am 37 years old, I trying to develp filmatography in El Salvador. I run the "Fundación Angel" an civil organization to fight unjustice, corruption, pooverty in this society and I need a lot of help really. Without money but a strong sense of going forthward I trying to create a new enviroment for art, culture and cinematography.

Whatever you have from an old film camera to the futurist camera, believe me that will help.

Please any information you can give me I will be thankful.

Blessings.

Do you still need cameras? What is your contact info? I have 2 analog slrs.

Hello!

I found a Sharp 8 Viewcam hi-fi monoaural at my grandmother house. The tape is stucked and I cannot find a place where it can be fixed, but the camera is turning on and i can see the "liveview" mode. Is there any method I can use to use to record it without using the tape? Recording direct to the computer or hd... some way?

HI Contato,

I don't know the answer to your query, but, in general, if a camcorder was designed to copy to tape, it probably did not have a digital-out function. But, to be sure, do a deep dive on the internet...there might be something out there!

Good luck!

Best,

Todd

High School teacher here.  I'm teaching a new "Video production" class this spring, because it's something that I can do with the students remotely.  Some of my students are really getting into it, and I had an idea.  I'd like to run a short film festival for the school at the end of the semester.  I'd LOVE to be able to provide some prizes (ideally a camera).  Unfortunately I have no money to buy anything.  Even if the school could alot some funds, I wouldn't be allowed to buy gear and then give it away as a prize.  This thread came up when I googled camera donation.

So as someone hoping to be on the receiving end of a donation, any suggestions on where I could look?  Or does B&H maybe have something they could donate?

Hi Steven,

Thanks for the note! I will pass along your request to our EDU department and keep an eye out for anyone looking to donate gear. Occasionally folks post here or email me directly.

Best,

Todd

Todd,

I have several old cameras which I am not using.These include a Nikon Coolpix L320, Polaroid Specta, Nikon Teletouch  with four rolls of film, Konica C35, Kodak Easy ShareDX4900 with several lenses. Most have carrying cases.  I would like to donate all of these -- perhaps the professor could use one of these?

Let me know if B+H would like to take these off my hands for donations to soneone who can use them?

Bob Cahoon

Hi Bob,

Thanks for the note! I will drop you an email. In the meantime, you might be able to sell some of that gear to our Used Department, but we do not take donations. Thanks for asking!

Best,

Todd

I have 4 older cameras as follows which I want to get rid of: Polaroid Spectra, Cannon Sure Shot Zoom XL, Nikon Zoom 140 ED QD and Panasonic DMC-TZ1.

Should I toss them in the trash or is there someone that wants them?

Hi Sue,

Please post your email here (it won't be published) and I will connect you with Guillermo.

Thanks!

Best,

Todd

I would be intersting in that I run a civil organization in El Salvador.equipment is expensive but I would be intersting in getting into it since filmatography is not an art developped at all in Central America.

Blessings.

Todd, could you pass my email along to the fellow looking for used camera gear?  I have a pretty decent batch of Olympus and Zuiko items.  Thanks

Hi Shawn,

Yes sir...I will shoot you an email.

Best,

Todd

Steven, I am in Phoenix and have some old gear that may work for you.  I don't see a way to send a private message here.

Thanks, Shawn! Let's hope Steven checks back here!

Donating to a thrift shop is a solution unless you work at a thrift shop. I volunteer at a local shop once or twice a week and we have milk crates full of digital and film cameras. So what do WE do with them?

Hi John,

My local thrift store rarely has camera gear!

Digital cameras are really the difficult things to move as their half-life is so short compared to the film cameras of yesteryear. Most point-and-shoot film cameras do not have a following, but there are some models that fetch surprising prices. My aunt emailed me earlier this week with a Nikon point-and-shoot 35mm that goes for north of $100 on eBay.

My advice would be to do some research on the cameras to see if any have value. If you got some SLRs with lenses, oftentimes the lenses are more valuable than the cameras themselves, so don't overlook that possibility.

If what you have isn't worth much or selling readily on auction websites, then sell them in the "shelf decor" or "paperweight" section of your shop...or discard.

Good luck and Happy New Year!

Best,

Todd

Repurpose to infrared is what I've done. I have a Nikon D7000 and D600 converted to infrared... just be sure to do some testing with your lenses to make sure you have a good choice or look up on Kolari Vision.

Great alternative, Britt! Thanks!

Use as decoration on a book shelf.

I might have a few cameras on my bookshelf, Michael! :)

Thanks and happy holidays!

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