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Secondhand Love Affair: How Much Is That Camera in the Window?

Conveniently located across the street from the Lomography Gallery Store Greenwich Village in NYC, the Goodwill store often carries a vintage camera in the window. So what did I do three months ago? I went inside and asked to see the camera and how much it cost. Read on to find out more about the secondhand beauty I found!

If you’ve never heard of Goodwill, it is an organization dedicated to helping people and families in need. One of the ways they collect money is through their Goodwill stores where they accept donated items and sell them. As they always put the most valuable and desired items in the window display, I’ve made it a routine to always stop and look at the window every time I visit the Lomography store – which is quite often.

The first time I noticed a vintage camera in the window, I didn’t recognize it and wasn’t familiar with the brand at all – I was still very new to analogue photography. It said Agfa Karat on the camera. Intrigued, I went inside the store and asked the sales clerk to see it. It looked like it was in pretty great condition with all the functions seemingly working. I did some fast research on the spot with my handy smartphone to find out that it was specifically an Agfa Karat IV – a German folding 35mm rangefinder from the 50s. So when I found out that the camera was only $30, I decided “what the hell – I’ll buy it!” Worst case scenario, it’d make a nice vintage display item.

I loaded it up with some expired Kodak Professional Plus-X 125 that I got at the Lomography store across the street and I was really pleasantly surprised with the results of the camera!

I was however noticing some focus issues in a few photos such as this shot of the Ghandi statue in Union Square.

Photo by jeffr

I believe the rangefinder might be slightly off or it could be the fact that the folder may not be extending all the way open. But I guess that that’s one of the risks you take when buying a used camera. Luckily this is only a minor issue that doesn’t seem to trouble me all too often.

As my first rangefinder camera I’ve truly fallen in love with this secondhand beauty, even with its quirks. I’m happy to have produced some really great shots, especially coupled with Kodak Ektar 100. Check out some of the photos!

Find out a little more about the Agfa Karat IV.

Thrift stores are treasure troves for vintage-lovers. Do you have something from a thrift store that remains close to your heart? Share your ‘Secondhand Love Affair’ stories with us by submitting an article and check out our requested posts for this month for more Piggies!

written by jeffr


  1. skrutt


    Nice article!
    I think a broken (or not really behaving) rangefinder is one of Agfa's problem. I got an Isolette from my bf last week, and the rangefinder is totally frozen! And after looking on the internet, it seems lots of the old Agfa's have that problem.
    But it can hopefully take nice pics anyway! I have shot a film and are waiting for the development. Fingers crossed it will be nice photos. :)

    almost 3 years ago · report as spam
  2. jeffr


    @skrutt thanks!
    sorry to hear that your rangefinder is frozen - do you mean that the focus lever won't move? I've definitely read online that the lubricants in old Agfa's are known to cake up and cause things to freeze. I'm excited to see your first results.

    almost 3 years ago · report as spam
  3. lamp


    It takes some lovely shots :)

    almost 3 years ago · report as spam
  4. jeffr


    thanks @lamp!

    almost 3 years ago · report as spam
  5. sweetyyydreams


    I recently found my grandfather's Agfa Super Sillette at home, but some functions don't work, I first need to have it repaired, but hopefully I can try to shot some rolls with it soon!

    almost 3 years ago · report as spam
  6. jeffr


    @sweetyyydreams awesome (i mean not about the non-functioning parts but the camera)! good luck with it and let me know when you do get those photos - i'd love to see them! :)

    almost 3 years ago · report as spam
  7. jean_louis_pujol


    Nice article

    almost 3 years ago · report as spam
  8. jeffr


    @jean_louis_pujol thanks for reading :)

    almost 3 years ago · report as spam
  9. bernica


    Now I have a quest mission: Greenwich Village! The only time I saw a real vintage camera on display, it wasn't on sale. Love aaaaaall your pictures (poor out of focus Gandhi included)!

    almost 3 years ago · report as spam
  10. jeffr


    thanks so much @bernica! and good point. there are a whole lot of thrift/vintage stores in nyc that carry vintage cameras however they're usually not cheap (which sucks cause you're still at risk of a faulty camera). but like i said, there's usually one in the window display at Goodwill (which is cheap). but, i forgot to include in my article that the window sale only occurs once a month there :(

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  11. sobiksaabik


    Prontor - SVS shutter! This shutter was made in GDR ( German Democratic Republic ) and used on czech cameras like Flexaret, but most Flexaret users and fans don't like Prontor shutte it isn't too much reliable, so all we Flexaret user using old good czech shutter called '' Metax '' it's the best!

    almost 3 years ago · report as spam
  12. jeffr


    @sobiksaabik interesting, thanks for the input. i've read online that not many were fans of the prontor-svs shutter. but i can't complain - i'm just glad that it still works on this camera! :)

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  13. Your camera and this article has substance, a property that not many cameras exhibit today in the era of throw away! I enjoyed it a lot!

    almost 3 years ago · report as spam
  14. jeffr


    thanks Robert! I'm glad you enjoyed the article :)

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Read this article in another language

This is the original article written in: English. It is also available in: Deutsch.