Camera pricing

Inspired by a recent conversation with a colleague about the way cameras are priced, I decided to look up the original retail value of some of my cameras and correct for inflation, to see how they compare to today.

I’ve attempted to make a note to describe the camera’s position in the market line-up at the time (amateur v pro, etc) to give some meaning to the numbers. Canon publishes list prices for all its historical equipment in Yen at the time of launch. I’ve converted from Yen to British pounds using the historic exchange rate of the time, and used an inflation calculator to work out what that is in pounds as of today (June 2014).

This is likely to be inaccurate, not just because of the double conversion but also that launch prices in different countries are usually different. This is still the case today.

For comparison I’ve listed a few current digital models at the bottom of this table for comparison across the range.

Camera Type Marketed Orig price 2014 price
Demi Super compact Feb 1963 ¥10,800 £195.61
Canonet Junior Basic compact Apr 1963 ¥11,800 £212.25
Pellix QL (50mm f/1.4) Advanced amateur SLR Mar 1966 ¥60,800 £982.32
EXEE (EX 50mm f/1.8) Entry amateur SLR Oct 1969 ¥33,000 £551.04
FTbn (50mm f/1.4) Mid amateur SLR Jul 1973 ¥64,500 £1,014.95
FTbn (body only) Mid amateur SLR Jul 1973 ¥39,000 £613.76
A-1 (FD 50mm f/1.4) Advanced amateur SLR Apr 1978 ¥114,000 £1,512.51
A-1 (body only) Advanced amateur SLR Apr 1978 ¥83,000 £1,101.24
AE-1 Program (FD 50mm f/1.8) Mid amateur SLR Apr 1981 ¥86,500 £619.90
AE-1 Program (body only) Mid amateur SLR Apr 1981 ¥60,000 £429.99
T90 (FD 50mm f/1.4) Professional SLR Feb 1986 ¥180,000 £1,746.81
T90 (body only) Professional SLR Feb 1986 ¥148,000 £1,436.27
Sure Shot A-1 Compact Apr 1994 ¥42,000 £475.78
EOS 500N (body only) Entry amateur SLR Sep 1996 ¥59,000 £564.13
EOS 300 (body only) Entry amateur SLR Apr 1999 ¥64,000 £502.77
IXUS 150 Digital compact Feb 2014 £129.00
EOS 700D (EF 18-55mm f/3.5) Entry amateur DSLR Mar 2013 £769.00
EOS 700D (body only) Entry amateur DSLR Mar 2013 £679.00
EOS 70D (body only) Advanced amateur DSLR Jul 2013 £1,080.00
EOS 1D-X (body only) Professional DSLR Oct 2011 £5,299.99
  • It seems that amateur SLR cameras have broadly stayed the same price over time.
  • Professional ones seem to be a lot more expensive, which I find surprising. Historically, a good 35mm camera lasted until it broke whereas today’s cameras become obsolete before they stop working.
  • Compacts seem a lot cheaper these days. This also makes sense as photography is now a mass-market hobby.

2 Comments

  1. arthur
    July 19, 2014
    Reply

    You have not done a price for the instantograph!!

    • July 19, 2014
      Reply

      In 1899, the Instantograph was priced at 42/- which is apparently is worth £225 today, when you convert to decimalised currency and correct for inflation. I thought it would be more.

      Source: 1899 Lancaster advert

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