Grading Equipment

Condition: A few words about grading cameras

Trying to describe a cameras condition is one of the toughest parts of mail order camera sales. Life would be real simple if we only dealt in mint equipment, but the world doesn't work like that. There are a number of different grading systems: numbers from 1 thru 10, letter systems A thru D (I think), a scale that's a mixture of both (like A4), even percentages (how much camera is gone for it to be 99%?). But the system I've adopted is the one promoted in Shutterbug magazines classified ad section. I don't think any one system is really better than another, and even with the same system, it's all subjective. What may be a "9" to one person may be an "8" to the next. In fact, what may be a "9" may or may not be a "9" to the same person on different days! (I know I've graded stuff, that I look at later and disagree with my earlier assessment)

Here is how I grade cameras..


This one is simple. Mint is perfect. There cannot be mint+. If there is any flaw, however slight, it's not mint. You will find I don't use mint very often. Every time I do, I get nervous that I missed some little flaw.


Many people use new and mint interchangably. New means it has never been sold retail. I have seen items that are new, that have been handled enough before being sold that they are no longer mint.

Mint- (Near mint and LN-)

Mint - is very close to being mint. There are only one or two small flaws that you will really have to look for to see.

Ex+ (Excellent plus)

Will show a few signs of wear, but is still a pretty nice camera (or lens, or whatever). Chrome cameras may have a few light bright marks, black cameras will have very limited brassing.


At this state, there will be definite signs of wear. There will be signs of use, but not abuse. Expect some bright marks on chrome cameras, moderate brassing on black ones.


This is where cameras start looking a little ratty. There will be signs of heavy use, even some abuse. Expect heavy bright marks on chrome, fairly heavy brassing on black enamel. There may even be a little brassing on chrome.

VG+ (Very Good plus), VG, VG-, Good, Fair, Poor

Back in the early days of camera collecting, when many of the collectables of today were still new on dealers shelves, or even still dreams in some designers mind, a camera that was in good condition, really was in good condition. Now a camera listed in good condition is most likely to be an eyesore. Over the years we have experienced condition inflation. Like monetary inflation devalues your dollar (or yen, peso,, mark, whatever), or grade inflation in schools devalues the "A" you might recieve, so has condition inflation devalued what constitutes a "good" camera. The only grade shown here that truely represents what you're getting is poor. All of these grades represent various shades of ugly.

Other notes on grading...


You will find things listed like this. It means it falls somewhere between what I consider EX and Ex+, as listed above

..else Ex

A camera that is listed as Ex should not have a dent in it. However, a camera that is otherwise Ex may have a dent in it. Rather than say this camera is VG, which is ugly (see above), I think it's more accurate to say it"has a dent on the base, else EX"

More about dents, dings, engraving...

I try to list anytime there is engraving, dents, or dings on cameras that are Ex- or better. I also attempt to list any missing parts or non-functioning features, as well as anything that has been added (such as flash synch) or is otherwise not original. I check to see that the shutters and diaphrams operate, and will note when it appears they are sticking. I check to see that meters are active. I check to see that rangefinders have a reasonably clear viewfinder, and that both rangefinder images are present, and that one moves when you focus. As we primarily deal in collectable cameras, I do not test shutters, meters or rangefinders for accuracy. I do not test flash synchs, self timers, film counters, etc.

Also, the condition I quote is for the camera itself, the case, box, caps, etc. may be of better or worse condition.

I do tend to list problems, rather than what is right with a camera. I do break down and (usually) mark that a camera is working as we get so many questions asking that. Sometimes (usually after a serious bout of questions) I will list what is working and what isn't. I feel you should be able to assume that everything is working reasonably well unless we tell you otherwise.