A few years ago on holidays I read a little gem of a book by advertising legend Paul Arden “It’s not how good you are, it’s how good you want to be.”

Arden was a creative director at London advertising agency Saatchi and Saatchi, and was responsible for some of the most famous British advertising campaigns of all time.

One of my favourite books!

To quote his obituary published in The Independent “Arden was the ringmaster behind the whole creative circus that saw British Airways become ‘The World’s Favourite Airline’, The Independent become the new intelligentsia’s favourite newspaper, Margaret Thatcher the nation’s favourite leader and Silk Cut their favourite cigarette.”

In the case of the British Airways , it’s said that Arden’s ads changed the fortunes of the airline. (He was also in charge of the Fujifilm account during this time, though in his obituary, there was no mention of that becoming Britain’s favourite film.)

I read this little book about once a year, it’s funny, insightful, and full of snippets of advice and inspiration for creative people.

Buy the book

Even the cover has a clever little play on words under the title… it reads “The world’s best-selling book by Paul Arden”. I was most impressed when I first saw this, was this really the world’s best selling book? Then it dawned on me, it’s the world’s best selling book written by Paul Arden.

Much of the advice in the book is aimed at copy writers and people working in ad agencies, but the book also contains many pearls of wisdom for all creatives from all walks of life.

Wynnum, Canon Sure Shot Supreme, Kodak Ultramax 400

Below, I’ve taken nine quotes from the book and interpreted them in a way that you can apply to your photography. I’ve added some photos to this page from my camera testing around Brisbane in the last couple of months.

“Your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have.”

I love this quote so much. Arden follows that up on the same page by saying “Without having a goal, it’s difficult to score.” Words to live by.

So what is your vision of where or who you want to be? What is your ultimate photographic aim? To sell prints? To create zines? To start a blog or a podcast? To become a Magnum photographer?

Start talking steps towards that goal today.

If you want to become a portrait photographer, look at what skills and equipment you’ll need to succeed in that objective. It could be said that everything else is a distraction.

If you’ve always wanted to put your prints in an art show, or create a zine, or start a blog or podcast, map out a plan over six or 12 months on how you can get there.

Marshall Dalmatian, Olympus AF10, Kodak Ultramax 400

“To be original, seek inspiration from unexpected sources.”

What can photography from different genres teach us? Quite a lot actually.

Study another type of photography that you usually wouldn’t be interested in. If you’re a street photographer, look at fashion photography. If you primarily shoot black and white, look at colour travel photography.

Pickup some newspapers or magazines in your local library, or go exploring on social media. What can you learn from trendy wellness magazines? From Instagrammers? What do they do well in terms of how they present their photography? What can you learn from them? Probably quite a lot.

“The person who doesn’t make mistakes is unlikely to make anything.”

Sometimes when we make a mistake with a roll of film or a camera we do have a inclination to beat ourselves up about making an error, whether it be ruining the rolls in the development, dropping the camera, or having an entire roll of bad exposures or missed focus.

But failure is part of photography, just as it’s a part of life.

Here’s an interesting reminder: Scientists fail all the time, they call their failures ‘experiments’, and they’re allowed to fail multiple times before success.
Next time you have a disappointing set of images, take a close look at them. What worked? What didn’t work? What can you can you do better next time? it’s all part of the creative process.

Grounded Kangaroo, Nikon LiteTouch Zoom 130, Kodak Pro Image 100

“Do not seek praise. Seek criticism.”

How often do we post our photos to Instagram and Facebook hoping to receive an avalanche of likes and comments?

It’s natural to do this, something that social media companies have exploited with the design of their platforms, but it doesn’t encourage the most useful kind of feedback: constructive criticism.

The real value is by asking others how you can make something better.

Maybe you could ask a photography friend for an honest opinion of your work, or what do you do best? Ask them to be brutally honest about your strengths, and what you could improve. It might surprise you, and it might just make you a better photographer.

Palm trees multi exposure, Canon Sure Shot Tele, Fujifilm Superia 200

“If you get stuck, draw with a different pen.”

As an advertising man, Arden meant this point literally. Instead of using felt tip pens for layouts, he tells the tale in the book of when he used water colours for a layout and the client were so impressed they increased their advertising budget significantly.

“Change your tools, it may free your thinking” says Arden, and that point can be made with photographers too who are in a rut.

If you usually shoot large format, why not get out there with a 110 camera.

If you like point and shoots, why not shoot a few rolls with an SLR?

If you shoot with a Leica, why not give a plastic toy camera a go?

It may just free your thinking.

“Don’t be afraid of silly ideas”

We all get mental blocks… the way to get unblocked is by losing our inhibitions and stop worrying about being right.

Arden suggests two tricks to get rid of creative blockages

The first is to do the opposite of what the situation requires. That could mean shooting sports with a TLR, or portraits with a point and shoot.

The second is to look out the window and whatever catches your eye, make that the solution to your problem.

Yellow and blue, Contax G1, Agfa Vista 400

“Give away everything you know and more will come back to you.”

“Ideas are open knowledge” says Arden “Don’t claim ownership.”

Got an idea on how to do something or solve a problem? Tell people. Arden says that if you give away everything you know, it forces you to replenish and look for new things.

What does this mean for photographers? Share your knowledge. Get together with others and talk about what you do. Be generous and helpful to others. Generally, I think this is something that photographers do pretty well, though of course, there’s always room from improvement.

How could you make more of a difference with the knowledge you have?

“Don’t look for the next opportunity, the one you have in hand is the opportunity.”

Arden has some good advice: “Whatever is on your desk right now, that’s the one. Make it the best you possibly can.”

The same thing goes for photography. We’ve all been guilty of finishing off a roll in a camera we don’t particularly like to get it out of the way.

Test rolls – take photos of the dog in the back yard and a gazillion.

Now I make a special effort to drive to different places I haven’t been to before with the sole purpose of exploring and taking new images. As well as testing these cameras, I’m also building up a library of images shot in different colour negative stocks and I also have plans to create standalone reviews.

Love and rainbows, Capalaba, Canon Sure Shot Multi Tele, Kodak Gold 200

“You are the magic.”

In the book, Arden explains that you shouldn’t hand your work over to a supplier hoping they will produce the magic for you, rather, you are the magic.

The same could also be said about photography, don’t expect a film or a camera or a lab or a location to bring the magic by itself.

I’ve seen some pretty ordinary photos taken on some very expensive cameras, and I’ve seen some extraordinary photos taken on cameras that most people wouldn’t touch with bargepole.

Just recently, I took some really lovely images in Brisbane with a Canon Af-7/8, a cheap plastic point and shoot, and Kodak Pro Image 100, one of the cheapest consumer print films.

YOU are the magic!

Buy the book!

Buy “It’s not how good you are, it’s how good you want to be” by Paul Arden for around $10USD on Amazon. This is an affiliate link, so if you do buy anything you will be sending a small commission my way.

In episode 32 of Matt Loves Cameras I talk about the creative process of putting together a film photography zine with Adobe InDesign and Mixam printers. You can listen above or read the summary below.

You can get your own PDF copy of my first film photography zine Every Summer by buying me a coffee on Ko-Fi – this also helps to support the running costs of the show, win-win!

What’s a zine?

A zine is a self-published booklet of images and text produced in small print runs. The word zine is derived from the words magazine and fanzine. Fanzines date back to the 1930s, when fans of a particular movement in popular culture produced unofficial booklets about their favourite sports team, band music genre, comic or science fiction book. The first fanzine was ‘The Comet’, a science fiction fanzine launched in 1930.

In the 1970s that there was a huge surge in zine production, when punk music ruled the airwaves and photocopiers became  place in offices all over the world. Zines were usually put together by hand, then photocopied and stapled.

These days the term zine can be a little bit confusing. Many people still think of zines as lo-fi photocopied and stapled books. But the term zine has come to mean any self-published booklet of photography and text.

Why make a film photography zine?

  1. It’s a creative challenge: you will get an amazing feeling of accomplishment putting together a zine of your film photography.
  2. Grow your skills: you will learn a lot when you put together your first zine. Some of the skills involved include design, editing, writing, and marketing.
  3. It’s a brilliant way to showcase your photography: a zine brings together your photos as a collection in one volume for people to appreciate.
  4. Build ties with your community: there are many ways to build ties with the analogue photography community – through social media, through podcasts, through photowalks, and also by publishing your film photos in a zine.

Why use Mixam and Adobe Indesign?

I chose Mixam as my printer and Adobe InDesign as my design software. I’ll outline some of the pros and cons of these choices and I’ll do that by comparing those choices to using online book publishers such as Blurb and MagCloud. These are just my thoughts from my understanding of these services, I’d encourage you to do your own research and see what works for you.

Mixam are a printing company with offices in UK, USA, Canada and Australia. Typically with Mixam you will send them your zine and buy a stack of them to sell. You can do that with Blub and MagCloud too, but these services offer printing on demand, where they print a book or zine and send it straight to the customer. Many people seem to just share their Blurb or MagCloud link, not selling their zine directly.

Laying out my zine in InDesign.

Advantages of Mixam:

  • Sending your zine is more personal. You buy a stack of zines and tell everyone about them. When you send your zine in the post, you can sign it, add a handwritten letter, Instax prints, stickers, film, anything you like. If you use a service that sends it straight to the customer, you can’t add any personal touches.
  • You can customise the look and feel of your zine: there’s a wide range of choices like type of paper (uncoated, silk, matte), weight of paper 100gsm to 170gsm) finishes, cover options, binding options – really up to you. Other photo book companies do give you some choices, but they seem a little more locked in to set products rather than full customisation.

Disadvantages of using Mixam

  • Typically, you have to order a significant quantity to make the zine economically viable. With Mixam I’d suggest the minimum would be around the 25 mark before the cost per zine comes down.
  • There’s an upfront cost of carrying stock, whereas Blurb and MagCloud print on demand and dropship individual copies of books straight to customers.

Advantages of using Adobe InDesign for your zine

  • Adobe InDesign is the industry standard for design. You have much more creative control over how your zine will look compared to software that photo book companies provide you with.
  • You can easily create a digital PDF of your zine – if you use photo book software, check to see if they provide you with a PDF for free – I’ve heard some companies charge you for one.

Disadvantages of using Adobe InDesign for your zine

  • There’s a learning curve – many people give up.
  • It’s not cheap unless you can get a special deal.
    • EDIT: Since this podcast has gone to air, I’ve had two people recommend the open source program Scribus. Thank you Ted Smith and Francois Laverdure! Other alternatives include creating your zine in Adobe Photoshop or the book module in Adobe Lightroom – both of which are cheaper than buying the full suite which includes InDesign.

Every Summer Film Photography Zine

What’s your zine about?

Ideas for your zine are limitless! Here are a few starters:

  • Location – your town or region, or somewhere you visited.
  • Item – a collection of photos based around an item. Anil Mistry published a book of photos of mattresses at the side of the road.
  • Film – Photos you took with a particular film emulsion.
  • Camera – photos taken with a particular camera (Leica) or type of camera (half frame, 645 etc).
  • Lens – photos taken with the same lens e.g. 135mm project.
  • Tell a story about someone or something.
  • A feeling or an idea – your imagination is your only limit!

What makes a good zine?

The best ones I’ve seen are a mix of being entertaining, inspiring and useful. How can you showcase your personality through your zine? How can you pass on your knowledge? How can you inspire people to shoot more film, produce a zine, or develop their own film?

Also think of wider audiences beyond film photography. A good example of this is Charlie Thom’s zine ‘The Nuclear Option’.

Choose your format

There are so many creative choices that you can make when you publish a film photography zine, the look and feel of the final product is up to you, and the lines between a zine and a book are often blurred.

For example, my first film photography zine Every Summer is perfect bound – the pages are glued together into the spine without a staple in sight. It’s full-colour, printed on uncoated paper, and the cover has a smooth laminate finish. It falls somewhere between the extremes of a do-it-yourself stapled zine and a high-end coffee table book.

I chose the square 21cm x 21cm format as this is a good size and works for all image types. It’s good to work out how many pages you will make your zine and what type of binding you want before you start in InDesign as these choices can affect the margins of your pages. Make sure you read all the information your printer gives you about this.

I decided to use perfect binding for my zine Every Summer.

If you’re not sure what kind of paper you’d like, as Mixam (or your printer) for a paper samples pack. I went for 170gsm uncoated paper for the first run of my zine, and 300gsm satin paper for the cover with a smooth laminate finish.

Also remember that the more pages you have, the more expensive your zine will be and the more it will weigh. Mixam give you an approximate weight estimation on your order – but take it with a grain of salt. My zines were around 14g (half an ounce) heavier than the estimation, which meant they were to heavy to ship overseas economically. In the end I had a second run of my zine done with 150gsm paper to make a lighter version.

Make sure you check out the postage / shipping options and plan the weight of your zine around the most economical method of shipping it to customers.

To add text or to not add text

There are two schools of thought for adding text. One is that the photos should tell the story. The other is that text adds extra content and information that the reader may find useful. The latter is the approach I took, mostly because I love all that extra detail and I enjoy writing. I introduced each section of my zine Every Summer with anecdotes about each place, why I took images there, what inspired me and so on.

Every Summer book


Editing and review

Double check spellings and read every sentence slowly word by word. This may sound ridiculous, but when we read the same information over and over again, often we don’t read the words that are on the page. Instead, we read what we think we wrote instead.

You can also ask a friend or colleague to proofread and review your zine before you send it to the printers.

Colour spaces

The images we work on our computers are in the RGB colour space, but when you export a PDF from InDesign it typically needs to be in the CMYK colour space. CMYK has a narrower range of colours than RGB, so sometimes your images will look duller and less saturated in CMYK colour space.

I’d advise you to export your zine when you have all the photos laid out, so you get used to the differences in what your images look like. If there are any images that don’t look right, you can always tweak them in Photoshop or Lightroom and reimport them to InDesign to try and get a better result.

PR for your zine

There’s lots of ways to publicise your zine, here are a few:

  • Have a Kickstarter style launch – early buyers get extra goodies!
  • Share it on your social media: Facebook and Instagram are good places to start.
  • List it for sale on your website.
  • Post about your zine in Facebook groups.
  • Send your zine to podcasters for review.
  • Write an article about some of the images to send to Emulsive, 35mmc or KosmoFoto. Just be aware there can be a delay in getting articles published.

Film photography zine resources

Every Summer film photography zine

If you’d like to get your hands on my film photography zine Every Summer, there are two options for you:


Well my friends, we are certainly living in interesting times. If you’ve found yourself at home, unable to venture out to take photos, fear not, there are still a ton of photography projects you can crack on with. In episode 28 of Matt Loves Cameras, I detail 15 film photography related projected you can do at home. Listen for the details above, I’ve put a summary below.

How can photo projects help?

I’ve read some research that said keeping busy, especially with repetitive or creative tasks, can lead to a feeling of accomplishment and can steer your mind away from thinking about things that worry you. Photography projects ward off boredom and make you calmer and less anxious. Here’s my list of 15 film photography projects you can do at home:

1) Organise your Lightroom catalogues

This can be a daunting task, try working on it a little every day. Listen to the podcast for how I organise my catalogues.

2) Organise your negatives – and your instant photos

I have stacks of negatives in folders and cardboard envelopes. I actually bought some negative sleeves about a year ago and I’ve never touched them, it’s time to change that.

3) Read a photography book that’s been sitting on your shelf

If you’re like me, you probably have tons of photography books on your shelves that you’ve bought, flicked through and never looked at again. Get them off the shelf and make some time to read them.

4) Organise a video call with other photographers

Look out for these in Facebook Groups everywhere, especially groups like Negative Positives Facebook group. Zoom or Webex are two of the popular services used.

5) Sign up for an course

There are so many good online courses, check out:

  • Lynda.com – now known as LinkedIn learning. There are tons of good courses on here about photography and software like the Adobe Creative Suite. Check to see if you have free access to this through your library.
  • Creative Live – about $149 for one year, you might be able to find it cheaper though. There are so many good photography courses on here, including a few on film photography. Also some really cool creative courses on arts and crafts and music.
  • Magnum Learn – I really enjoyed the $99 Street Photography course from Magnum.
  • Professional Photographers of America currently offering their courses for free for a couple of weeks.

6) Free film photography goodness on YouTube

7) Stock photography

Some stock agencies such as Stocksy accept film and instant photo scans!

8) Practice your digital photography

If you’re unable to buy or process film, practice your digital photography. Those skills will come in handy when you can shoot film again.

9) Start a blog or podcast

You can get started for free thanks to platforms like WordPress and Anchor. What’s stopping you?

10) Write for others

Write an article for Emulsive, 35mmc, Kosmo Foto or send a voice recording in to Negative Positives.

11) Catalogue your film and cameras

Get all your cameras out of boxes and down off shelves and on to the floor. Type up details of everything you have in a spreadsheet. You’ll find cameras you’d forgotten about and stuff you’d like to sell.

12) Find out about a historic photographer

Here are three to get you started:

  • Julia Margaret Cameron – a photographic pioneer
  • Eugene Atget – French flaneur who photographed the streets of Paris
  • Master of light and contrast – Chinese photographer Fan Ho

13) Research a photographic process you’ve never tried

  • tintypes
  • cyanotypes
  • cross processing
  • polaroid emulsion transfers

14) Spring clean your social media

Make sure your profile and photo are up-to-date, plan your next set of photos to publish, follow new and inspiring accounts.

15) Support film people

Buy a zine, buy film, buy cameras, support the community!

I’m not really one to make new year’s resolutions, why wait until one day of the year to make a change in your life? I do like setting goals for myself though, after all, if you don’t have a target, it’s pretty hard to score.

90 day goals for the win!

Although I do have longer term goals, they ebb and flow depending on what path I want to take in life. I find setting goals for 90 days to be very effective. Why 90 days? It’s a good period of time – not too short, not too long. It gives you enough time to focus on outcomes that you need to achieve in that sprint. With any longer time periods, you can suffer with a declining interest or lack of focus.

My 10 film photography goals: January to March 2020

  1. Publish my first film photography zine
  2. Develop my own black and white images
  3. Shoot some medium format
  4. Have a net reduction of 15 cameras
  5. Keep track of how much I spend on photography
  6. Read three photography books
  7. Do a Polaroid emulsion lift
  8. Catalogue and backup my film photography digital files
  9. Complete the Magnum Street Photography online course I bought
  10. Complete the first three months of the 2020 Frugal Film Project


I use Trello to keep myself organised. Below are some screenshots of two different boards. Each board has a number of lists, and each list has many cards. As I progress tasks, the cards move from one list to another, typically a ‘Done’ list when the task is completed. If you pay for Trello you can upload your own background images. The two that you see below are ones that you can use for free.

Trello can be as simple or as complex as you make it.

A snapshot of part of Trello 2020 goals board

My daily tasks board

What are your film photography goals for 2020? Let me know 🙂




If you like cameras as much as I like cameras, you’ve probably bought one off eBay before. It is without doubt, the easiest way to find that camera you’ve had your heart set on. But if you’re just getting into film photography, or if you don’t have much experience buying film cameras online, there can be a lot of pitfalls. Below, I list my top 12 tips to buying film cameras on eBay.

The information and tips included in this article are based on my experience. Please seek your own advice and check consumer laws in your country before proceeding. This article is the basis for episode 16 of my podcast which you can listen to above or on any podcast network. I’ve also made these tips into a YouTube video:

1. Research the camera

Read reviews, find out what people like and don’t like about the camera. Do you have a friend or acquaintance that has one? If so, check it out, look through the viewfinder, make sure it’s right for you! Sometimes we think we want something that someone else has, then when we have it in our own hands, we realise it’s not for us.

Make sure you can still get the film and the batteries if it’s an older camera. I have seen at least three people come into Polaroid Facebook groups in the last year asking where they could get pack film, not knowing that there is no current supplier.

Make sure you know about all the different models and variations of the camera. Quite often, small differences in models can make a big difference in terms of value. An Olympus XA1 is not worth as much as Olympus XA or XA2, and a MJU II zoom 80 is not worth as much as a MJU II.

Twice I have bought the wrong model of camera, but luckily, both times it turned out well for me. I bought a MJU II zoom 80 for $60AUD, thinking it was a MJU II. I ended up selling it on eBay for $160AUD – even after mentioning and showing photos in my description that the camera had the infamous MJU zoom light leak!

The second time was when I bought the Fujifilm Klasse for $600AUD, I thought I had bought a Fujifilm Klasse S. I didn’t realise until I printed out the manual. With the rising tide of film camera prices, I sold it for $800AUD on eBay.

Make sure the item you are buying is legit – I say this in reference to Leicas in particular. There were so many Leica copies made by the Russians in particular so make sure you know what you’re buying.

If you have any questions, ask away! There are some very knowledgable people in Facebook groups – you can try both general film camera groups and also groups dedicated to a particular camera e.g. Leica groups, Contax G1G2 group.

2. Research the estimated camera price

This is very easy to do, search for your camera on eBay, then on the left hand side, tick sold listings. You will see all the cameras that have recently sold and how much for.

Keep notes on what they have sold for, along with what condition they were in, and what accessories came bundled with the camera.

Always make sure you are comparing like with like: if you want to buy a working polaroid SX-70, make sure you are only looking at the sold prices of working SX-70s, not untested or broken ones.

Other places where you can search for price information for cameras include Facebook sales groups, Etsy, Gumtree in the UK and Australia, Craigslist, and Collectiblend.

Another thing worth considering is this: is it cheaper buying a lot of single items or is it better to buy a bulk lot / job lot of equipment? For example, when I was looking at getting a Contax G2, I worked out that it was cheaper for me to buy a body and 45mm lens separate to the 90mm lens and the 28mm lens, even when taking into account shipping! The bundle deals with all that equipment were way more expensive.

3. Set up eBay alerts on your phone and email

Once you know what camera you want and the rough price you should pay, sign up for eBay alerts. You can get push alerts on your smartphone and/or email alerts about items that match your criteria.

If you have the eBay smartphone app, you also get reminders when items are ending.

Also regularly check your emails for eBay special offer coupons. Quite often, eBay Australia have discount coupons that take between 3% and 10% off, subject to conditions.

4. Read eBay listings carefully

Read listings very carefully – check anything you’re not sure about with the seller.

Make sure you are comparing like with like when you benchmark this item against items that have previously sold.

Condition is key to a camera’s value. Perfect working condition is the first thing you should look for. If there is anything that affects the working condition of the camera, think twice before buying. Has the seller mentioned any issues with the camera? Do these issues really matter or are they something that would affect the functionality or value of the camera?

Secondly, look for any cosmetic issues: scratches, dents, LCD display leakage, broken parts. Hopefully these will not affect the functionality of the camera, but they may affect their resale value.

Thirdly, look at the accessories the camera comes with. These could include a manual, strap, case, original box, remote control and lens hood. All of these things are important for resale value.

If it comes with a manual, ask if it’s in English – Japanese buyers sometimes do not state what language the manual is in. It may look from the front of the manual that it’s English, but it could be Japanese.

If you’re buying a camera with a lens, the seller will usually give you a description of it detailing any scratches, fungus, haze or dust that it may have. Most lenses will have some sort of dust in them which will rarely affect shooting. Japanese sellers often mention “tiny dusts”, I love reading their listings!

If the seller says that it doesn’t work or is untested, you need to make a decision, are you happy for it to sit on your shelf as a paperweight? A couple of times I’ve bought cameras that have been untested or not working, thinking that I could work some kind of magic on them and they’d spring to life, but guess what? I’m not a camera repair person and I wasted my money on them!

You can get lucky of course – often people sell cameras as not working and all they need is a new battery and some TLC.

5. Research the seller

Start by viewing the seller’s profile. Click on their name in the listing.

How long have they been on eBay? What’s their feedback rating? What have buyers said about them? This is all useful information. If a seller is new and has no feedback, proceed carefully.

Does the seller have a return policy? This is especially handy if you’re buying the item as untested, or if you’re not sure if you will like it. If they accept returns, you can always send the item back in its original condition for a refund – all you’ve lost is your shipping fees.

6. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is…

This particularly relates to film sales – twice i’ve bought discount film from Asian countries at too good to be true prices. I’ve bought FP100C, Instax Mini, and 120 film. Every time it was some kind of scam where the seller got to hold on to the funds for a month, before having to refund them. Luckily I was covered by eBay and PayPal and had my money returned, but it was annoying and time consuming.

Also be very suspicious of any too good to be true deals that encourage you to move off eBay by contacting a seller via their phone number or email to do a private deal. I’ve heard stories where the same non-existent kit has been sold to several people at the same time. The seller requests money be deposited into their bank account. You will not be protected by eBay of Paypal if you do this.

7. Bid late and bid high

Don’t bid too early – try and wait until near the end of the auction if you can.

If there is an item I really like the look of, I always add an extra 10% to whatever I’m prepared to pay for it. My reasoning is that I’d rather pay extra and get what I want rather than restarting the whole process again looking for another similar item.

For auctions that are based overseas, I use an eBay sniper called Gixen. If you have the paid version, which is only a few dollars a year, you can import your watch list, add your bid for each item, and Gixen will bid for you.

You can even group your bids – if you are bidding on the same model of camera from several different sellers, Gixen can group them together. This means the first successful bid stops any further bids from taking place in that group, so you don’t end up with two of the same camera.

If you use Gixen, make sure the seller ships to your country. If they don’t, your bid may not even go through. I found this out the hard way! You can change country settings in Gixen to get around this, but the seller may refuse to ship the item to your country, so be careful.

8. Ask for a discount on fixed price listings

Some fixed priced listings allow you to make an offer to the seller, but some don’t.

One tactic I’ve successfully used before is messaging the seller very politely to ask for a better price. I’ve had sellers refuse, but I’ve also had sellers offer me discounts of up to 15%.

You can also ask if there is a cheaper shipping method for an item, and you can also ask for a discount for buying multiple items from the same seller.

9. Always pay with PayPal

Always with PayPal. Make sure you have the correct address in your eBay and PayPay (they should match) and abide by the terms and conditions of the eBay and PayPal guarantees to make sure you’re eligible should something go wrong.

I never pay through my bank account via PayPal, it takes too long to clear.

If I buy goods from overseas, I always pay on a credit card which has no international transaction fees. When I get to the shopping cart, eBay will have converted the overseas currency – usually US dollars – to Australian dollars at eBay / PayPal exchange rates.

This may seem helpful, but they’re actually adding their little cut on to the amount you’re paying. I always click on the amount and change the currency back to the overseas amount, as my credit card company gives me a better exchange rates. The screen should then say “Card issuer will determine your exchange rate”.

10. Get ready for camera’s arrival

Before your item arrives, make sure you know how to use it. Read the manual and watch YouTube videos about the camera. Make sure you have the correct batteries and film.

When your item arrives, check it over and make sure it’s come with everything as promised by the seller. Also check the condition to make sure it matches the listing. Document any issues with the camera and get in touch with the seller to let them know.

Test your camera straight away: make sure there is no issue with all the functions, shutter speeds, apertures, modes, everything!

Always use fresh film to test a camera – some people think you should use expired film for this task, but if there’s an issue, you won’t know if it was the film or the camera causing the problem.

11. Talk to the seller if there’s an issue

If there’s a problem, google it or search forums to see if it’s a user error or camera error. Then ask the seller about the issue, they may be able to help. Don’t jump to conclusions straight away and always be polite in your dealings with people. You can always ask advice about the issue in a friendly Facebook group if you’re not sure how to proceed.

12. Make sure you know what your rights are

Make sure you know what your rights are with eBay, PayPal, and your country’s consumer laws.

If a seller says “no refunds or returns” this may not be true under consumer law in your country. If they have advertised the camera as in full working condition and the good differ from what they have described, contact eBay.

In Australia we have very strong consumer protectino laws – research what protection you have in your country.

As well as eBay buyer guarantee, you also have the separate PayPal protection – be sure to check the conditions for each in your country and chat to either company if you’re unsure of something.

Remember to take into account the seller’s perspective – if it’s something relatively small and insignificant, let it slide. I’m a big believer in karma – never resell items that have issues as “untested”. Shoot film be nice!

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Issues with the Contax G2 I mentioned in this episode

In episode 16 of Matt Loves Cameras I spoke about the importance of testing film cameras when you receive them. The images below clearly demonstrate why! I bought this excellent condition Contax G2 from Japan, but it had a major issue. There was some kind of problem with the shutter and the film advance. On my test rolls, one frame would slide into the next frame! Luckily, I got a full refund, including shipping fees, from the seller.

Hmm I’m sure I wasn’t moving when I took this photo…

Hmm what is going on here?

When I got the next roll of film back, the problem was obvious! I’ve never seen this ever on a roll of film – there seems to be a serious problem with the shutter and film advance, one frame is smashing into the next frame!

Do you have a photographer in your life that you struggle to find Christmas gifts for? Never fear, check out my top twelve Christmas gift ideas for film photographers! I have included all sorts of analogue photography gifts including film and instant camera related presents, I hope you enjoy! Subscribe to the Matt Loves Cameras podcast on iTunes or listen here: 

1) Retro camera socks from Many Mornings

How amazing are these mismatched but matching retro camera socks by Many Mornings?

One pair of socks costs $11.99 USD, if you buy a few pairs you get free shipping! Also check out the amazing Nordic Lighthouse socks which I had to buy, and check out my images of the Faroes Islands on my @mattloves travel Instagram account

2) Business cards for photographers from Moo.com

Moo.com have been around for years and make beautifully designed business cards. They are very flexible with their print runs – you can order as little as 50 business cards from them, and you can even make every business card unique by uploading a different image for every single business card! (That actually sounds like a lot of hassle, so you may wish to stick to four or five designs for your pack!).

You can either upload your own images (scans of your film photography would be awesome) or you can use Moo’s designs, such as the wonderful Vintage Focus business cards featuring images of some classic cameras. 



Check out these fantastic notebooks made for photographers! Analogbooks helps you accurately record relevant photographic data, learn from and refine your process, and achieve the best results with every shot! I love the 135 version of the notebook, but four other types of notebook are available (medium format, large format, darkroom processing, darkroom printing).

The 35mm notebooks are sold in a pack of two and feature 64 numbered pages with space for recording details of 15 rolls of film. They have a waterproof cover, contain helpful tables and charts, and there’s even room for your own notes. This is such a good idea, particularly if you shoot with a camera that gives you some manual control so you can learn from what you’re doing. If you’re shooing with a basic point and shoot, they’re probably not that useful.
A pack of two 35mm notebooks costs a very reasonable $13.85 USD plus $13.57 USD shipping to Australia, less for US and Europe. 

4) SX-70 pin

I love this SX-70 pin from Official Exclusive. There are a few companies out there that are making wonderful camera and film photography pins and they all look fab. The one that made my list this year is the Polaroid SX-70 – one of the most iconic cameras of all time. I recently had my SX-70 refurbished here in Australia, so I would love to wear this pin when I go out taking photos with some fresh film this summer!

5) Agfa Vista 200 film

Love Agfa Vista? I give you not one, but two ways to grab this much-loved film before it’s gone forever!

Expired Agfa Vista 200

You can picked up expired (best before 2017) twin packs of Agfa Vista Plus 200 (24 exposures) for the low price of just 4 euros from Kamerastore in Helsinki. Be quick! at the time of writing there was only 337 left.

In-date Agfa Vista 200

The amazing Film Photography Project Store have just started selling in-date (09/2019) single rolls of Agfa Vista Plus 200 for $4.99

6) Analogue Adventurer Kit

I love these amazing Analogue Adventurer Kits from Little Vintage Photo Co. You may recognise the name – it is of course Rachel from the Sunny 16 Podcast who makes these kits with everything you need to make sun prints / cyanotypes as well as a pinhole viewer. So much fun for the whole family! My kids and I tried doing sun prints for the first time recently, we loved it! Rachel’s kit costs 15 GBP.

7) Retro Cameras

I love this beautifully designed book by John Wade featuring wonderful photos of retro cameras. The book is broken down into chapters for each type of camera, with many well-known cameras and some lesser known gems. Each chapter also has a shooting guide for each style of camera. 

8) Kodak hoodie / Kodak t-shirt

I love this Kodak hoodie (and the elusive Kodak t-shirt!) from H&M. I couldn’t track down the t-shirt in stores. The hoodie felt very warm and luxurious… if only it wasn’t summer here in Australia!

9) Polaroid Originals OneStep+

I’ve just had the new Polaroid Originals OneStep+ arrive from the US, I’m so excited! I’ve been hoarding film for this bad boy since October when I got a cheap deal on i-Type film (listen to the podcast for the full story). I can’t wait to try out some of the cool features available when you pair it with your smartphone, like manual control and the noise trigger!

10) No 2 storage box from Daiso Australia $2.80

As an instant photography fan, I have tons of Polaroids and Instax pictures littered all over my home office. I was tempted to buy some fancy Polaroid storage boxes, but quite honestly they were a little expensive for what they were.


One day while my kids were looking around Daiso (a cool Japanese discount store where everything is $2.80!), I stumbled across the Number 2 storage box. This is a perfect storage container for not only SX-70 / 600 Polaroid photos, it is also perfect for Instax Wide photos! You can also fit in the box two side-by-side columns of your Instax Mini photos and of course Instax Square photos fit in too, but they kinda move around a bit.

11) FilmLab app

Check out the amazing FilmLab app – I can’t wait to buy this and have a play with what it can do! This new mobile app allows you to view, digitise, and share film negatives and slides. Quite often I mix up my negatives, so using this app to preview which frame I’m after would be a huge help.

12) Ultra Compact Lomo 4-lens Film Camera 

I found this Ultra Compact Lomo 4-lens Film Camera for Casual, Snapshot Photography White while trawling eBay one day, it looks like a lot of fun!

The design and colours are very remiciecent of a three lens toy camera called the Disderi Robot 3, which I picked up from Facebook Marketplace for $2 but haven’t run a roll through it yet. This camera looks like a butterfly to me – they other difference is the additional lens which will make for some fun pictures!

It costs just $13.15 Australian dollars including postage from China, bargain! Build quality will no doubt be suspect, but if you get a handful of Kodak Gold through this bad boy I think you will have got your money’s worth!


What presents are on your wishlist this Christmas? Don’t forget to subscribe to my podcast Matt Loves Cameras in iTunes or on Podbean!