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11-23-2020, 01:10 PM   #1
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Used cameras with film in them

I normally purchase my cameras from a couple auction sites and Craigslist. From time to time I receive a camera with undeveloped film in it. The one time that happened to me on Craigslist, it was a camera from a close cousin of the seller, who had passed away. There were only a couple frames left on the roll so I clicked them off and notified him. He was happy to have the roll mailed back to him.

I just received an auction camera in the mail today with 20 pics already on the roll. This is the second time that has happened, plus two cards still in digital point and shoots.

Have any of you had this happen to you, and if so, have you been curious enough to have the film developed to see what was on them?

11-23-2020, 01:20 PM - 3 Likes   #2
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I'd be wary of doing this - should there be any illegal material on the film, the processor is duty bound to inform the authorities and, even if you convince them of your bona fides in the matter, the interview will still be recorded, which could affect prospects, say for employment or insurance. Safer to bin the film securely, or do a low-level format on the cards.
11-23-2020, 01:29 PM - 1 Like   #3
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As with this one, I pull the roll out, expose the whole roll, and then bin it. SD cards get reformatted. I am just amazed that people will donate their cameras without checking. I have picked up computers at the local recycling center to refurbish and give away, and have found hard drives complete with pictures and personal info.

Many here develop their own film, hence the curiosity.
11-23-2020, 01:47 PM   #4
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many times, things are being donated by the estate, essentially someone with little or no interest in what may still be available in the camrea/hard drive/etc...

11-23-2020, 01:59 PM - 3 Likes   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sam_I_am Quote
As with this one, I pull the roll out, expose the whole roll, and then bin it. SD cards get reformatted. I am just amazed that people will donate their cameras without checking. I have picked up computers at the local recycling center to refurbish and give away, and have found hard drives complete with pictures and personal info.

Many here develop their own film, hence the curiosity.
In the day of olde I worked for a company that sold film in yellow boxes. They sold millions of consumer cameras every year too. Also in yellow boxes. One of their interesting stats was the average consumer camera had 13 rolls of film run through it in it's lifetime. The span of time contained on a single roll of film can cover years in the life of the camera owner. That is why so many old cameras still have film in them.
11-23-2020, 03:03 PM - 2 Likes   #6
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I've beeen told that the 'average' 36 exposure roll of film starts with a Christmas, goes through two or three birthdays, and ends with the following Christmas - at which point the camera is taken to the nearest photo dealer to have a new roll of film put in.
11-23-2020, 03:06 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sam_I_am Quote
<snip>

Many here develop their own film, hence the curiosity.
Even so, I would certainly be wary - should the processed film fall into the 'wrong' hands (although in this case, the right ones, for protection of potential victims), then again it could be difficult to explain.
11-23-2020, 04:24 PM - 1 Like   #8
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Only two options as far as I see it.Try to return it to the original owner or destroy it.

11-23-2020, 05:24 PM - 1 Like   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by 35mmfilmfan Quote
I'd be wary of doing this - should there be any illegal material on the film, the processor is duty bound to inform the authorities and, even if you convince them of your bona fides in the matter, the interview will still be recorded, which could affect prospects, say for employment or insurance. Safer to bin the film securely, or do a low-level format on the cards.
I would go one further and do a rewrite of the cards with random data. Then reformat. Reformatting doesn't really delete anything, though once you fill the card up completely then the old data is overwritten.
11-23-2020, 05:26 PM - 2 Likes   #10
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I've had a couple of rolls developed, got some grainy snapshots of some people's travels on one roll, which was kind of interesting. But the possibility of something horrible being in the photos, though extremely unlikely does give me pause in this day and age! Mostly I just don't want to spend the money to have someone else's poorly composed shots developed.
11-23-2020, 06:39 PM - 1 Like   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sam_I_am Quote
As with this one, I pull the roll out, expose the whole roll, and then bin it. SD cards get reformatted. I am just amazed that people will donate their cameras without checking.
I would guess 95% of the people making these donations would not have a clue on how to check for film or a memory card. And on the ones that are being sold, percentage would be lower, but you can tell by the listings which sellers are selling their own gear, they usually know how to describe it and what is important. It seems like I've seen a few threads on here where someone bought a camera supposedly faulty that worked fine, which is way better than the other way around.
11-23-2020, 07:12 PM - 2 Likes   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by 35mmfilmfan Quote
I've beeen told that the 'average' 36 exposure roll of film starts with a Christmas, goes through two or three birthdays, and ends with the following Christmas - at which point the camera is taken to the nearest photo dealer to have a new roll of film put in.
I never realized people took 35mm cameras to a dealer to be loaded with film. I started with shooting my dad's nikon F2 as a kid and just bought film at Kmart or the gas station. I don't remember if he showed me how to load it or if it just fooled around and lucked out.
11-23-2020, 07:35 PM   #13
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A developer posted a few pics from a customer who bought a vintage camera a while ago, it was some elderly family/friends sort of portrait in B&W and seemed to be taken in the 60's.
I am shocked at how fresh the images turn out despite leaving in the camera for decades, they are confident that the people inside the pictures are likely long gone.
11-23-2020, 07:56 PM - 2 Likes   #14
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I would develop them.
11-23-2020, 08:17 PM - 1 Like   #15
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Years ago when I worked as a bookkeeper at a local church, a non-profit had borrowed the gym to have a charity sale. A number of volunteers were working to put donated items out on tables. The coordinator went behind putting price tags on things. On one table, she found a camera, and, knowing I was interested in photography, brought it to me to see how much it was worth. I took a look at a very nice 35mm rangefinder camera, and told her, $100 if it is in working condition. I snapped a couple of shots, everything seemed fine, so I opened the back to see if the shutter was firing and the lens was stopping down. Inside was a roll of film. I stripped it off and threw it in the trash, and finished my inspection of the camera. I handed it back to her and said, yes, definitely put $100 on it, if it doesn't sell at that maybe somebody will make a decent offer. About that time the pastor's wife wandered in to my office asking if anyone had seen her camera. Uh-oh. Yes it was hers, and she had absentmindedly sat it down on one of the tables for the charity sale and forgotten it. The pictures were from their recent vacation.
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