While you’ve probably heard of large camera brands like Vivitar and Minolta, you may not be aware that dozens of smaller brand names exist, some of which are definitely worth considering when making a purchase. This article provides details on a number of camera brands of this type, along with information on where to find their products and how much they are worth.
Meikai: This is an Asian camera brand which has existed for many years. It primarily sells 35mm cameras, but Meikai binoculars can also be found on occasion. Meikai products are very common on eBay and online shopping websites. Meikai camera accessories, such as external flash units and tripods, are also available. Meikai’s most well-known camera may be the Meikai EL, a somewhat sophisticated camera with aperture settings which was made in the 1970s. Newer Meikai cameras include a tan point-and-shoot 35mm camera and at least two variations on a large motorized camera with aperture settings. The cameras are generally worth $2-15 and the flash units about $5.
Rokinon: This brand has sold a variety of camera accessories, including lenses and flash units. Rokinon 35mm cameras are also available, but less common than the accessories. Rokinon is also somewhat well-known as a brand of binoculars. The most common Rokinon camera is the 3000E, a large black camera with barrel-style lens and aperture settings. Rokinon has also sold a few different models of smaller point-and-shoot cameras, often red in color. Rokinon’s accessories, especially lenses, are usually more valuable than their cameras.
Mikona: Digital cameras from this brand are much more common than their other products, but Mikona flash units and 35mm cameras are also available. The MV-828 35mm camera with built-in flash is rectangular and looks somewhat like a Kodak S100EF or Pentax PC35AF. The Mikona digital cameras are fairly valuable, usually selling for $15 to $35 each. The digital cameras can be found on eBay and Staples.com.
Benz-Gant: This brand name is known only for one camera, the Helioflex 3000T. When introduced, it was featured in large newspaper advertisements, and usually sold with a tripod, flash unit, and other accessories. It has aperture settings and a panoramic-mode switch. There is no timer, but it is equipped for a shutter release cable. Although some photographers criticized it for not technically being an SLR (Single Lens Reflex) camera, it won some praise for being able to take fairly good photographs despite its relatively low price. The camera alone usually sells for $5-$15, and the value may increase up to $10 more depending upon which accessories are included.
Special Moments: These cameras minimally changed over time and were sold in a variety of colors, but they have always been basic 35mm point-and-shoot cameras. They have been sold at Dollar Tree stores for $1/each and can also be purchased on the internet at a slightly greater expense. Special Moments 35mm film is also available but less common.
Weston: While this brand is known by many only as a manufacturer of light/exposure meters, Weston cameras and flash units are also available. The Weston WX-7 camera, which has shutter speed and aperture adjustment rings, is still somewhat common and valued at approximately $5-$10. An adjustable W-18 flash unit can be found as well. Weston light meters can be worth anywhere from five to fifty dollars depending upon their condition, model number, and any accessories included (case, instructions).
Diana: The cameras made by this brand look to be of little value and have light leaks, but are valuable because they are somewhat rare and can be used for artistic purposes. These cameras are made of plastic and have aperture settings. A flash unit designed for them can also be found. Diana cameras sell on eBay for $20-$75.
Akira: This is a somewhat common Asian camera brand which has sold a variety of 35mm cameras and flash units. Akira cameras range from basic PC-606 point-and-shoot models to larger units with aperture controls and other features. Larger Akira cameras include the 2000, 2000N, 7000, and 7000DVT. The 7000 and 7000DVT are often sold with a flash unit and/or other accessories. The more recent 7000DVT and similar models appear to be of lower quality than the 7000 and older 2000-series. Some models have a barrel-style lens marked “Made in Japan”, while the camera body is indicated as “Made in China”. Akira cameras range in value from $2 to $25.
Lifelong: This brand of inexpensive electronics and cameras is sold at Walgreens’ stores. Their products can also be found on the internet, at yard sales, and at thrift stores. Lifelong’s yellow 35mm camera has a built-in lens cover, but there is no flash and it is not possible to connect a flash unit to it, so it is valued at less than $4.
Ultronic: Cameras from this brand, which also sells clock radios and PDAs, include a yellow point-and-shoot model and a more common panoramic camera with built-in lens cover. The panoramic camera is sometimes sold with a small photo album designed for panoramic photographs. Occasionally a black Ultronic camera with aperture settings can be found as well. Ultronic cameras are usually worth $2 to $5.
Windsor: A number of different products, including radios and flashlights, have been sold under the Windsor brand name. Two somewhat-common Windsor camera models can also be found. The Windsor WX-3 is a compact 35mm camera with aperture settings which is valued at approximately $5-$10. It has been praised by some photographers for being capable of producing good-quality photographs and having useful features while remaining inexpensive. There is also another more valuable (but lower quality) Windsor camera which is almost the same as the Diana camera mentioned above.
Overall, cameras made by smaller brand names vary in quality just as the well-known brands’ products do. If you would rather buy an expensive camera to avoid taking a risk, purchasing camera accessories (like flash units and tripods) made by such brands can be a good way to save money because these items are less likely to vary in quality. may be a good idea. While referring to other websites can be helpful in determining the quality of a camera, people should check to see if the person writing a review claims to have actually used the camera or not. Some websites feel free to criticize cameras they have not used merely because of they are not technically SLR (Single Lens Reflex) cameras, don’t have features which meet their personal standards, and/or based on appearance. It should also be considered that different types of film and photography techniques will affect the results.