Koni Omega 'Rapid' medium format camera, lenses & accessories, $60

This Koni Omega medium format camera was a bit of a gamble because it was quite a bit to pay for a camera I had no solid knowledge of. I don’t normally spend much money for any photography-related item unless I’m pretty certain what it will sell for.

One of the first things I did was to look at what was included with the camera. There were the other lens, some filters and a few other gadgets that actually belong with this camera and will undoubtedly be needed and used by the new owner. These items add value to the camera, so the more stuff you get with a camera, the safer you usually are because you can sell them separately if necessary.

I also considered the overall condition of the outfit, which was absolutely perfect. And bidders - especially the ones interested in vintage precision stuff like cameras - really appreciate equipment that’s been taken care of.

Finally, I considered what the camera actually is, so I’m going to wander off topic for the next few paragraphs as I try to explain what interested me. The most popular film-type cameras around nowadays use 35 millimeter film, which, as we've seen, refers to the fact that each 'frame' - or the portion of film that is exposed for each photograph - measures 35 millimeters wide by 24 millimeters high. That’s a pretty good sized piece of film for most uses, allowing for a decent amount of enlargement without degrading the image. Remember that every negative must be 'enlarged' to the size of the photograph, or else you end up with a print the same size as the negative, which you don't want.

Do you remember those little 110 cameras that were popular back in the 70’s and 80’s? I had one, and although it was very compact, the pictures never had the same clarity and crispness that I got from my 35mm camera. This is because the 110 negative - which is the part of film that gets enlarged to make the photograph - is only 13mm by 17mm! So, whereas each 35mm negative has a total of 864 square millimeters of surface area (35 x 24,) the 110 negative measures a measly 221 square millimeters (13 x 17,) or barely one-fourth the surface area.

If you’re at all familiar with digital cameras, you’re aware of the race to constantly up the 'megapixel' ratings of these cameras. A dozen or so years ago, a 1.3 megapixel camera was up near the top of the heap, pixel-wise. Nowadays the average is many times that. Megapixels are to digital cameras what the size of the negative is to film cameras, because the more you have, the larger, clearer and crisper your photographs can be. Now that I have that part out of the way, let’s get back to the Koni-Omega.

This vintage 1968 Koni-Omega camera is what is known as a medium format, or '2 ¼ x 2 ¼,' camera. Chances are good that you’ve never heard these terms before, but don't worry. So often in this business, we encounter terminology, brand names and other details that mean nothing at all to us at the time, which we find out later are of utmost importance to followers of that particular business, hobby or trade on eBay. 'Medium format' gets its name from the fact that each time the shutter is snapped, a piece of film measuring a full 2 ¼ inches square, or 3136 square millimeters of surface area, is exposed. That’s over 3 ½ times the surface area as a 35mm negative, so we’re talking very high resolution here!

Here's something interesting to think about. Due to the incredible popularity of the 35mm SLR camera, most people who aren’t familiar with the field of photography aren’t even aware that other film formats exist, except for stuff like 110 film cameras. They think the 35mm camera is the ultimate camera of choice among those people who want the very best in photography. They see this type of camera as obsolete, which is why they don’t pay attention when they see these 'old' medium format cameras - they can’t imagine who would want them or why they’d be in use today!

In actuality, the medium format camera provides more technical quality in obtaining a perfect image than the 35mm camera does. Many photography purists consider the 35mm a 'hobby' camera, and use the medium format camera exclusively. Medium format excels in candid street scenes, portraits, landscapes, weddings, and just about anyplace where lightning fast action, very close up, or telephoto work is not involved. So, although these medium format cameras may be a little older and heavier than their 35mm counterparts, dedicated eBayers still happily fight over them when they appear!

Important: When you’re paying more than a few dollars for something, try to ensure that it works. This may sound like common sense, but it’s too easy to get caught up in the excitement of making the deal and forget to make sure you’re not buying something broken. With cheap items, I'll take my chances and even buy it if it’s broken. But if I’m shelling out real cash for a camera, I want to make sure it works, and if possible, I want the owner to actually demonstrate it for me!

This Koni Omega Rapid sold on eBay for $265.

Photo of Koni Omega Rapid medium format camera