It feels weird, but I’m becoming less interested in buying new old cameras. Instead, I want to put more film in my favorite old cameras. I’m starting to enjoy making images more than playing with equipment.
I still troll the auction sites looking for cameras on my to-buy list. But that list has gotten mighty short:
- Canon Canonet – The first Canonet, from 1961, a 35mm aperture-priority rangefinder camera with an f/1.9 lens.
- Rollei 35 – This is among the smallest 35mm cameras ever made, and should be incredibly solidly made.
- Yashica Lynx 14 – A typical large, heavy 1960s 35mm rangefinder, but with an enormous f/1.4 lens.
- Yashica Mat 124 – I loved shooting my similar Yashica-D so much that I think I’d like to have a Mat 124 for its built-in light meter.
- Olympus 35 RC or RD – A small but mighty 35mm rangefinder. The RD has a better lens than the RC.
- Olympus Stylus – The first of the Stylus line, from 1991, it’s a marvel of miniaturization.
- Nikon FE – I want a mostly-mechanical Nikon SLR and this looks like a good compromise.
Some of these cameras (notably the Rollei, the Yashica-Mat, and the Nikon) will cost more than my usual $50 limit. But they will complete my collection, and so I’m willing.
I’m not closed to buying other cameras that charm me. I’m just becoming ever harder to charm.
A number of cameras are in a queue awaiting a test roll and should keep me busy for many months. The best of them are a Pentax Spotmatic SP, a Polaroid SX70, a Kodak Retina Reflex IV, and a pristine Kodak Pony 135 Model C donated by a reader.
But I am finding it hard to wait until I finish shooting all of those before I go back to cameras I want to try again. I have film in my Kodak Monitor right now, for example. I keep eyeing my Olympus Trip 35, my Kodak Brownie Starmatic, my Minolta XG-1, my Zeiss Ikon Contessa LK, and others, wanting to shoot with them again.
Maybe some of those cameras will join my vintage-camera inner circle, that set of cameras I really enjoy and will use over and over. Here’s that inner circle today:
- Yashica-D – I have a five-pack of (now discontinued) Kodak Ektachrome E100G chilling in the fridge just for this camera.
- Pentax ME – This is my go-to SLR, and I’m having a great time with the f/1.4 prime lens I recently bought for it.
- Olympus XA – I have film in this one right now. It’s got a great lens and it’s so easy to take along.
- Canon Canonet QL17 G-III – I finally have new light seals to put into this otherwise great performer.
- Polaroid Automatic 250 – I remain charmed by instant photography, and this is the finest Polaroid I’ve used.
Given that I’ve been buying old gear since I was nine years old (with a hiatus and a collection restart during the divorce years), this is a strange transition for me. But I’m looking forward to becoming a better photographer as I shoot the same cameras repeatedly and they become old friends that I know how to handle well.
I can see that nearly forty years of camera collecting has really been about finding a few cameras that I was always meant to use to make images that please me greatly. I’ve just about accomplished that.
Fortunately, shooting film has never been less expensive. Read why.
Last updated on 15 March 2020 by Jim Grey