As my sixtyninth year draws to a close, I need to get a grip on my terrible habit of recklessly acquiring cameras, and even reverse the trend. We shall see!
When I first joined Ipernity, I thought that the idea of the article facility was great, but in reality, I haven't used it very much, so this is a little piece, to make amends!
I am on the brink of starting my seventh decade, and I have decided to reduce my ridiculously over large collection of cameras. Actually getting to the point where I am prepared to do this was hard enough, but deciding what must go, and what can stay, has proved to be even more difficult than I had imagined.
The parameters for selection are, of course, personal, but include the kind of photos I normally take, the quality I expect of the negatives, cost of operation, size and weight, convenience of use, and the sheer fun of using something either very old, or very rare.
Some very old friends will be among the departed, cameras that I have owned for many years, cameras that have earned me decent money, cameras that are so rare that very few people have ever heard of them, still less used one, - I have been ruthless, and have not let sentiment stand in my way!
My days of technical & scientific photography are well behind me, I can no longer justify the RB67 Pro, and in fact, fitted with the metering prism and the 127mm lens, I can barely lift it anyway! Same goes for the Mamiya C series, and their wonderful, but heavy double lenses, - arcane folders from the early part of the last century, 1960's built SLR's, so heavy that they could be used as offensive weapons, as well as sundry folders, - rangefinders, both Soviet & Japanese, and a large number of odd cameras of no particular interest - they all have to go!
Now, what has made it into the Top Ten? Well, in fact it is only seven, plus a few duplicates for spares! I chose one folder of each of the common medium formats, and those that I enjoy using most, combined with an acceptable image quality, - for 6x9 I chose the Kodak Tourist I, so far ahead of any other 6x9 folder I have ever used that it was the natural choice; 6x6 was hard, but the Voigtlander Bessa 66 wins, because it is so small, and the Heliar lens is a dream, (the Agfa Ventura 66, with Solinar lens, although unused until I bought it, missed out because you can't close it with a filter on the lens, and the 85mm focal length), and the 6x4.5 place went to the Ensign Selfix 16-20, as much for wanting at least one English made camera, as any other reason, but it is nicely made, and I enjoy using it.
35mm I thought, needed three groups, with slightly different criteria, interchangeable lens SLR's, rangefinders, and point 'n shoots. You may be surprised that both the SLR's are Z series Mamiyas, a ZM, the last model 35mm Mamiya ever made, and it's precursor, an early ZE. I have owned both for many years, so sentiment played some part, but they are also small, light, use easy to get LR44 batteries, and have superb lenses, plus, I have more accessories, tubes, dedicated flashes, and so on, for them, than you can point a stick at, and, by no means a minor consideration, the whole lot would be worth very little if sold anyway!
The most interesting choices are rangefinders, I wanted to keep one "oddity", - I love the Agfa Karat/Rapid system, not least because you can load a cassette straight from a big bulk roll, without needing a bulk loader contraption, and I like square format 35mm, and both criteria are fulfilled by the Minolta 24 Rapid, which also happens to be quite rare, so scored on all three counts! The other rangefinder is an Agfa Karat, but not a Rapid version, it's the Karat IV which uses ordinary 35mm cassettes - I wanted a 35mm folder in the selection, and it has the lovely f2 Solagon lens, and is another comparitive rarity, so another full score there! The last camera is my most recent aquisition, (nothing like the zeal of the newly converted!), the wonderful little Nikon L35 AF is my point and shoot of choice, not the smallest of the genre, but a razor sharp Sonnar clone, unerringingly accurate exposure, and an almost undefeatable autofocus, put it way out in front of the competition.
That's it then, my choices for the next decade, - beyond that, who knows! It will probably take a year to get rid of the rest anyway! I do have a couple of digital cameras, and they are ideal for advertising shots, family snaps, pictures of the garden and pets, and so on, but as a hobby, they are a bit wanting, and since I've just been given a superb professional enlarger, plus a complete darkroom set up, it seems a shame to waste it!
Perhaps this little note will prompt you to think about what cameras would make it into your Top Ten, or Top Five, or even which single camera?