This came up in the preceding days. If there was one at all, what's the one camera you almost bought, but didn't, that you now wish you had?
For me it was a beautiful new 5x7 Deardorff displayed at Ferrante-Dege in Cambridge, Mass. It was actually a 4x5 Special with a 5x7 back, I think. I was visiting my mother and stepfather (he taught at the Kennedy School) in the late '80s or early '90s, and I kept getting drawn back into Ferrante's as though by a tractor beam, to gaze longingly at that Deardorff. Here's what it looked like.
(And the reason I wanted a 5x7? Because Paul Caponigro used one! No lie.)
What about you?
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Featured Comments from:
Rodger Kingston: "It was 1973, and I was newly married and new to photography, still on my first camera, a Minolta SRT 101 single lens reflex (which I eventually ruined by backing into a swimming pool at a wedding rehearsal, but that's another story). A friend offered me a new Leica M2-R with a Dual Range Summicron and Close-Focus Attachment for the ridiculous price—if I remember correctly—of $250, with the proviso that if I didn't like the camera, I had to offer it back to him at the price he sold it to me for.
"A complete newbie, I was used to the tunnel vision of an SLR, and found the inscribed frame of the Leica rangefinder unsettling to use, so after a short time I sold it back to him. Now, four decades later, my favored cameras have been rangefinder/viewfinder style for many years (including a few Leicas), but none as sweet as that M2-R that I let slip away because I didn't have the sense to learn how to see with it. There have been other cameras that I've loved—the Contax T and TVS, for example, and my current Fuji X20—but that Leica M2-R truly remains the unforgettable One That Got Away."
Mike Plews: "I needed a 120 camera and a friend was paring back his studio. He had three Rolleiflex cameras for sale, a 2.8f a wide Rollei and a Tele Rollei and wanted $125 for each. I bought the 2.8 and passed on the other two. This would have been about 1972 and another $250 was just too rich for my blood."
Mike replies: Ouch, and also ouch. For those who don't know, the Tele Rollei and especially the Rollei Wide now sell for roughly $1k and $3k respectively, or they did the last time I looked.
Gordon Lewis: "Here's the thing: All of the cameras I may have lusted for in the past were film cameras, which means that if I had bought them they would either be sitting unused with the other film cameras I did buy or I would have sold them. So no, no regrets there. As for digital cameras, I find it hard to project much glory or emotional satisfaction onto them. They're just recalcitrant tools I have to bend to my will to get the job done."
Tom Hassler: "For me, it wasn't a camera or other gear, but two beautiful prints that got away. It was 1979. I was living in L.A. and saw two Arnold Newman prints in a gallery priced at $400 each. One was his iconic portrait of Igor Stravinsky, the other a lesser known but equally wonderful picture.
"I was newly in the working world and money was tight. I re-visited the gallery three times in the next month to look at the prints, each time wishing and hoping I could find a way to make a purchase. In the end I had to pass in the interest of paying my rent. In retrospect, I may have made the wrong choice.
"I've thought of these events many times over the years. The lesson learned was 'find a way to make it happen.' Some opportunities only come along once.
"P.S. Taking my own advice, I just made it in under the wire on the latest Caponigro print sale!"
Mike replies: I hear ya Tom. I had a chance to buy one of these in the '80s for $1,200, and almost pulled the trigger but didn't:
That's from a Christie's auction page. That print was almost certainly made by Voja Mitrovic, by the way.
John Boeckeler: "The one that got away from me was a beautiful little Retina IIIc folding rangefinder that I traded in for a used Nikon S1 at Ferrante-Dege in 1963. I don't remember why I did it—probably just because I wanted a Nikon—but I missed that beautiful Retina. I bought it at the PX in Port Lyautey, Morocco in 1958.
"I got a Rollei 3.5F there the same year for about $150 and ran many, many rolls of film through it over the years until the film transport mechanism finally gave out for good about 1998 and couldn't be repaired for lack of parts. I've had a lot of cameras over the years, but for sheer use and production none could beat the 3.5F. As for the Nikon S1, I gave it to my wife when I got a Pentax Spotmatic in 1966."
Mike replies: You've enjoyed some "camera aristocrats" over the years.