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Sunday, 26 April 2009


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¿No hay Hasselblad?

A nice walk through my own history, as I've owned or used extensively almost all on the list or a very close relative. Nice tools, and I can appreciate the craft and engineering in them, though, as a counterpoint, I don't collect them. In fact, my array of "collectible" hand wood working tools is being thinned, as I don't use them any more. Cameras are sold or passed on when I no longer use them; in fact tools in general.

It seems a little sad to see a great tool, no longer used.

The output, the product is another story, as that I do "collect".

Just me, not a "tool" collector.


What no Teague masterpieces? The Kodak Bantam Special or Vanity Kodak Ensemble? Fie!

I have about 10 or 12 cameras, but don't think of myself as a collector since I use all of them, and occasionally sell them or upgrade when I see a camera I think I'll use more than one I already have.

The one I've kept as a collectible that I'm not planning to use anymore is the 1999 Time Magazine machine of the year, the 3.3 Mpix Nikon Coolpix 990, which I think of as the Ermanox of digital cameras--the first one that a significant number of journalists were using for serious work. It offered full manual control--focus, aperture, and shutter speed--and enough resolution for most print journalism. I bought it for around $1000 with some grant money I had to use up before it expired, mainly for archiving documents and doing research in libraries. With maximum compression and maximum image size, I could fit a lot of pages on a CF card with enough resolution to convert pages to text files with optical character recognition software.

My Argus C3 is miffed to not be mentioned.

Oh, heck, I can't sustain that. I think nearly all old cameras are fun, just because they are clever little machines with lots of bits.

One of my favorite volunteer jobs was identifying, describing and assessing the condition of a museum's antique camera collection. The collapsible bellows cameras in particular were like a bunch of intricate puzzles - each one opened differently and I had to figure out how to do so without damaging them. Great fun.

Something else that collectors might find worth pursuing is supporting technology - film projectors, slide projectors, light boxes, etc. I have one wonderful old slide projector that has clips and slots inside so that it all locks down into a single unit of press-formed metal. And it still works! (Though I don't use it much because I don't know if the bulbs are still available. Probably not.)

It looks not too dissimilar to this one.

Other suggestions:

(1) a Holga,
(2) any medium-format SLR (NOT just Hasselblads),
(3) a consumer point-and-shoot film camera - Hey! These probably accounted for 95%+ of all pictures taken in the decades leading up to the digital revolution (if you want one that is inexpensive, but has a good, fast lens, try the Olympus Epic)
(4) a Nikon F100 (your list doesn't include any autofocus film cameras, and the F100 was one of the best)
(5) a Pentax MX or ME Super (as the pinnacle of the small SLR movement, yet with great viewfinders)

Also, while true connoisseurs may want to follow your advice and buy "a Graflex", "a Leica", "a Rollei", etc., I would suggest rephrasing this list as:

- A press camera (such as a Graflex Speed Graphic)
- A rangefinder (such as a screwmount Leica with a 50mm collapsible Elmar)
- A TLR (such as a Rollei [or Yashicamat])
- etc.

But then it all depends on what and why you are collecting. Your list works well as a list of canonical or historically important cameras. I try to buy different "types" of cameras to see what it is like to use them - I don't particularly care what the brand/model is, or what condition they are in, as long as the camera has good ergonomics, a sharp lens and is in good working order. Until you have tried it, you don't realize how different it is to work with a rangefinder, a TLR or a Pentax 67. It can be a very, very pleasant revelation and will make you realize what we are missing with today's all-are-same cameras. On the other hand, it will turn you into a crank who posts on obscure* blogs bitching about how things used to be better in "the good old days"...


P.S. Another collecting suggestion: trying to collect within a single system or even a single camera. Someone once suggested collecting every accessory to the Nikon F3, to give an example of how specialized you can get, yet still have plenty to collect.

*No offence to T.O.P., but it -would- be considered obscure by anyone not into photography...or cameras!

Should have counted back from ten. Much more fun.

Anyway, I once worked in a camera store and was offered a nifty Nikon 995 which we used to loan to clients. You know, the one with the swivel head? I declined. 3 Megapixels wasn't gonna cut it for me...sigh

Maybe a Kodak Instamatic?

Hah! Early digitals are cool. Partly because if you have a number of the early ones, seperated into a few generations worth, you can see the progression made in form factor and ergonomics. Then you realise at how much everyone was flapping around trying to define the market.

Emergent tech is usually quite fun to study. The earliest stage is usually where a lot of innovations and not-quite-great ideas come together.

"Maybe a Kodak Instamatic?"

Absolutely. With unfired Flash Cubes. [g]


I didn't start out to be a collector. I just wanted cameras that would give me a wide variety of formats. Since my budget was very small, I was limited to old cameras, but they had to be users. It's been a very educational experience. Thanks to the Internet I've learned much about the history of cameras and using these old cameras puts me in touch with the photographers that used them new. I also discovered that a camera that took great pictures 70 years ago will still take great pictures. Who knew?

A late 19th–early 20th century folding or box wooden view camera. I had an early 20th century 5x7 Kodak 2D but it went to pay rent a number of years ago. Now I have what was probably the last of the working wooden view cameras: a mid 20th century 5x7 Burke & James Commercial View. The high end studios had their Deardorffs but the blue-collar view camera was the Commercial View. The end of an era.

A Kodak box camera. I want a box camera I can use so that narrows it to 120 and 620. I have a 120 Zeiss Box Tengor from the 1930s and a 1950s Kodak Brownie Hawkeye Flash Model. A beauty in bakelite. It's a 620 but it's not hard to respool 120 onto the 620 spools. They are both 6x6. I also have a 6x9 Kodak Brownie Bulls-eye from the 1950s. These simple cameras take way better pictures than you would suspect.

A Graflex Speed Graphic. I've had a couple in different formats but now I'm finishing off a 4x5 Burke & James press camera. It had been stripped of it's rangefinder to make it a field camera. It has a lot more front movements than the Speed Graphics. I'm adding a Kalart rangefinder back on it and should have it functioning soon. A related camera is the 4x5 single lens reflex Graflex. It was used as a press camera before the Speed Graphics. Lewis Hine, Paul Strand, and Dorothea Lange took a lot of iconic pictures with these cameras. I have a 4x5 and 3 1/4 x 4 1/4 with bag mags.

A good folder. As a user camera a good folder is a joy. I tried an Agfa Isolette II but the bellows were trash. Then came a 1937 Zeiss Ikon Super Ikonta B but the rangefinder was broken. I finally spent a few extra dollars and am running my first roll of film through a 1953 dual-format (6x6 and 6x4.5) Mamiya-6 folder with coupled rangefinder. Medium format in a coat pocket. I also just bought what appears to be the best of the Kodak folders: a 1946 Kodak Monitor Six-20 with at Kodak Anastigmat Special tessar lens. A compact 6x9 camera with no rangefinder but there is a wonderful vertical rangefinder that can be used in the accessory shoe: the Kodak Service Range Finder.

A screwmount Leica with a 50mm collapsible Elmar. My collection started with my grandfather's 1949 Leica IIIc. He bought it new and had it with him in Japan in 1949 during the occupation. Unfortunately it doesn't have the Elmar. I have to make do with the Summitar 50/2 it came with. I'll manage. I also have what many consider to be the finest Leica screwmount camera: The Canon P. A jewel of a camera. I wanted to experience the early rangefinderless Leicas but they are too expensive. I have a Soviet Zorki 1 ( Leica II copy) that had the broken rangefinder removed making it into a Zorki Standard. I have the Industar-50 on it, an Elmar copy.

A Rollei TLR. So many nice TLRs! I have a Meopta Flexaret Va and a Ricoh Diacord.

The Pentax Spotmatic. I have a black SP and a chrome SP F with a collection of lenses from 17mm to 300mm. All are Super Takumars or Super Multi-Coated Takumars but for 2, including a Super Multi-Coated Takumar 50/1.4 that I had to leave on a windowsill last summer to burn out the yellow in the glass. It worked. I'm not sure the Spotmatic has truly been improved upon. A great 35mm SLR. I also have an earlier generation meterless Pentax SV waiting for a CLA.

The Polaroid SX-70. I bought a nice black one just as production of the 600 film ceased. I used the 600 film with a ND filter. I'm waiting for the Polaroid film redesign effort to succeed.

An early digital camera. Somewhere in a box is the 1.3 megapixel Olympus D-600L I bought in early 1998 for $1,000. I need to find it and see if it still works.

So many cameras, so little time!

I first learned to take pictures on a borrowed Spotmatic II, and it was the only camera it ever used that never made me think ‘gee, this is working well enough, but if only it could...’

There were plenty of things it couldn't do, of course, but it had a magic way of never letting me notice them and never making me think I needed them. It told me everything I could imagine wanting to know, and did exactly what I told it to do, and never let me forget that I had nobody to blame but myself if I hadn't instructed it properly.

I have to presume that the first camera you use must seem something like this no matter what kind it is, but the Spotmatic kept me convinced for years, even after I'd made the acquaintance of a number of other cameras.

Once while assisting on location, I was left in charge of the set while everyone dashed off to lunch. Checking to see that everything was secure, I tripped over an extension cord and watched in abject horror as the 8X10 Deardorff fell flat on its face.

I let out a cinematic, slow motion, Mel Gibson, "Noooooo!" as I simultaneously contemplated: suicide, fleeing New York never to be seen of again, and rearranging the entire set to make it look like I courageously fended off a pack of vicious muggers.

Slowly, I got up, nauseously righted that classic grand piano of a camera- and was absolutely amazed and astonished (to this very day some thirty years after the fact) that the lenshood had been pushed back and absorbed the full impact of the fall without any damage to the rest of the camera!

The photographer never could figure out how he had bent his lenshood.

One interesting thing about this list:
All of these cameras (subject to film availability) will make fine photos, apart (probably) from the early digital camera.

Your comment really resonated with me! I had the same sort of reaction to the Spotmatic, which I came to later on in life. It wasn't perfect, but if I ever win the lottery and get to design the perfect (ha) camera, it will have a lot of Spottie DNA (although it will also have a real spotmeter, too!).


It's your list, and you can obviously choose what you put on it, but I was surprised to see the Olympus OM-1 ommitted as a collectable. An iconic and ground-breaking camera if ever there was one - and IMHO at least on a par with the AE-1.

It's good to see that Olympus have finally seen sense and started to return to the small, convenient but high quality cameras for which they became famous.

That woulda worked too. I was trying to stick to cameras that would be relatively affordable (although I notice that good Speed Graphics have just about doubled in price in the last five or ten years), so people wouldn't get put off thinking they had to bleed all kinds of money. The OM-1 is affordable too (unlike the OM-4T).

In addition to some of the other good suggestions in the comments, one would need a few '70s compact rangefinders--see Stephen Gandy's CameraQuest for those.

Ten cameras doth not a collection make, of course.


I have a pauper's collection of early auto-focus, auto-exposure, MANUAL WIND, point & shoots. There were probably less than 20 manufactured in all, and most can be acquired for little money, though a few are very hard to come by.

The most appalling of these is the Russian Elicon Autofocus. On the other hand, the Minolta AF2 is an excellent performer with a sharp 38mm lens. (The Minolta AF-C is probably the smallest...also a neat camera.) Due to astigmatism, I've always struggled with rangefinders, so AF was a boon. However, manufacturers didn't wait long until they added noisy autowinds, which were simply awful in the early days. I've always thought that manual-wind AF cameras were a sweet spot in cameras made for the general public.

Great list, Mike. It is sure to make my list of top top 10 lists (or maybe that's top TOP 10 lists). Speed Graphics remind me of Swiss Army knives -- you can get them to do sooo much. For an affordable addition: A Mamiya C TLR (probably still 1/3 the price of a comparable Rollei). You know, I had one of those Kodak instamatics with the flash cube on top. Probably my first camera. - Ben Marks

I'd add a recommendation for a Pentax Auto 110 SLR. That's a good first choice for covering instamatic formats, plus chicks dig 'em.

A couple years back, I spent some time learning about camera collecting, thinking it was something I wanted to do for fun. I was torn between a wide ranging collection and a specific collection and figured on a hybrid approach (a little of this & that but an extra helping of 70's era compact rangefinders). Fortunately, I spent so long reading about them, I think that got the bug out of my system and lost interest :) (I do have an old folder, a 100 & 126, a Ricoh 500 and a Minolta HiMatic 7sII and my lovable Rollei TLR).

Not that any of that is interesting, but I bookmarked some sites while learning about collecting and thought I'd share them ... the names should give you a hint as to what most of them are about:


I only started collecting, if it even can be called that (I just like how they look about the place), after somebody miraculously gave me a perfect Spotmatic a few years ago, as a birthday present. You're right, it's a gorgeous camera.

Now my collection includes the Spotmatic, A Nikon F and an F2 Photomic, an ME Super, A Canon AE-1, an OM-2, a Topcon Super-D, and a variety of lesser known SLRs and rangefinder cameras.
I guess I specialize in 60s and 70s chrome 35mm cameras. I love 'em.

A friends little daughter asked me why I have all those cameras displayed around the place. I told her it is like her dolls and bears: they comfort me.

The Canon AE 1 my first best 35mm reflex camera I ever owned--Traded in all my Leica stuff for them. Range finders are not the best for critical aliment of table top subjects--The next step up was the one of Canons best the T 90 unfortunately the tech guys forgot to put a PC connector in it--What a big surprise when I tried to find it--Hey Canon where is the PC contact--"we forgot to put it in the camera". Still, motor drive and 5 frames/sec. in a very smallish body.

" [the AE-1's] top plate—previously the most expensive single part of SLRs—was ABS plastic, cleverly chrome-plated to look like metal."

Wow, I had no idea! I just went and looked at mine, and the only way I can tell is by carefully comparing the perceptive temperature of the bottom plate with that of the top plate! (They are both room temperature, of course, but the metal drains the heat from your hand faster and so feels colder.)

So how come silver cell phones are so stunningly ugly, when you can make plastic look just like metal?

"the T 90 unfortunately the tech guys forgot to put a PC connector in it--What a big surprise when I tried to find it--Hey Canon where is the PC contact--'we forgot to put it in the camera'."

I know what you mean--same thing with the N8008. I had to buy those PC contacts you slide on to the hot shoe. Actually I came to like those, because if the PC socket got too loose from overuse, you just bought another $15 unit instead of having to take the whole camera in for a new contact. If I were still doing a lot of stuff with lighting I would use those, instead of using the one built into the camera. Anything to keep the cameras out of the paws of the repair guys....


"So how come silver cell phones are so stunningly ugly, when you can make plastic look just like metal?"

Because now everybody knows it's plastic, and nobody minds, so they just use silverish-colored plastic. In those days the charge of "plastic" could be death on a product that people felt was supposed to be metal, so Canon was very careful to disguise the ABS top plates well. I *really* don't know this for a fact, but I heard that the AE-1 [et al.] top plates were double chrome plated to enhance the look'n'feel of metal.

At more or less the same time, there was a Canon lens that was essentially sunk in the marketplace because the word got around that the lens was "plastic." I really can't remember what lens it was. A 300 maybe? Anyway the truth was just that fluorite, which Canon was using to correct dispersion, was fragile, and couldn't be bonded easily to glass, so they used a band of plastic around the EDGES of the elements to hold them sandwiched together--that is, no plastic in the optical path. No dice though--as soon as the word got out that the lens was "plastic" nobody would buy it.

And then a dozen years later Canon was using optical acrylics for bonded hybrid aspherics, and nobody cared, that's how much the public perception had changed, and how fast.


Ah, the AE-1. The only camera I no longer use that I still own. Sentimental value and all....

Some of the early digitals are kind of interesting. I still have a Toshiba M70 that of all things has a PC sync port and a unique infinity-focus setting that worked great with the optical viewfinder for sports as the shutter release was almost instant. And until seeing some of the new live-view DSLRs, there was no plan of me letting go of my Sony F717 - a great 'flower' and macro camera.

One area I've been colletcing is early AF cameras. There are still some great picture-taking machines out there that can be had for not much more than a week's worth of lattes. Last week I grabbed a Canon EOS Elan for $35 that spent the weekend mated to an old Takumar 85/1.8 via adapter. Great stuff.

Good start set.

Personally, I enjoy using cameras and I'm just starting my collection.

Rangerfinder: For someone on a limited budget, some of the non-replaceable lens rangefinders (Canonet QL-17 / Minolta Hi-Matic etc) are a great inexpensive way to get into film rangerfinders, and they taken wonderful photos.

Manual focus SLR: I'm a Nikon shooter, so my choice was a FM2n - both for availability, performance and price. Great lens choices too.

TLR: This will be my next purchase and I'm not sure which way to go yet. Again, having a limited budget I may go with a Yashica instead of the Rollei.

Medium format SLR: I'm undecided here. Certainly a Hassleblad is in the running, but some of the 645e's can be had for a song and still deliver stunning images.

Again, for me the most important thing is that I use whatever I purchase, so I'm trying to stick to something I can develop at home.

Great blog post, good to think about.

Yay - I've got an AE-1. Had it from new in about '80 and used ever since. Even occasionally today. Of course, the battery door's broken and the foam is a bit flaky, so it wouldn't be much use to collect (dust), but I can still make pictures with it sometimes.

A friend still has and uses a T90 and an Ftb


I have the best camera ever made ;-)

Pentax LX, with Pentax A-50mm F/1.2
I'm sure it will outlast me.

"I have the best camera ever made"

I can't argue with that.


My first camera was a late 1950s Kodak Brownie 8mm movie camera, the kind with the 3-lens turret on the front. Made a few movies with it in high school. Then graduated to real movie cameras, a Nikon, a Leica, 4x5, etc. etc. When ebay first took off, I did the typical stroll down memory lane, showing my kids ebay photos of my first bike, first camera, etc. and end up buying a mint version of the old Brownie 8mm. Well, that got the ball rolling, and I didn't stop until I'd found and bought every quality representative example of the world's turret-lensed 8mm cameras. Some are pedestrian junk, of course, but one is perhaps the most amazing piece of camera-manufacturing I've ever owned - the Bolex D8La, that last turret model they made. It is an absolute piece of precision-made jewelry. Half Swiss watch, half camera. And yes, I shot film through all those cameras. If you think images from a 3.3mp digicam are limp, you should project an 8mm film frame onto a 3-metre screen!

"I have the best camera ever made"

I can't argue with that.


Please, elaborate.
So, all in all, it seems that Asahi made the photographic paragon ever, and almost no one realized?

As for mating the LX to, say, the Super-Tak 1.4 or the FA 31?

scrinch, scrinch
[me, scratching my head].


If you're on the fence, allow me to push you over onto the Yashicamat side of it. If nothing else, buying a Yashicamat will allow you to get a feel for what you want out of a TLR without spending much. Then you can buy a more expensive model if you think that's necessary.

Why a Yashicamat? Well, here are some of the plusses to a Yashicamat (especially vs. some of the older/cheaper Rolleis):

- Built-in light meter (at least on my Yashicamat 124G, not sure about other models)
- Light (i.e., low weight)
- Very good ergonomics: shutter speed and aperture controls are conveniently located, shutter speed and aperture are readily visible (though not through the viewfinder)film advance is via folding crank, rather than turning a knob. My only complaint is the shutter release, which is the standard TLR design (i.e., shutter release located on the front in the bottom corner), whereas I prefer the side-mounted plunger-style release of the Zeiss TLRs
- Very light
- Bright viewfinder screen
- Very, very light
- Cheap

If you plan on using the lens wide open much of the time, then the Rolleis are probably a better bet (avoid ones with Triotar lenses, you probably want at least a Tessar), but you have to pay a lot for that added performance.

I personally find that I use my Yashicamat more than a lot of my other MF gear because it is just so small and light that I can sling it over my shoulder and not even notice it's there. And the lightmeter is a big, big plus. 'Mats make great user cameras.



I should have added that the film-wind crank also cocks the shutter, which is another convenience missing from some of the cheaper/older Rolleis if I remember correctly.


Oh, I don't think "no one ever realized" is a fair characterization. The LX had legions of fans in its day, and still retains some now. It has a great size and feel with the grip attached, a great viewfinder, and is a thorough expression of '80s SLR utilitarianism. And the build quality is very high. With one of the great Pentax 50's on it, it was a very pleasing camera.

The only things I minded about it were that it's kind of noisy, in the old '70s SLR manner (ever used a Nikkormat EL2? SNNNAP!) and the nonstandard strap lugs were sort of a pain. And aesthetically I never liked that high-'80s-style molded plastic shutter speed knob.

But if it's somebody's favorite, as I say, I won't argue. I still have one, although it's broken. I've been meaning to get it fixed for years....


You forgot to mention that Yashicamat 124G's are very expensive today (relative to what they were back when they were new) which definitely speaks to their continuing popularity as users. You can always tell when people like something, because they don't go begging.


I've got everything on your list in my collection. One more I'd add would be a freaky camera. A camera that operates off the beaten path. In my collection the top 2 spots in the freaker category would be the Widelux F6 and a Graph-Check 400. Folks may be familiar with swing-lens-pano cameras, but the Graph Check is a sequence camera that takes 8 exposures (approx 35mm size) on a sheet of 4x5.

In my opinion, if you can get by without a meter, the Pentax H1a or H3v are just perfect. Slightly smaller than the Spotmatic they feel just right, like the screwmount Leica.
Also how about a Kodak Tourist? If the shutter works it will take great photos.
A Petri 2.8 CCS.A Konica S2,Olympus XA, O,
I can think of so many.

Great thread!
I'm not a camera collector but our home is filled with cameras I just can't let go of.
I still have my dads old Argus C3. He carried it all over Korea during the war and I still have a box of Kodachromes he shot. They look like they came back from the lab yesterday.
So a brick might fit into the list here. I wouldn't trade dads for a brand new M8.
I would also add an Olympus XA as a worthy addition to your shelf.
Lately something interesting has been happening to my "non collection".
It's getting picked clean by my son. He is 23 and finishing up a BFA degree at the University of South Dakota. His emphasis is on photography and he is deep into traditional methods.
The first camera to head north was a nice old Nikon FTN and a 20mm lens. The lens gave him a really sweet look to work with. The prints he brought back were so nice I told him to keep the camera.
The next box to disappear was a pretty Pacemaker Graphic with a 135 Xenar and a 90mm Angulon.
For my birthday last year he gave me a handful of palladium prints from negatives from the camera. In the fall he dropped off a 20X24 he made from a 4x5 sheet of Velvia 50 exposed in the old graphic, yikes, talk about pretty. You could lose yourself in the print it's so pack with gorgeous detail.
I told him to keep that camera too. What the heck, he's already done more with it in a year than I did in twenty.
Last year a friend took his studio all digital and sold me an extra Hassy set up. The 500cm a 50, 250 and an assortment of bits is, you guessed it, up north finishing up his senior project.
That camera WILL come home, just not yet.
I guess I'm a little like those gray haired guys in flowered shirts polishing the hot rods they couldn't afford when they were young.
Well, a 69 Camaro is out of reach for me but the film boxes I lusted after as a pup are often being sold off by the pound.
Go out there and enjoy yourselves.
Again, lovely thread here.

Ten selected cams, ten cameras to start a collection, cameras, cameras, cameras. Would you please stop that? Couldn't you just give us the next Howdy Doody of photography? Some relevant pictures - in a row.

Something worthy the attention it receives?

This blog has turned to some kind of thoughtless camera-worship, and I freaking hate it.

I´m not THAT old [wasn´t born when nikkormats were on the market].

What I do remember is the noise comparison between the Nikon F´s, the Pentax Z´s and the Minolta 7000.

The last one was a sledgehammer, I remember.
I still have to see if I can find my old Electro 35.

I'm enjoying the stroll down memory lane here. I've worked with something in each class except the wooden view camera.

I do think the omission of the Hasselblad 500C or some such is pure and simple a mistake. They were truly iconic cameras. They sent them to the moon! And to about every wedding in the country, for at least 20 years.

I seem to remember the Canon AE-1 being somewhat looked down on. I mean, it took good enough pictures, but you know, it had auto-exposure, which of course no real photographer would ever use. And it would prevent anybody starting on a camera that had it from ever learning to set exposure themselves, you know. (I pretty clearly remember thinking that fairly seriously. Luckily it appears that I was wrong.)

Charles & Mike P.: I'd like to 3rd the suggestion of the Olympus XA. Great camera. One of my favorites, in fact. A real marvel of miniturization that is still eminently usable.

Mike: Yashicamats might be expensive relative to what they cost back in the day (I'll take your word for it), but they are still pretty cheap compared to a Rollei, especially if you start adding in the cost of a CLA, handheld light meter and replacement ground glass to get an older Rollei up to the level of a new-ish 'Mat.

One cost-saving tip: go for a non-G 124 model. They are pretty much identical, but go for less. IF YOU ARE PATIENT, you should be able to get a 124 or 124G on eßay for $150 (or less). Patience is a real virtue on that site. If you don't give up, you will eventually get cameras for a steal, but you might have to bid on 10 cameras before you do. Prices go up when people don't win 2 or 3 auctions, then feel compelled to go to a much higher price.

Patience, grasshopper.


"This blog has turned to some kind of thoughtless camera-worship, and I freaking hate it."

Actually, this blog has recently featured posts related to thoughtFUL camera appreciation.

While the "Recommended Cameras" series was running, this blog included (among other things) posts on the following:

- Increasing local contrast in long-range pictures
- TWO posts making fun (in a gentle, loving kind of way) of those who obsess over the technical aspects of photography and gear
- A recommendation of, and excerpt from, "Looking at Photographs"
- Stephen Mallon's portfolio of Flight 1549 recovery pictures
- Hahnemühle's 425th birthday
- An update on the story of photographer Klavs Bo Christensen

I'd write more, but it is time for evening prayers and I need to head down to the Nikon shrine...


If you want to repair your LX... Eric at www.pentaxs.com maybe the best guy around.

A few months ago, he turned my LX into "as-good-as-new" ;-)

Why all this talk about having older cameras as "collectibles" ? I'm using mine, because I wanted a "full frame" camera with GREAT image quality at a reasonable price.

You can get an LX with 50/1.2 for under $1000 ! And if you wanted to go digital, it would cost you more than $5000. I normally shoot with my "crop" digital body, but I always have my LX with me... and my lenses work on both ;-)

Never had respect for the Yashica 2 1/4, i used to work in an art college photo dept. We would give photo majors a kit with a Yashica 124 in it. They took a lot of beating and one day my camera repair person called for me to come over. One of the Yashicas he was doing a deep repair on (older model not a 124) he had found some printed color graphics on the inside, seemed to be from a Japanese beer can, when they were still steel, ah recycling. Used several of these and was never very impressed, my camera of choice for the time was a Rollei wide (55 Zeiss Distagon on a TLR Rollei) really rare wonderful camera.


Back in the '70s, when I first got really interested, a lot of folk like me who didn't have much money bought a Zenit E.
Basic, and heavy though it is, for the sheer number of photographers who got started by this camera I think that it's a worthy contender. You can pick one up with the 58mm f/2 lens for about £10-15 without any trouble.
Actually, I started with my school's two Zenit 3Ms, then bought a 'B'.

I saw this list more as a suggestion for general categories of cameras to sample or collect -- each category seems to have its own "charms". there do seem to be a couple categories that haven't been mentioned, though.

polaroid packfilm rangefinder cameras. my polaroid automatic 100 still continues to amaze me in low-light situations when shooting 3000 speed film. Fuji still makes packfilm. due to instant tangible feedback, this camera has taught me more about photography than the many hours I've spent in front of a computer screen or in a darkroom.

also no mention of the kodak disc yet. (I can hear the moans already) I wonder if someone could machine out a film holder and load it with ortho film. wouldn't that be a hoot.

no mention of minox or other subminiatures.

pinhole camera of some sort seems like it should be in here too.

I don't 'collect' in any practical sense of the word, but I have been known to acquire.

I'll second the mention of the Yashica being a little more expensive as an intro TLR and suggest one also look at the Minolta Autocords for an entree to TLRdom. Dante Stella speaks very highly of them. I myself inherited a Ricohflex from my mother so I don't have that particular itch to scratch.

I'm definitely of the school that if I buy it I should use it, so for me the Kodak Tourist mentioned above is less attractive (I think there was only one good lens made for it in a good shutter, and I don't think I've ever seen it come up on ebaY.) For my taste, if I'm going to use a camera where acquiring film is a hassle, I'd go with a Kodak Medalist II. Good ones regularly go for ~$150.

This post has encouraged me to go look for a nice Spotmatic w/ SMC Takumar 50/1.4. They're thick on the ground, so I know I'll get a good one at a good price. I may then get Carl Zeiss Jena lenses like the sweet 135/3.5. I used to have one and it was very nice indeed.

And what got me started on film again was a recent purchase of a Voigtlaner (Cosina) Bessa-T rangefinder. I found a bargain 35mm Summaron 35/3.5 and I plan on shooting B&W exclusively with it. Before deciding which lens to go with, I scoured Flikr because I wanted a lens with 'old-style' rendition. Perfection (i.e. modern) is so predictable.

To quote Crash Davis, "Relax! Let's have some fun out here! This game's fun, OK? Fun goddamnit."


I am not sure we shall promote collecting useable camera. One shall not buy a M3 in a box and X-ray it and let it have a film every year. If we have to collect, we shall collect for a purpose.

Please do not misunderstand me, collection has its place in any human endeavor. But similar to your proposal to get some good photography book you can still buy (or borrow in library), I think one shall use a usable camera and not just collect them.

For me I think one can try to collect the experience of using different camera process to understand what people do in the past and in their arts (even currently). May be try to take some good picture (and bad one) along the way.

In this sense whilst I am not a collector, I am a collector of experience using different type of camera and its process. You cannot understand some part of the photography unless you know what it meant by negative density/carry 8x10 camera/tray development black and white etc. If you have never see a medium format ground glass, it would hard to feel the control and immediate response of such a good "finder". If you have not scale focus and street photography using a rangefinder (with the finder on the hose), you may not understand how difficult and how fulfiling the experience of trying to catch the decisive moment. I may not be an Artist but I can at least try to appreciate more other Artists and be a better audience/viewer or even a critic. Whilst you can learn a lot from Ansel book, you learn much more if you tray development of your black and white 8x10.

So far I have tried

- lomo
- pinhole
- Folder
- rangefinder
- Medium format SLR,
- Large fomat
- low end digital:
- middle range digital:

I would like to hear more of what you and others said about these experience and their significance (or not) to the photo being made, in history or even currently. May be we do not need to know the brand name of Van Gogh paint but it may know a bit more if you know how to paint a bit. May not get the eye, the skill, ... etc. But at least you got the experience of history in your hand. Together with some good books, enjoy more.

Just trying making sense of why buying so many different type of camera these days. Of course, you do not really need to understand the process and can still appreciate a picture. Some picture is about content/message and some about feeling and how it relates to you. But understand some of the process behind can add just one more dimension to the appreciation I think.


Have you checked prices for Minolta Autocords? They aren't cheap. I don't know whether this is due to limited supply or because everyone had read Dante Stella's recommendation, but I am always amazed at what Autocords go for, and I regularly check their prices.

Without wanting to beat a dead horse, I think people are underestimating the decided advantage of the Yashicamat's ergonomics. I've used other TLRs, but the light weight, bright screen, built-in lightmeter and crank operation all keep me coming back to my 'Mat. And with the lens stopped down, it acquits itself very nicely.

As for Tom's recommendation of a Rollei wide...well, that's comparing apples and grapefruit. Assuming you can find one, please report back here on what it costs.

As for the Carl Zeiss Jena 135/3.5, I heartily agree. I used one for a while via an adapter on digital and thought the bokeh was just lovely. Plus, it just felt and operated so differently from all of my other lenses, including all of my old manual focus lenses. I still kick myself for not buying it when I had the chance...


Hmmm. An old Kodak, check. A TLR, ditto. An AE-1 (and two A-1s), yes. Old Poloroid, got one as well. Screw mount? Yup.

Sure, all of us might decry a favorite not on the list, but it is an excellent starting point for all of use who end up as collectors without really trying.

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