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Tuesday, 16 December 2014

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I can think of cameras I wish I didn't buy, but not the other way around.

It wasn't a camera, it was a 1907 Martin guitar.

A 120mm Goerz Dagor for my 5x7. In a misguided moment, I traded that Dagor off for another lens that I don't even remember at this late date. I do recall Ferrante-Dege from even earlier times.

Wow! I pretty much have an answer for everything. But this has me scratching my head.

Not that I haven't had seemingly endless camera desires over the decades, but time has outdated them or occasionally eliminated through eventual acquisition.

Had I been able to afford a Rolleiflex 2.8 when I bought a used 'cord, ever so long ago, I'd now have a valuable classic, instead of a less than valuable semi-classic.

I've got plenty of examples of the opposite. \;~)>

Olympus OM-1 with OM Zuiko Auto-S 50 mm 1:1.4 lens. Got a Minolta XG-2 instead because it had auto-exposure for the same price which I considered important back then—silly me. Always had Minolta cameras and lenses ever since, later Konica-Minolta, then Sony, never an Olympus.

Earlier this year I finally bought an Olympus OM-D E-M1. It was like coming home after 35 years.

Easy, brand new Speed Graphic at Toronto Camera way back when. Those days did not even have money for a car let alone a very special camera. Did get one eventually selling it for a Horseman field camera with an 8x10 back, lenses and backs for 5x7 and 4x5. Sure learned fast how to use swings and tilts. Lesrned a lot with beast.

And in a more or less complete circle have as of December 15/14 have sold all my photographic gear.
My recent Fujifilms X-T1 and related lenses and all my Nikon gear of forty years or more including all digitl and film cameras.

Ar some point one has to decide is it the hardware or the use of same
that results in something that is enjoyment? If not, cut your losses! I did. Until I can ENJOY possible results, then best not participate!

For me, it was a Fuji GSW690III. This was the 6x9 wide angle version of the Fuji medium format rangefinder camera with a 28mm equivalent 65mm lens. My camera store had this and the GS690III, a 40mm equivalent 90mm lens both on consignment from a single buyer. This I believe was in the mid-nineties and they were about half the price of a new one. Since I couldn't afford both I chose the 90mm version and took thousands of mostly color negative pictures with this fantastic camera. I may have made the better choice, but I regret that one that got away.

A complete and clean set of a Rolleiflex 3.5F with all kinds of accessories housed in a medium size leather suitcase in the style of old travel (think coffin-like), issued for the national police force. It sold on the local ebay-variant at a price equivalent to roughly 1000USD which felt like a great bargain considering the whole package.

Pentax LX. In film days, I bought and sold a succession of Pentax K-mount bodies, sort of liked them, sort of didn't, but never bought the LX because of cost. However, I blew more cash on the trading of other bodies that what an LX would have cost me.

God, I wish I owned that one...I still haven't found someone reliable in the U.S. to fix my bellows on my 8X10 Deardorff...anyone know of anyone RELIABLE, let me know...

Maybe I should order a supply from that joint in G.B. and start doing them myself?

The camera I was about to buy but didn't, and wish I did? That's a no-brainer: some months ago I was at the shop I deliver my rolls to be developed and the man (who, incidentally, has been successfully championing analogue photography at my hometown for years) had a Rolleiflex 3,5F for sale. My brain nearly melted when I saw it. It had a small, square lens hood that made the camera simply irresistible.
The 3,5 may be less coveted than the 2,8, but it has some advantages against its marginally faster sister: it's smaller, which makes it easier to handle and carry, and to my eyes it is more attractive. Besides, a difference of 2/3 EV's is irrelevant in practical terms and, as far as I'm concerned, Schneider Kreuznach must know a thing or two about making lenses. After all, they had been making large format lenses since the dawn of times, so what could possibly go wrong?
Why didn't I buy it? For one thing, because I didn't really need it. It was an entirely rational decision. At that time I wasn't so sure I'd enjoy myself using a hand-held light meter everytime I went out shooting with a photometer-less camera. And I didn't feel ready for medium format; somehow it intimidated me. If I'd bought it and the pictures were below par, I'd never have forgiven myself.
Now that I know about Sunny 16 and how to expose properly, I regret not having bought the Rolleiflex. It was the most beautiful camera I'd ever laid my eyes on. (Thanks in part to that incredibly cute lens hood.) I should have bought it!

Back in the 1970s when I was an MFA student at Rochester Institute of Technology, there was a camera store nearby that had two brand new Leica KE7a bodies for sale at $700 each. They were olive drab versions of the M4. I thought long and hard about buying one, but didn't. Now I wish that I had.

A beautiful Leica M4 I played with at Glazer's in Seattle while there on a trip.

Dang, I wish I had bought that.

Most recently... :-)... a Cobalt blue 2008 Mustang GT with only 24,000 miles on her...wow!

I had a crush on one of the women who worked at Ferrante and Dege. She's one of the ones that got away. She was very hip.

I did have a Deardorff 5x7. It weighed a ton. I never regretted selling it, only that it didn't live up to my expectations...

During the early 80's I worked at a mid sized mom and pop style camera store. We took a mint Canon Pellix QL with FL 50mm f1.2 in trade toward a then brand new EOS 650. I adore these cameras for their lack of vibration along with the ability to still see through the viewfinder during the exposure. Consequently, I wound up in a bidding war with the store owner over this one. Needless to say his deeper pockets won out. A couple of years later I did wind up buying a different Pellix but it is not as clean and only came with the 1.4 lens. Not that amazing 1.2.

Sigma DP2 Merrill, to use as a slow, deliberate digital alternative alongside my medium format film Mamiya C220...

I wish I had bought the om3 rather than the om4 back along. The manual exposure would have been much more convenient for me than the auto exposure.

Mamiya 6 with all three lenses. The original, not the MF version. I would still like to own one. I wish Mamiya would make a digital version of the 6 with a 6x6 sensor although I couldn't afford it anymore than I could afford the film one.

There are things that, in hindsight, I wish I'd done differently, certainly gear-wise in addition to technique and how I went about learning. I would have bought this instead of that, for instance. But nothing I've passed on that I regretted. Like Charles said, I've bought things that I shouldn't have. One of those life lessons I figured out by mistakes made in my 20's & 30's, buying things that I thought I'd need; now I tend to wait until I need it, because I usually never do (need it).

o1af, I alluded to wishing I'd bought one camera instead of another; when I moved from manual focus to AF, I chose Minolta - like you, I was swayed by a camera body that offered more "bang for the buck". That led to a 20-year dalliance with A mount that ended 3 years ago when I moved to Nikon. In hindsight, I wish I'd chosen Nikon or Canon from the start.

I wish I'd bought a Konica Hexar in about 1999. I would have enjoyed it. I don't shoot 35mm any more. I have the Rolleiflex 3.5 e2 that my dad got for Christmas when he was 15. And that's my last film camera. I should get it serviced before I can't.

Aye, a desire to walk in others' footsteps, if only for a little while, has partially prompted several camera purchases in years long past. My first Leica, my Rolleiflexes, and my Ricoh GR (all film) can be traced in some part to such impulses. All are still with me, albeit quite idle.

In 1977 or so olden camera bought out the stock of Alpa.
I bought a brand new Alpa 11 with a macro switar for about $300. It was green and gold, looked better than it sounds , a very dark green leather, and a light matt gold color that wasn't gold at all but some sort of high tech skier hard finish. Kept it for two days and returned it.

The same year I traded a Maserati convertible for a VW dasher, so it's not the stupidest thing I did that year.

Mike,
I think I can more easily tell you of the camera that I bought and felt very sorry for that. OK, for sake of decency I shall not tell you of that, here in public. In our country (India) it is not all that easy to buy just any camera that appears in the advertisements. Most big companies would have just one or two models in the market and some smaller companies do not even have a market presence. Till recently we had to get cameras in "gray market". It is not often one comes across a great camera and miss buying that. We can only salivate on some great models when we read about them. In other words I never came across a camera "face to face" and now feel sorry for not buying it.
In a way it is good, keeps me happy. It keeps my hardware to bare minimum.
Ranjit Grover

For me, its the one I didn't keep, not the one I didn't get. It was an Exakta 66. It generated great, razor sharp negaives, but the film wind kept breaking, and I couldn't affort repeated repairs. So, I traded it in for a 4x5 speed graphic. Didn't keep that one either.

In 1989, when I was about to depart for Japan for a three year military tour, there was a brassed out black Leica M4 with a matching Summicron in the display case at Chuck Rubin Photographics in Louisville. I bought a black Nikkormat EL body instead. It fit the lenses I owned, but it turned balky in humid Tokyo. Many of the cameras I have bought since then are variations on that M4 I passed by.

I can't think of one that I didn't buy that nags at me, but I can think of one that I owned and still regret selling: a Zeiss-Ikon Super Ikonta C, a 6x9 rangefinder in great condition and with a wonderful lens. I picked it up for a song, as I recall (I think less than $75!), and in addition to shooting nicely it also looked awesome on my self.

I put about five rolls of film through it, but because I didn't have a way (then) to print 6x9 in my darkroom, I didn't give it much use. Now, though, I think back regularly wishing I hadn't parted with it. Those 6x9s would be a lot of fun, and it would be easy enough to scan the negs (or transparencies) and play around with them that way.

To make matters worse, I didn't really realize the value of the camera—in part because I got such a good deal on it—and I sold it for far below market value!

In the late 80s, I had a chance to acquire a mint condition Minolta CLE with the 28mm, 40mm, and 90mm M-Rokkor lenses. I couldn't afford the entire set and the seller wouldn't break it up. Someone got a fantastic camera and lenses!

(Further to my earlier comment...) And to answer the question you actually ASKED, Mike (sorry), no, I think I've actually had the chance to get every camera I ever really yearned for. The only exception might be a 4x5 field camera but I really have no appetite to shoot large film any more.

Not a camera but a lens. The Pentax 31mm limited back when it was priced lower. Instead I bought a gently used Leica M6 which I wish I had not. I'm left eyed and we don't get along... I still have the M6, hint ;-)

Mine's the opposite problem. Which ones I should NOT have bought! I cannot think of a camera I passed on that later on I truly wanted. I had a good run financially for a few years as film cameras were dropping in price and grabbed some terrific bargains on some top notch Hasselblad, Rolleiflex, Contax and Leica gear. Now I'm starting to sell some off and see that most of it the prices have increased nicely as the highest quality photo gear seems to be having some resurgence of interest. At the very least I'm selling some for what I paid. Not a bad "rental" for a few years of use, eh? I regretted for a little bit, about 8 years ago, grabbing a used but EX+ black paint Leica MP 0.85 body from Tamarkin in NY for about $1800 USD but since Leica soon after discontinued the 0.85 viewfinder except for under the a la carte program it's been going for close to twice that used lately it seems. I guess I cringe when I think too much about what I spent for a fully-loaded (accessory-wise) Rolleiwide in EX shape but it's proving to be my all time favorite camera ever and I simply love my images created with it so I'll get over it I guess...

It has to be the black paint Leica M2 I bought in 1973. It was in beautiful shape with a matching Leicavit. Brought it back to the store to have the range finder adjusted. While at the Leica repair facility they checked the serial number and the camera had been reported stolen. I agreed to return the camera to the rightful owner and the store gave me a chrome M3 instead. I was happy with that camera for a while but traded it in a few years later. I wish I had held out for another black paint M2, they were just so nice. Back then there was a lot less hype around the Leica brand. Most photographers using them then were just into the range finder shooting experience.

I went into Ferrante-Dege when I moved to Cambridge in the late 90s (my early 20s), my interest in photography piqued by this new digital thing. I had a Casio QV10 I'd taken to Europe earlier — it took poor but delightful to me images, and I was looking for something where I could better control what was going on.

Whoo boy was I patronized, with heaps of dismissal and a side of disdain. Ended up buying a Coolpix 950 online somewhere. Now, 15 years later, I'm still into photography... and they're not.

The side-trip into Olympus (two OM-4Ts in 1987) turns out to have been a waste of time and money. I got mad at Nikon still not having spot metering, and didn't see auto-focus becoming important and Olympus missing out on it. I still had half my old Nikon gear in 1994 when I switched back, so that wasn't as expensive as it could have been.

I have mixed feelings about not replacing the M3 (got into Nikon for the first time instead, with an FM).

Maybe my big regret is not getting an 85mm lens with the initial Nikon instead of the 105mm. I somehow didn't know that the 85mm even existed (I had the 90mm Summicron and knew what a good length that was for me; the 105mm was just too long, and too slow).

My initial SLR, a Miranda Sensorex, was wrong, should have gone straight into Nikon. Then I'd be shooting the same system straight through to today (still possibly with a joint tenancy with Leica for a while; rangefinder focus in dim light was a big win in the 70s).

There's one lens I wish I would have bought, does that count? It was a Canon FD 50/1.8

Once, a few years after Canon made the FD mount obsolete with EF, I'd inherited a Canon AE-1 Program, and a cheap sloooow do-everything zoom. (28-300 f/3.8-6, with "macro"!) I was very proud of it, and after I finished my intro level photography course, I used it all the time. I wanted to take some photos at the college theater, so, armed with my newfound knowledge and arrogance, I marched into a local photography store looking for "fast" film.

The fellow working the counter, bless his soul, listened to my uncertain request for "1600 speed color film", and very politely pointed out the glass case of 50mm lenses, and mentioned that I could get a used one for very cheap, only $50. Being unable to take a hint, I bought my film (for probably 1/5 of the price of the lens) and scuttled out of there, congratulating myself on my frugality.

I was just a nervous, self-important kid, completely intimidated by the vast array of shiny, impossibly expensive things, and by the even vaster array of things I didn't know or understand about photography. It was a long time before I really got an intuitive grip on photography, and the film era was already dying before I really figured out camera technology.

But I still think of the things I could have done with that extra two stops of light, with a small lens, and a fixed field of view. That's what got away: several years of learning from my tools, because I was too embarrassed, too cheap, and too proud to listen.

I've gotten better, I'd like to think.


p.s. Mike, you probably guessed the punchline: I shot the film at 3200 and had it push processed.

A Fuji E900 digital compact.

Much less showy than others mentioned thus far, but it was a camera truly ahead of its time; in many respects it was peerless in the digital market until the introduction of the Sony RX100 over half a decade later. Also, it was cute as a button.

Funny story, though: the Pentax MX was one for years until I found one in good condition, bought it, used it for a couple months, then went back to my old workhorse of a Pentax P50, which from then on was with me for as long as film did.


I wish I had bought good glass to begin with. The old phrase, you date cameras but marry lenses is so true. I've been saddled with a system I'm not so fond of anymore because I have money in lenses.

I was trying to save money/weight with kit-level zooms. And, while the weight savings were helpful, it leaves a lot of nothing when it comes time to upgrade.

OTOH, building from scratch and switching systems is easy.

It has to be the black Nikon SP that I traded for an M2 and a couple of lenses sometime around 1977. It went with the 35 and 85 Nikkors, and while I was happy at the time, and it was a fairly even trade, as I recall, I still miss that SP. Did I say it had the motor?...Sigh.

It was an Olympus OM4-Ti that I had the chance to play with at a camera store in 1998. It was love at first sight, and I wanted to throw my brand new Canon EOS 50E out the window. The build quality and small size made it an object of desire, but what wowed me immediately was the huge viewfinder. How can a camera that small give such a big and bright view? To this day, the memory of that viewfinder tops everything I have used since.

On a long ago afternoon ago I noticed a new Rollei twin lens reflex camera glittering high up on a shelf in a Santa Monica store. When a salesman climbed up a ladder to retrieve it, I discovered that it had no back, but it did have a little white sticker that read, “No back, $200”. From the free camera newspaper available in the store I got the phone number of a Rolleiflex collector and seller. I called him that day to ask if he could sell me a Rollei back for that model or if he knew where I could buy one. He slowly answered, “No,” and then too quickly asked asked my why I needed the camera back.

I was young and slow at the time I so I told him what I’d seen in the camera store, but finally coming to my senses, not which store. Two days later the Rolleiflex was gone. A salesman told me that some old guy had called up the day before asking if they had a Rollieflex without a back.

The only consolation I have today is that all this happened at the beginning of the 70’s and that old guy is almost certainly just as dead now, as I imagined him in the weeks following that tragic phone call. I was comforted, while the rest of Southern California was badly shaken that winter by a 6.6 earthquake. Every night for months afterwards I rocked myself to sleep with a vision of him buried in a twin lens avalanche, just another casualty of the Sylmar earthquake. To this day I think bad thoughts when ever I meet a camera collector.

I almost bought into Nikon with the D800, but chose to stick with Canon instead. I was never really in love with the image quality from the 5D3, despite it being a lovely camera in pretty much every way. We just didn't get along that well in B&W conversion/post production.

As a result of this decision I stuck it out with Canon for a couple of years before floating through various systems and finally landing on Fuji. I was never willing to drop the kind of money I did on the 5D3 again, so I didn't switch to Nikon. I'm really happy with Fuji. I just suspect if I went with the D800 to begin with I'd still be using it and would have avoided all the jockeying around between then and now.

I find usability is important with camera systems... you have to be able to get down with the controls. But at the end of the day image quality is king. Not necessarily the BEST image quality from an objective perspective - you simply have to like the files you get out of a camera, or what's the point?

Steven, why would the OM-3 manual exposure have been better than the OM-4 manual exposure? I never had a -3, so maybe I don't understand some difference, but the OM-4 had manual exposure that worked just fine, and just like every other camera of the period (the metering system was of course well in advance of other cameras of the period for both of those).

I seem to remember the OM-3 had manual shutter-speed regulation -- which means it didn't need batteries to work (just to meter), but that the shutter speeds weren't as accurate.

The OM-4 (and a friend in Southboro I think it was) taught me to take night shots, which I still profit from, but basically the multi-spot metering turned out not to help me as much as I had hoped it would when I read about it, and the Olympus detour was a waste of time for me.

For me, it wasn't a camera or other gear, but two beautiful prints that got away. It was 1979, I was living in LA 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!

A Voigtlander Prominent with Nokton for $50. I didn't have the money but I played intermediate so a friend got it. Insanely beautiful camera.

A Deardorff?
Jeez. I would have imagined the crate of 30 Leicas would have been the one that got away...

Regarding "Romania, 1968":

That's always been my favorite Koudelka images. Actually, one of my favorite images of any photographer.

I had the pleasure of seeing it in this past year's Koudelka show at the Chicago Art Institute. It was like having an intimate moment with a lover. Sometimes just experiencing the art, even if only for a few minutes, is sufficient.

The cameras that I almost bought were many, but I'm happy I didn't do it. I have so many already sitting in my home without any use that every time I think about It I get a sad feeling. My most beloved one is a 1964 chrome Leica M4 that my father bought new in Germany that same year and he gave it to me in 1976. I still think my best photographs were made with that camera, it gives such a special pleasure to hold it and shoot it that I cannot explain with words. That Leica and a couple of Olympus OM4 T, one black and the other champagne are to close to my heart to ever get rid of them. I don't feel any attachment to any of my digital cameras though, they come and go as any mass consumer product.

Well I had it and really miss them...I had a couple of Leica M2's with the rewinds and film advance mods with four beautiful lens 35mm 1.4, 50mm dualie, 90mm, 2.8 and 20mm with finder....used them a lot in the early 70's in my job a a newspaper photographer....shot a lot of sports later and used my Nikons and the 180 2.8 as my favorite....so the.Leica's were on a shelve most of the time, but had shutters replaced and kept them up.....A friend of mine had a new camera store and wanted to display them in his show case.... a couple of months later they were stolen with alot of his other stuff when thieves when through the wall of the next door shop...and his insurance had just expired! his business and my cameras were done for. sure do miss them but my Fuji X100s it rekindling the memories.

Uh oh ... speaking of prints. There once was a nice vintage print for sale on eBay—kids jumping into the water of a lake, from a lesser-known photographer named Mike Johnston, priced in the low hundreds IIRC. I pondered over it a couple of days, then passed, then regretted it ever after.

Bryce Lee, I salute you!

I have too much photo stuff, two different digital systems, and I don't make a living taking pictures anymore, just manage the process. I own stuff like an 8X10 Deardorff because I know I can take great pictures with it, and did 30 years ago, and when I didn't own it, it made me made mad every time I saw some hipster-doofus from Austin or Portland with their marginal 8X10 portraits getting written up in the photo press.

I'm 60 and I have to give it up. I don't even like the digital process. The hardest thing is to learn how to travel 'light'. I could spend the rest of my life with just an old Rollei now, I have to get myself to do it...

In 1986 I seriously considered getting rid of my Olympus OM-1 and various lenses, and replacing that system with a chrome Leica M-2 with chrome 50mm f/2 Summicron and 90mm f/2 Summicron. The $1200 was a relative bargain but tough for me to swallow in those days (struggling university student), even with trade ins. The store I usually bought my equipment at had a healthy stock of older Leica M bodies in those days. A swarm of Japanese tourists with lots of money and a desire for high-quality photo gear came to town in the summer of 1986 and bought most of those Leicas, including the M-2, and 50mm and 90mm Summicrons. I decided to concentrate on gradually building a small system based around a Mamiya C330f, which I still have, and still occasionally use.

David Dyer-Bennet,

I loved my Miranda Sensorex, loved it so much I rebought another one a few years ago for nothing off of eBay, and had the people at Essex repair fix it up, and yep, it really was far smoother, had less vibration, and was quieter than almost any 'pro' level 35mm I owned when I was a professional (and their 'bottom weighted' on the mirror metering was practically infallible, even on an overcast day it wasn't fooled by the sky!). And the body was just thin enough that you could adapt a lot of lenses to it, like the M4/3rd's lens mania today.

I read someplace in the distant past that Miranda really felt they were in competition with Leica and tried to make the best stuff they could. When you read of the horrible American management that drove the company into receivership, it makes me wonder what they could have done if the original owners had been able to keep it and keep developing the cameras (I believe I read that the terrible management outcome of this event caused the hiatus on any foreigners being able to purchase any Japanese company!). All the system needed was a more comprehensive lens line, and modern feature upgrades to the bodies.

Buying a Miranda Sensorex at the time I did, wasn't the 'wrong' decision, it was wrong only in that a person couldn't guess what was going to happen in the near future to what was up until that time, a very innovative company!

There was one digital camera that I looked at but didn’t get, a Nikon Coolpix 8400. It would have been my first Nikon camera. I got something smaller and lighter, but not a Nikon.

I wouldn’t mind having this camera, or one of it’s competitors, today. I wouldn’t use it much, but it would be fun to have around.

The camera has a big 2/3" Sony sensor with 8MP, shoots in RAW, and has a 24-85 zoom range. The Olympus C8080WZ has the same sensor with a 28-140 range. There were two Dimage cameras from (Konica) Minolta with this sensor, the A2 and A200, both with 28-200 range and Image Stabilization.

All of these cameras shoot RAW, but top out at ISO 400. They are around 10 years old. For many years afterwards, the camera industry turned away from largish sensor, all in one cameras with full manual controls.

Almost any classic motorcycle advertised in the 70s

Tom, having brought Miranda in, I should say a bit more. The Sensorex was a good camera in many ways, and I agree with you that the bottom-weighted metering was quite useful (a bit less useful for verticals, and the front-located shutter release otherwise made verticals easier to do well; but knowing how the metering works and compensating when it's going to work wrong is a good lesson to learn in general). Also the interchangeable viewfinders; I never actually had anything but the pentaprism, but you could look down into the body without the pentaprism for a crude waistlevel view. It served me well for three or four years.

I bought mine at the very end of 1969, with their 50/1.4 lens (which also served me well). All the other lenses I put on it were Soligor, though (200/3.5, and then a 28/??; never did get to like 28mm lenses).

Trouble was, they were a small player. It's not quite that there was anything I needed (or wanted badly) and couldn't get. But around 1973 I traded it for a Pentax system with a lot of lenses.

I've always felt I would have been better served by starting with Pentax or Nikon.

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