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Sunday, 08 September 2019


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OCD story...

I worked for a short while at the service counter of a camera store. One day a guy came to the counter—he had bought a Nikon kit a couple of days back along with a "protective filter" to put on the lens.

Y'see, he realized that Nikon also made those protective filters, but the one he had been sold was a Hoya. So he wanted to return the Hoya and get an equivalent Nikon instead—which was slightly more expensive—because, well, it felt "right" for him that the filter match the rest of the kit.

I think your 'PS' sums up who the post is 'for', because it only really can apply to you.
Everyone else is a little or a lot different. As you point out the gamut runs from 'collectors' who enjoy having but not using all the way to folks who treat objects as consumables.
Weather Cameras, cars, or other stuff, I would classify myself as an appreciator of fine things, but still a user of them. I take good care of them, but I use them, -usually for a longer than average period of time.
But neither do I think that there is anything 'right' or 'better' about what I do. It is just what I do, and is right for no one but me.

1962 Jaguar E-Type Low-Drag Coupé Recreation by Lynx https://rmsothebys.com/en/auctions/LF14/London/lots/r193-1962-jaguar-e-type-low-drag-coup%C3%A9-recreation-by-lynx/181234 Lynx builds cars to be raced at historic events.

Jay Leno restores cars to Concourse winning condition. He then drives them until they are 90 point cars—than they are restored again.

Per Miriam-Webster: ...the etymology of persnickety doesn't provide the kind of clean, clear explanation that appeals to the fastidious. Persnickety was first documented in English in the late 19th century as an alteration of pernickety, a word that has the same meaning. Pernickety goes back to the early 1800s.

As I mentioned the other-day, cameras are tools, not fetishes. The only camera that has died on me is a Canon 20D, which I purchases new. My 2007 40D is still alive—so I'm still using it. BTW I continue to use a Craftsman claw-hammer, that I bought in the 1970s.

I've recently learned of Titanium Nitride (TiN) and Titanium Carbo-Nitride (TICN). TiN is gold and TiCN is black. If I coated a Leica M with either, they would never brass ;-) I'm now researching several non-photographic projects. A favorite adage: All photography, and no play makes me a dull boy 8-)

“Use it Up!”.... a mantra to recite, until the latest model comes out....and the cycle begins again. The existing camera didn't suddenly stop working, yet the constant barrage of in your face news about the latest greatest camera works its way into your subconscious desire for new gear that might be better at _______ (fill in the blank).
That first ding - that is so true for me. That said, cameras are much more durable than they might appear to be....in most cases. All of my cameras are in surprisingly good condition afters years of regular use. The slight wear on my Fujis are more from Fujifilm’s decision to paint the bodies ala Leica, thereby getting a patina of use. Each wear spot contains some of the Camera’s history.

I'm sure you will get more than a few wondering how you managed a blog back in 1972, 😊 but to the main point:

I think there is a useful difference between 'collecting' and 'acquiring'. Most of us would refer to our 'collection' of lenses or cameras for example, but we are really for the most part, acquirers of cameras and lenses. A collector buys the objects with a view to simply having them all in one accessible place, the same way a museum does, but only to be viewed and not used. For my part, I do my best to avoid buying lenses, cameras, or really anything, if I can't make use of them. That's why I have sometimes bought expensive, highly spec'd 'super' lenses, only to sell them later on, when I realized I was never really going to use of them (too heavy or whatever), even if I didn't need the cash.

I find there is a lot of pleasure in using something up, especially when it seems to resist being used up, and just keeps going and going. This is even more so, if I didn't pay big bucks for it to begin with. It even feels somewhat like a morally superior position compared to those collector types – although don't ask me to defend that! So yes, I'm fine with my possessions getting a few dings and scratches along the way. Shows me that my stuff is justifying its place in my life.

I remember my ex wife getting quite upset when we bought the first new car. I had told her I was bringing a ball peen hammer with me to the dealership. She asked why and my reply wa# I want the first dent,damm it.

Yep! Many of us devoted amateur photographers love putting together a 'just so' system of cameras and lenses. All that gear is fun to play with, and looks great sitting in the bag. There are lots of lovingly lit 'camera porn' shots of cameras and lenses at the Strobist flickr pages. I'm as guilty as anyone else; I love playing with Fuji's silver X-T3 and 50 mm f:2 mostly because it's such a pretty and mechanically delightful kit.
But photography ought to be about photographs more than gear. I do mostly landscape photography, and a bit of macro and wildlife. This kind of work can be tough on equipment because you're outside with the rain, mud, frost, and bugs. If you're digging mud out of the crevices of your camera after a photo trip, you're doing it right. I still have some mud in the nooks 'n crannies of my Eos-5D mk IV from a minor face-plant in a slippery stream bed back in the summer of 2018. A worthy dueling scar.

I attended a landscape/nature photography workshop in Michigan around 2005 with Rod & Marlene Planck (wonderful naturalists and photographers and all around great people, they're still teaching). Most of the participants had high-end or prosumer digital SLR's and lenses. The second day out we were photographing peak fall color in perfect conditions; dead-calm, just enough fog for atmospheric perspective, saturated color from all the wet leaves. Then it started to drizzle, progressing to a light rain. Many of the participants started to return their gear to their camera bags. "Keep shooting! A little rain isn't going to hurt your gear!" said Rod. And he was right. Wind-driven salt spray or pounding downpours are a different matter, but most D-SLR's and higher end lenses tolerate worse conditions than photographers do. Trash bags are your friend. I have yet to break a camera; my original Eos-1Ds from 2002 still works fine. It's so slow and clumsy by modern standards it feels like someone filled it with molasses.
Which is precisely why you should use digital cameras intensely, to get as much value out of them as possible while they still feel current.

Mike, this ramble reminds me of when I was young and bought my first real new car. A pickup truck. As brand new, not a scratch on it of course.

And then came the day when I needed to use the truck bed for the first time and it's pristine paint sparkled at me as I pondered how to load it up without damaging the paint.

And then I did the inevitable. I just loaded the thing up and scratched the heck out of it.

And I never worried about it again for the next 20 years and 200,000 + miles either.

By then, the interior had decomposed and the exterior paint was peeling from the weather and wind. And I sold it for $1500 and... started again with a new truck :)

I treat my cameras the same way!

Mañana is good enough for me. I moved to Mexico 24 years ago and have a Bronzed film Nikon. I use a Sony mirrorless digital and I "use "it.
I have a piece of parachute cord for a neck strap. I have brought three new cars and they are not so new for very long. I gave up Perfect and work with Excellence. That means it is the best is what I can do given the circumstances. Striving for perfection makes to start drinking !!!

1. I saw a sign today (in Bozeman, Montana) that said "The first rule of OCD is to invent a second rule of OCD so you have an even number of rules of OCD."

I had a camera on my shoulder all day Friday on the Yellowstone River (a Panny GX8 with a 12-35 zoom on it) and sort of forgot it was there and smacked the lens into truck frame when I was getting into a truck. It now has a barely discernible ding on it, but it seems to function okay. 8-)

I have all the objects of affection you mention.

I drive a 13 year old Carrera with almost 100k miles, used it to commute to work in New York City when I still did that kind of thing. It’s far from perfect, but still gets compliments. And I still get pleasure driving it.

Just got my E-M1 mark II back from Olympus after having some external items fixed: eyecup rails broken, rubber cladding coming off. I don’t baby it, but rather I lovingly use it a lot. I’m annoyed these things needed repair, but only because of the expense and inconvenience, and not because it spoiled a wonderful camera.

Few of my guitars are perfect. I used to be obsessive about (most of) them, but in recent years I’m happy to have small grandchildren try their little hands at them. Under supervision, of course. Seeing their pleasure at trying grandpa’s treasures gives me more pleasure. And those little markers they leave will remind me their small hands were there, when they were small.

For me, owning things without actually using them as they were intended robs them of the value they have. So to have them is to use them.

Funny you should write about this …

Today I put two cameras, two tripods and a bag of lenses into the back of my fancy car -- the one I drive every day -- and took pictures of friends driving around in their fancy cars. The ones they don't drive every day.

The weather was great. We talked about cars. I got some pretty good pictures. Love driving that car. Love taking pictures. Today was a good day.

ever notice how a '48 Buick straight 8 tried to copy the lines of a '48 Jaguar XK?

My cameras do a lot of travel with me, sometimes in a backpack, sometimes on the floor of the car, and quickly develop lovely signs of use:

My old Pentax K-5IIs

My new Pentax KP

Sometimes I like to repurpose old antique brass lenses grafted onto a modern era digital camera body.

Here is one of my creations using a Nikon D850 camera and an old Bausch and Lomb lens from a 120 year old Kodak camera. I hope the link to my blog is okay.


The first scratch is the hardest...

Someone should write a song.

I have bought cameras and lenses (and cars) new, but I buy used when I can. A current car I have, a 6 year old Boxster, I bought last year with 24,000km on it and it was very clean. It now has over 40,000km on it, it's not as clean and at least for quite a few years more it's not going to get better, but it's an absolute joy to drive. I'm hoping it doesn't get any dings, but if it does, it will have earned them.

I have one old camera (pre-WWII) that I still use regularly, and one from the 50's. The one from the 50's seems to have led a hard life (not at my hands, but who knows whose?) and no body panel is even. However, the flange to film plane register seems to be correct, the rangefinder works and since it belonged to a departed very dear friend it is very important to me and is my most used film camera.

With respect to digital I'm like some of the other commenters; I use them for a while and if there is something a successor model has that I really think will make a difference, I'll sell the old and get the new. Digital camera old and brassed doesn't have the same aura as film camera old and brassed.

I have a couple of Leica M4's with a 35mm Summilux and 90mm Tele-Elmarit. I do tend to baby those cameras as I don't like to take them out on rainy days. I had them overalled and re-built. What is interesting about these cameras, is that they are not just any old Leica cameras but the very same ones that I used at the start of my newspaper career 40 plus years ago. At the time around 1977 or 78, the owner lent them to me for a couple of weeks. Recently I reconnected with the owner who still had them, he gifted me one and I bought the other. So pretty cool to have a couple of cameras in great condition that I first used all those years ago.

I have a Nikkor 200mm ƒ4 lens that I bought in 1977, its the only piece of equipment that I bought and used during my newspaper photography career. While taking pictures I once used it to deflect a flying discus thrown by a high school student during a track and field meet. It took a big ding on the filter ring but still works. It was so beat up I never thought it was worth selling or trading so I kept it.

I met a guy during a hike on the south island of New Zealand twenty years ago. I think we were discussing the durability and quality of outdoors gear, but his philosophy would apply to camera gear (or most any material piece of equipment, really). He said: "When something dies in the line of duty, I don't sweat it".
So true. Buy quality stuff, take (reasonably) good care of it, but don't cry when it inevitably gives up from having done its duty for a long time.


You said "If I owned that Jaguar Low Drag Coupe, much less built it, I probably wouldn't drive it either. How could you? You'd spoil your work of art."

Funny you should mention a low-drag E-type coupe. Living in Europe now (after 55years in the US) I've come to learn these folks take a different view of such things. Their view is more aligned with your thoughts on cameras. Use 'um. Enjoy 'um. If things to sideways and crunch, rebuild 'um.

Just don't hang them on your wall along with all your other supposedly priceless artworks.

A low-drag coupe shows up every year to contest the Tour Auto. Every year I take her photo. She's a glorious beastie and she's run in anger. Just like she should.

And then there's the case of the fabulous birdcage Maser that got balled up into a wad at Goodwood a few years back. Ouch. In my mind, better that than to be coddled and buffed on the lawns of some American golfcourse concourse somewhere.

You know, I just had an epiphany! I've owned a passel of cameras over the years. The only ones that have never broken down have been the digital ones. The mechanical Nikons and Leicas needed fairly frequent maintenance and adjustments to keep running but sometimes just plain quit functioning. The electronic model Canons I've owned were pretty reliable but I recall a couple that had parts break as a matter of normal use. Since using digital cameras, I cannot recall ever having a single camera cease to function or stop working, other than a battery needing to be replaced.

Very interesting reading, as usual, but I don’t like to refer to cameras and lenses as tools. I rather like the term instruments.

Here is one more camera story for you. I once owned a 1936 Leica III in pristine condition, if it were a car it might even be considered in "concours condition".

The beautiful old black-paint Leica came with a 50mm Summar lens. I wasn't able to determine too much of its history, only that a family member had inherited the camera and brought it into the camera store I frequented to sell it. I always wondered how an 80-year-old camera stayed in such perfect condition, did the owner only bring it out when the Queen was in town? maybe it was kept in a bank's safety deposit box? the leather case that went with the camera was in equally fine condition. Of interest, I found an original import card, with matching serial numbers, from Germany to the U.K. dated May of 1936.

I kept it for about 7 years and shot about 50 rolls of film and sold it to pay for another set of Leica cameras I had acquired. Although the 50mm Summar lens was quite good, it was un-coated and resulted in quite a lot of flaring, sometimes it was a desirable effect other times it got in the way of a good photo.

I like it when you ramble :)

A new car stops being new with the first ding.

My previous car, bought new, a 2007 VW Jetta, had less than 500 miles on it when some moron backed into me, when I was standing still putting air in the tires at a gas station.

My new car, a 2019 Subaru Impreza, had less than 200 miles on it when a small stone hit the car and put a ding in the windshield.

And my 5D4 is no longer new since I tropped on a cobblestone in Williamsburg (Brooklyn) and got the battery grip all scuffed up.

By the way, I rarely get my cars washed. When my wife complains about the how the car looks, I tell her that the dirt protects the finish, enhancing the resale value.

[Can't help commenting on that...actually leaving dirt on the car is surprisingly bad for the finish. Especially bird droppings...get those off the car ASAP. If you take care of it you can actually keep the finish looking good for a long time. --Mike]

A bit older Mazda Miata with a replacement 4 cylinder egine would be just the ticket. As long as the replacement was a 4 cylinder Offenhauser. No need for the 1000 HP version or even the 800hp version. I would be satisfied with the 395/400 HP versions. Might need to beef up the transmission and drive gearing up a bit...

I value my experiences more than I do my possessions. And possibly that Jag builder does too. He talked repeatedly and with amazement about the long and complex work of engineering the car.

In the 60s I had a Series 1 coupe, and the fun was driving it on the nearly empty roads of upstate NH and VT. I don’t think I’d have much fun with it now as either a show car or a weekend driver. In its day it was a sensation. Today it’s a lot less than that.

With technology, the rule is to use it up immediately. Don't buy it unless you have an immediate use for it. Technology depreciates so fast from the time it is first released to the public (although, not continuously depreciating but depreciating in jumps - i.e. 20% off, 40% off, etc.). There is no reason to baby a technological item (unless you have one of the first few serial numbers of something that is anticipated to become a collector's item - first iPhone, first personal computer, first iPad, first mass production digital camera, etc.).

It is CDO, of course, in alphabetical order.

The SD Card wouldn’t ‘stay’ in card slot #1, but kept bouncing out. I sent it to Fuji under warranty, expecting they would replace a spring. It came back in less than a week with the main circuit board replaced. It had fewer than 1,000 shots under its belt.

Coincidentally, Sunday’s LA Times ran an article on the current overload of small-production supercars for collectors. I passed it along to a friend of mine, an auto journalist who covers collector car auctions, and this was his response.

To: Rick Carey (Collector Car Auction reports - https://rickcarey.com )

Have we hit peak supercar?

Response from Rick:

I agree.

These are almost entirely showoff pieces that are impossible to drive in any highway situation, designed to make a statement of great wealthy to the social circle of people with more money than they know what to do with, and no taste or style.

Ralph Lauren doesn’t own these, neither does Lawrence Stroll (rich Canadian who owns a F1 team-JH). I like the Michael Fux (Cuban-American businessman-JH) observation: who would put a McLaren Senna in the hands of a valet parking attendant?

I see these things again and again changing hands after one or two or three years with low triple-digit odometers. They’re not automobiles, they’re social statements, and they have less utility than a $100 million house in Malibu. Sadly most people who would drive them (and probably kill themselves in them) can’t afford the maintenance.

I talked with one of the caretakers of the Ming Collection of low mileage Ferraris that RM sold at Monterey and asked him, “What’s he gonna do with the money?” The answer was telling: “Buy more cars”. It’s the buying, not even the ownership, that is the experience.

I have another comment but will do it separately!

I’m with you Michael! I like to use things I own - or I tend to divest them.

I’ve typically only owned one or two cameras and 3-4 lenses at one time, all of which I used regularly. That’s why I recently sold my PenF - I never used it; my iPhone fills my current needs.

With cars, I’ve owned more than a half-dozen at one time, but two were always Alfa racecars, a Jeep Grand Cherokee company lease/tow car, my daily driver Miata, and several Alfa “projects.” Whenever I got bored of a car, I’d sell it - most to my friends in the Alfa community - but I’d use my racecars 10-12 times a year. Gave them good exercise, I did.

One of my cars is still going strong - a 1962 Alfa Spider racer - I sold it to a guy I knew and it’s still being raced, 57 years old, 56 years a racecar!

In the car people I knew, few were collectors, most liked vintage racing their old cars - back to 30’s Bugattis, 50s Jaguars (two guys I knew had a Jaguar C-type and D-type respectively that they had owned since new!). But I also knew the guy who restored collectors cars, including Ralph Lauren’s. I came to the conclusion that collector cars were like trophy wives and flashy houses….

You needn't worry about that XH-1.
Trust me, it and several of the lenses, have had quite a few knocks, bumps and rain showers over the last year and seemed to have shrugged them all off with no issues.

First Mike, I love TOP and have been a follower for many years. I'm going to have to call you out on using the phrase "a bit OCD". You can't be a bit OCD, you either have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or you don't. It can be a very serious and debilitating condition and shouldn't be confused with someone being very tidy or particular about things. It's very upsetting to OCD sufferers when people trivialise their condition by using it in the way you have above. I'm sure you didn't realise this, I was guilty of the same thing until my wife was diagnosed with it.

For information: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd/#.XXka8vC2mUk

"Use it up, wear it out. Make it do or do without."
An admonition from my Depression/WWII era Mom.

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