Unlike some photographers who picked up a camera whilst still in nappies, I was more of a late bloomer.
I didn’t start shooting intentionally until around 2006 (aged 30ish), with a series of camera phones that led to a “proper” digital compact in 2011, followed by the explosion in summer 2012 that trumpeted my discovery of film photography.
Fast forward to a very recent conversation that got me thinking about the huge range of vintage cameras available to us today, and how, rather than enable us to photograph to our heart’s content, it’s instead crippled us with too much choice.
So I wondered how my photographic life might look rewound a generation.
Let’s assume for this little flight of fancy that I started photographing with intention 25 years previously, in 1981.
This was one of the most exciting times in photography. A few years after small SLRs like the Olympus OM and Pentax ME broke through, angular shiny black plastic with red trim was replacing gracefully brassing metal, intelligent electronics were becoming more and more prevalent, and the evolution of AutoFocus was gathering momentum.
As I did in 2006, I would assume that in 1981 I would have started out pretty simply, and been on a tight budget.
Plus I’d need a reasonable amount of cash to fund my blossoming Bowie and Bush vinyl collection as well as a stereo with record player and twin tape decks to make copies of the albums for my Walkman, so I was wired for sound like one of my mum’s heroes. Or one of her slightly more cool other heroes.
But I digress.
With this twin criteria of low complexity and low cost, the latest SLR of the day wouldn’t have been a contender.
So maybe I’d have started with a couple of year old compact like one of the Konica or Minolta early AF efforts.
Maybe even an Olympus XA, but I would have thought I’d have been priced out of that option around this time.
Maybe I’d have gone with something a little older like a manual focus rangefinder, like a Minolta Hi-Matic or Konica C35 or an older Canonet, or something more exotic.
Most probably I would have soon found my way to Pentax one way or another.
Perhaps after getting comfortable with my first semi automated cameras I’d have dipped my toes in the SLR world with a Pentax ME or ME Super and a 50/1.7 M lens.
I suspect this, in time would have made me curious about older Pentax models, like the Spotmatics and the amazing Takumar lenses.
But then how would I have found out about these other cameras, with no internet, no blogs, no Flickr, no Camera Wiki, no PentaxForums, no eBay?
I think if I’d have enjoyed my first photography experiments enough I would have sought out a group or club of some kind, probably via speaking to someone in one of the places I got my film developed. Back then of course there would have been multiple options on every high street!
Of course there have always been photography books – not just of the photographs of great photographers, but of particular models, the history of brands and genres of photography, and so on. Plenty of learning to absorb.
An evening class or workshop is another option I’d have probably explored to get to know the basics better.
From my reading, and the contacts I made at any clubs or classes – and the cameras I saw others using – I’d gain an idea of what I might like next.
What I think would have been very different is the channels through which I bought, and the cost of the cameras.
In recent years I’ve picked up dozens of lovely lenses for less than £20 and plenty for less than £5. A generation previously there would have been fewer around, though you could argue more from the 70s were still in circulation and hadn’t broken or become fungus infested.
I don’t expect you could have picked up something like a Takumar 55/1.8 for the equivalent of £20, maybe three or four times that. So my casual – and at times bordering on uncontrollable – spending of recent years would not have been possible. I just couldn’t have afforded it.
I think this would have hugely positive and meant that I would only have one, possibly two cameras, maybe one compact, one SLR or rangefinder.
Which would mean I would get to know them in far more depth than the majority of cameras I’ve had in current times. I’d guess that of maybe 150 film cameras I’ve had, I’ve put more than six rolls through perhaps only a dozen of them.
Another aspect that would have been very different is processing.
Aside from the complete absence of digital – including digital scans of negatives – I would have always got prints back from the developer.
I think this would have changed my perception of the value of a great photograph, having it physically there in my hand. And inevitably those I was most proud of I would have made enlargements of and hung on walls.
Initially with this train of thought I wondered if I would have shot very selectively, given that every photograph would cost me money.
But then I remembered trips with my nan in the 80s to high street camera stores, and the wide range of options. My nan wasn’t well off by any means but had film developed quite often, and I always remember her getting a free film every time she took the previous one in to be developed.
So maybe processing film in 1981 was much more affordable than I think?
Overall, born a generation earlier, I think I would have missed out on the connections and information and opportunities for acquiring new (old) cameras cheaply that I have known.
But maybe all of these limitations would have been good for me, and I’d have been able to focus more on trying to master one camera, one lens, one type of film.
As well as enjoying the physical print in a way I’ve barely explored at all in my current photography.
This has been an interesting imaginary trip through time, and certainly given me food for thought on how I currently shoot.
In particular with regard to having and using just one camera/lens and the potential value of prints that I almost completely overlook…
How would your photography have looked if you’d been born a generation older?
I’d love to hear in the comments below (and remember to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).
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44 thoughts on “How Would Your Photography Have Looked Born A Generation Older?”
Well, I bought my first camera in 1978, still in school and strangely I was able to afford buying film and getting it developed. Nowadays I sometimes wonder at the expense… that’s having a family and limited funds for you.
Then again I would have been (and was) very happy with my one camera, an AE-1 and later a Nikon F after the Canon was stolen. No fancy lenses either, just the big standard 50 1.8, a 28mm Sigma and of course the inevitable Tokina 70-210mm zoom lens… but it worked!
No internet to tempt you, no silly low prices to lure you into a buying frenzy…
And there was Kodachrome…!!!
Sometimes I wish time had stopped then. Like a photo of the ‘good old days’. Or is that just my selective memory speaking?
Then again my photography has changed tremendously from those days long ago. I’m not sure it would have if all this new fangled internet stuff would not have been around!
Frank, the question I’m dying to ask is, given I know you’re down to just three cameras, why isn’t one of them a Nikon F?
Well, that’s because I’m a bloody imbecile. In 2004 I thought I absolutely needed to be hip and get one of those new DSLRs. A Canon EOS300D.
So I sold the F and (imagine the stupid bastard) the 55mm f:1.2 (Yes, a 1.2…) on eBay.
Only good thing is I don’t remember how cheap I sold it. And I really don’t want to know!
So that’s my story. I’m Frank Lehnen and I was an asshole… but I’m getting better
Frank there must be hundreds, thousands, maybe tens of thousands of people who sold up their film kit in the early 2000s and hopped on the digital express, and later regretted not keeping at least some of their film kit too.
Does another Nikon F interest you, or does the Spotmatic do all you need? I know from having a Spotmatic myself (also an F, ironically), it’s all I could hope for really in a mechanical SLR, and the Takumar lenses are a joy.
The Spottie fills the spot nicely. Same insane weight, same feel like filed from a block of steel.
Not the satisfying possibility to dismantle it like a well oiled gun and click it together again though. No, the Spotmatic is all I need…. and the lenses are cheaper! And better!
Now if you have an F for cheap with a lens or two…. who knows.
Bloody GAS again…
Dan, I am so glad I kept my old Pentax film camera. I’ve had lots of fun in recent times shooting more rolls of film. I am more into digital now with an old little digital camera and a bit with my mobile phone xoxosusanJOY
Susan you can’t go wrong with an old Pentax! I seem to recall you have a K1000, which is essentially a Spotmatic (like Frank and I have) with the Pentax K bayonet mount rather than the older M42 screw mount. Fabulous cameras for that simple film experience.
Frank, yes from what I’ve read about the Nikon F, it was the ultimate customisable pro camera – any focusing screen, viewfinder, lens and accessory combination you could ever want… Probably a good reason I was never drawn to one – the simplicity of the Spotmatic is far preferable for me!
Re the Canon DSLR, how long did that last? Must have been quite different compared with the Nikon F!
By the way, intriguing that after owning that Nikon for so long you switched to Canon when it came to your first DSLR…
Had the Canon first in fact. Used it for about 5 years when it got stolen.
I got the F for free from a well meaning acquaintance afterwards…
Used it for the next 20 some years… until that darn digital Canon happened
Interesting post Dan! I bought my first decent camera, an OM-! in 1981, used, for a class at school. Went to a camera shop in Harvard Square where rich folks bought and traded, and it appeared unused. I remember it cost me about a weeks wages with the 50/1.4 lens, which is about what I paid for my compact digital camera a few years ago. I later added a 100mm lens which was just O.K. I spent another few hundred to have it serviced several years ago, and it still works well. I guess a generation earlier I would have been hefting a bigger heavier camera around, but otherwise not much difference. I did all my processing at school and film was dirt cheap. I gave up photography for many years and wonder how much I would have improved if I had kept it up, still a rubbish snapshooter. I am trying to make up for lost time now, but it is hard for me to make time for another hobby, cycling takes up most of my spare time, I’m obsessed I’m afraid….
Jin, thanks for your input. The OM1 is one of very few film cameras I’m still curious about – just to feel and play with if not actually putting film through it. Love that you’re still using yours so many years later.
That’s strange about cycling, I keep coming across photographers who also love cycling. I wonder that the connection is?
I bought my first new film camera in 35 years last week. A rather nice OM40. As fate would have it, a couple of days later I stumbled across a mechanically sound (but needs new light seals) OM1n, with a 50/1.4 and a 28/3.5 all in a big old flight case with some other gubbins, in an antiques shop in Matlock. All for the grand sum of £75. I am concerned that I seem to have acquired two cameras before I have even developed the film I have put through the first one 🙂
It has to be said. there is something about the OM1. It is a joy to handle. It has what it needs and nothing more, and what it has is beautifully made and easy to use. I am anxious to get it up and running.
Tony, I had an Olympus OM40 for a while, and really quite liked it. Just never really embraced the OM lenses in the way I have Pentax K, M42, Minolta, even Konica in the past. That said, the OM1 is one of very few film SLRs that still intrigue me, along with maybe one or two Nikons. Well done on your find!
Sorry to do this on your post Dan but is there a way of contacting you personally like in the old days. Now that I am renewing my interest in photography I have questions and ideas and need someone to bounce them off and you were good at that in the CCS days. xoxo susanJOY
No worries Susan, I’ve emailed both email address I have for you, so hopefully at least one will reach you. Let me know.
I started in photography in 1965, with an old Kodak folding camera, then progressed through many of the cameras you listed in your post. Money was always an issue, but there always seemed to be a way to make ends meet, especially if you were diligent in scouting out a bargain. B&W film and home processing was pretty cheap then, color prints (of varying quality) could be done cheaply as well, Kodachrome slides were usually too expensive for me (although they have held up the best.) Photo magazines were very influential at the time, not just Popular and Modern photography but many others as well. I primarily use a Pentax Q7 now, I find that its image quality is very similar to 35mm film! I still make a lot of prints (I was a commercial print maker until I retired a few years ago), I wouldn’t go back to the darkroom now, for any reason.
I was an avid cyclist when I was younger as well!
Stephen, thanks for your comments.
It would be very interesting to travel back in time 50 years and see what was around in the photographic world back then.
The fact that we have so much available to us now is a blessing and a curse. On the plus side there’s such a huge range of choice, all a few clicks away. On the negative side, er, there’s such a huge range of choice, all a few clicks away…
Great to find another Q user. Fantastic aren’t they? I am very tempted by the Q7 for its slightly larger sensor and the fact this would in effect make the lenses a little wider. Even the standard 02 zoom would then be 24mm at the wide end, which to me makes it far more appealing than the 28mm equivalent it is on the original Q.
How do you make prints now, with a digital printer at home?
This photography/cyclist connection is spooky. I used to ride a lot (off road) when I was younger, and still have a bike for family rides etc in better weather.
A major reason I/we don’t do more is road safety. I could quite easily ride the 3.4 miles from home to work each day, but just wouldn’t be prepared to take my life in my hands on the roads.
I have both the Q7 and the Q-S1, I like the ergonomics of the Q7 better, the only thing the Q-S1 can do better is auto-focus on video with the 01, 02 and 08 lenses.
The 02 is a pretty good lens, and I found that I use it most often at its widest.
I print with a Canon Pro-100, you can get them here (Minnesota) for about $100 new in box, from someone who got it in a rebate deal when they bought a Canon DSLR. A set of inks is about $115, and good 13×19 paper is about $1 a sheet in quantity. So, for about $500, you can get hundreds of prints. Once I got my print settings figured out, I seldom had to redo a print. Epson and Canon have pigment-based printers that have more archival inks that do monochrome better, but they are much more expensive and much bigger. The dye based inks in the Pro-100 are pretty stable, actually better than C prints.
I would often commute by bike (26 miles round trip) but I had a pretty safe route.
I have done bike touring with a camera (a day trip in Iceland was especially memorable) you really get a different perspective on things from being on the road, but the weather is always a wild card.
Entertaining post as always Dan.
Entertaining, and thought provoking as usual.
However, I may have misunderstood when I read : how would my photography look? I guess that’s really up to interpretation… Just like everything in life.
I would have loved to have been there at Lacock Abbey in the 1830s when (one of my personal heroes) WHF Talbot thought : “How charming it would be if it were possible to cause (these) natural images to imprint themselves durably and remain fixed upon the paper!” All that messing about with salts, iron oxides and eventually silver nitrates. And all those different types of paper. How long could he get an image to remain visible before it faded? All these curiosities, and more kept him busy. Others in this new field speculated about the potential of using sodium thiosulfate, the salt, when mixed with water became the iconic HYPO Fixer.
I know it’s a romantic view of the distant past. The odd thing about being nearly 200 years later, is that we have choices. Some would argue, too many choices. Interesting how many are inflicted by this odd yearning, or desire to see the world through those rose-timed shades of times gone by. Just think about all the twinstabooklickr filters that we have access to, and use. I can certainly attest to that feeling, and have used many of those very filters.
I went through Pictorialism, Secession and Serialism phases a few years back, and without knowing, I have recently begun to see a similar feel in my images. By going ‘back’, I have moved towards what kind of images I want to create, and do. Oddly, I don’t think my style in itself would be any different, but the life surrounding my images would most likely be very different. My photography would look very similar to what I am doing today Dan. Other than a difference in the intrinsic value of the tools I would use, they would no doubt be very recognisable. Some chemicals, paper, a light-tight box, and Robert’s your father’s brother!
My vinyl adventure kicked off with the usual suspects : Hendrix, Cream, Zeppelin, Deep Purple, to mention a few. But the was only one BOWIE! Part of me was crushed when his star switched off. It might be a bit faded, and you can still hear the distinctive crackle and hiss of the valves in your amp, but we can all be heroes, just for one day!
If you get a moment, can you drop me you email address as well mate. I have something for you…..
Thanks Anton for your always enlightening and enthusiastic responses. We visited Lacock Abbey in 2016 on the way to holiday. Was very interesting, the photography stuff as well as the place generally. Really great little camera museum. Excellent books too, I really must start to invest in some photo books…
Probably for many of us, the convenience of the tools we use now is the major difference to a couple of decades previously, or even a hundred years ago. With my digital compacts I’ve found that balance between what I might called soulful images (compared with the soulless output of many digital cameras) reminiscent of film, but with the convenience and control of digital. I still like an imperfect, characterful look, hence why I’m actually finding my favourite lens currently is the “Mount Shield 07” on my Pentax Q which is very primitive and limited and reminds me of my Holga 120N images. And why I like the “sketchbook” look of the Ricohs.
Bowie and Kate Bush are both huge influences for me. I don’t universally love Bowie’s work but have constantly admired his ability to evolve and experiment. My favourite albums are probably Heroes, Low, Lodger, Scary Monsters, though I also love parts of Diamond Dogs, Hunky Dory, Ziggy Stardust, Young Americans, Station To Station and Let’s Dance… Oh and of course the Labyrinth soundtrack… And he was just the coolest guy wasn’t he… There’s a Starman waiting in the sky…
Have just messaged you via Google+ with my email address, I’m intrigued!
I still have my first 35mm camera (Voigtländer Vito B) but although I used it for a while back then I didn’t try it for many many years until fairly recently and it sat forgotten while I enjoyed more modern toys. The first 35mm I bought back in the 80s was a used Zenit which I think I bought from a friendl; I later traded it in for a used Ricoh with the wonderful Pentax K mount (that was the thing to have back then as screwing in the lenses was so labour intensive). I kept that for a while and don’t really remember getting rid of it. After that there were a series of compact cameras in the years where photography took a back seat and I didn’t own a ‘serious’ camera again until I bought a Canon EOS sometime around 2000 I think.
So during the 80s I took time to attend an evening class on photography and was developing my own photographs as a result; at least for a short while though i never bought an enlarger or anything for at home.
Zoom lenses were mostly beyond my budget back in the 80s but I do remember eventually investing in a Tamron for my Ricoh.
So if I were born 25 years earlier, what would my photography look like? I suspect I would have got more into developing and I think I might have had a Nikon SLR or something like that. Certainly one camera would have been it as unless you were a pro (as I remember) you had whatever system you had. Glass and film were the real things that varied from that point which is where you invested; after all a camera back is just a shutter and a film winder.
Yeh I think back then even pros maybe only had one main camera and one back up body – either the same model or a cheaper variation. I’m sure there were always hardcore collectors but these days everyone with any film camera seems to have at least six, if not 60!
Great point in your last paragraph. You could take one camera, say a Pentax ME Super, and depending on the glass you used, could get very mediocre results (eg cheap zooms) or fantastic results (an Asahi/Pentax lens, as well as some fabulous Chinons, Ricohs etc).
These days we think there are so many more variables (MegaPixels, does it have live view, focus peaking, shake reduction, tiltable screen, GPS, WiFi..!) but to make pictures we need very little. Probably why I’m keen on 7-12 year old digitals and nothing newer where features have got increasingly silly!
Back in the early 80’s my Dad was very much into photography (in fact he still is but only shoots digital now). Round about that time he bought a Ricoh SLR (KR10 I think) which was an object of tremendous fascination to me for quite a number of years. He also had a subscription to National Geographic and I still remember the camera adverts in those. Especially the Olympus OM – I always wanted one of those!
In the mid 80’s, he bought me a tiny 110 point and shoot from Boots and I shot a few rolls through that. I lost interest in cameras then until the mid 90’s when I was bought a Fuji AF point and shoot for my 21st. Back then, most people had something like that and it was simply a tool that we used to capture the goings on in life. I don’t remember lusting after particularly bigger or “better” cameras really.
I suppose that’s the point really. Even though my Dad had a really nice SLR and eventually a handful of decent lenses, it was just his camera. The only one. Not a specific camera for a specific purpose with an arsenal in the cupboard for different occasions. It was the camera (along with Mum’s 126 Instamatic) that our family history was captured on for years.
The other weekend, I spent a bit of time at my Aunt’s going through a lovely old B&W album that my Grandad compiled from his time in WWII right through until the late 60’s. A proper family album. I was struck by the fact that every photo was of a person or people and generally a posed group shot. The kind of “everyone line up for the obligatory holiday/birthday/Christmas photo” that we must all remember!
Almost none of them were artfully staged or and there weren’t any of general scenery etc.
But it’s a really lovely record of our family history at that time! Maybe 100 pictures (some of them were quite small) and all B&W so far, far fewer than people shoot nowadays on their smartphones. Even so, it still exists as a very treasured family heirloom.
Somewhat inspired, I may simplify things for a while by putting away all but one of my film cameras – probably a little Olympus P&S – and treating it as my only camera*. Just like the good old days.
So to answer your question, I think that 30 years or so ago, most of my photography would be capturing family memories, rather than making pictures for the sake of making nice pictures that is today.
* OK, one film and one digital then!
Richard, thanks for your reply. I remember my nan being the family picture taker, and she never had fancy cameras, mostly those Kodak 110 Instamatic cameras that flipped open so you had an extra handle to hold. I don’t look back at family photos now and think “I wish she’d used a better camera…”
With our family pictures now (ie myself, my wife and our two kids) we have so many pictures. While we do have plenty on the wall, there are thousands on my HD. Though I am going some way to rectify this by getting a digital photo frame and having a number of images on rotation in place of just one. Depending on how this experiment goes I might invest in a couple more.
Photography almost entirely passed me be by in my childhood and teens, which seems bizarre now, given how visual I am, and how much I can’t imagine life without photography.
It’s quite amazing how the majority of posts written (and the comments) by me and the community of photographers and photo blogs we’re part of, all come back to wanting to get back to fewer cameras!
I wonder if most of us are caught between two eras almost – the days of our parents and grandparents when people only had one camera, one TV, one stereo etc. and the modern day where we’re bombarded by sales messages and advertising and everything is incredibly disposable, and every family has half a dozen cameras, phones, tablets, laptops, TVs and more…
We yearn for the simplicity of the “good old days” but are equally seduced by the “you can have it all and then some” 21st century…
It does inspire me to continue to go against the majority and simplify my cameras and photography further still, to go back in time almost, to allow me to go forward, like Anton was talking about.
Completely agree Dan.
The writer/speaker Marshall Goldsmith describes the Western Disease which is “I’ll be happy when…” In our context that means just one more camera and one more lens. And then one more. And then one more. I was happy when all I had was my first Nikon Coolpix. I have two digital and five analogue cameras now (plus four lenses for my only SLR) and am no happier really. I like the aesthetic of film photos – glad I came across that again – and having an additional capability that my original Nikon doesn’t (PASM modes for instance) is sometimes useful. But on the whole, extra gear has not equalled extra happiness.
I think you mentioned Anthony Ongaro’s “Break the Twitch” in a previous post or reply. I’m very fond of that way of thinking. Of breaking our addiction to advertisers’ messages and the inadequacy it makes us feel.
Yep, simpler is definitely better! Maybe three to six months with only one camera is the way to try it out?
Richard yes I like to think about it as the “All I Need” illusion. In fact I might write a post about this. We think “all I need” is a Super Takumar 50/1.4 or Pentax Q7 to be happy with my photography. When in fact the reality is I already have “all I need” to enjoy myself and make beautiful photos…
I like the Break The Twitch stuff, it’s a powerful idea. I’m trying to reinterpret it for photography and have a version of it in a draft post.
Ah so which camera are you going with for your first three months of cameranogamy?
“Cameranogomy” – ha ha! I’d manage with one of my digital ones with ease so maybe my little Olympus Mju V. I’m enjoying using that at the moment.
Oh is that the bright shiny metal one? Was on my wishlist for a while. But I tried a Mju III and wasn’t that impressed so it put me off and I stuck with the good old original Mju 1!
Yeah that’s the one. I love the compactness of it but am struggling to fall in love with using it TBH. I’m going to give it a couple more films and see how it goes. I also have a Mju iii which I’ve had some decent results with. I love shooting with a compact for the portability of it, but it’s not the same as using an SLR. Strange really as my preference for digital cameras is overwhelmingly for compact ones.
That “falling in love” aspect is so important with cameras isn’t it? It can be the perfect camera on paper but if you use it and it doesn’t spark much passion, it’s not worth keeping, in my view. This is how I’ve felt about a few brands (with SLRs) over the years, like Canon and Olympus. Very capable but somehow left me cold. Whereas Asahi/Pentax I love!
With the SLR versus compact thing, I think that’s perfectly understandable. For me if I’m shooting film I’d rather have the all in immersive experience of a manual SLR. With digital I love the convenience and immediacy, so compact cameras fit in with the perfectly.
Soviet (and East German) imports were actually readily available in 1981. Zenit SLRs were sold in every Dixons under the Prinzflex brand and I can clearly remember Kiev rangefinder cameras and lenses being sold via my Mum’s Littlewoods catalogue of all places. My first proper camera was a Zenit E from Dixons, they literally just put a plastic sticker saying Prinzflex 500 over the original markings.
How intriguing! I do remember that Dixons bought out old brand names to sell under, like Miranda, who in the late 60s I think made high quality cameras, but the Dixons Miranda products were much more hit and miss in quality.
My first Mac in 1993 was a Dixons renamed Performa, basically a rebadged LCIII I seem to recall. They had their own special bundles of Apple products back when for every Mac sold there were probably about 500 PCs sold!
Yes I think the Miranda thing started some time in the eighties, but before that Prinz was their own brand for all sorts of products
… cameras, radios, alarm clocks etc, I suspect from myriad sources. The cameras were rebadged Zenits, the accessory lenses? Who knows?
They also had exclusive rights to Chinon in the UK … who made some pretty decent kit, much overlooked these days. My mum worked for PTP, who were Dixon’s photo processing outfit, so I got staff discount, free film and cheap processing, which is why I got a Chinon CS after the Zenit. A sort of knock of Spotmatic, but very nicely made all the same (more than can be said for that Zenit).
Oh I didn’t know Prinz extended to other items. I had a Prinzflex (or maybe Prinzgalaxy?) lens once, didn’t exactly bowl me over!
I’ve had a few Chinon K mount SLRs and they’ve been pretty good, a genuine alternative to a Pentax ME Super etc. The Auto Chinon 50/1.7 is a cracking little lens, I wrote about it before – https://35hunter.wordpress.com/2017/04/07/lens-love-2-auto-chinon-50mm-f1-7-pk/
I also had an older M42 Chinon 55/1.7 which was lovely too.
With M42, anything seems a bit redundant to me when you can have an Asahi SV or S1a or Spotmatic for very little. Zenits are dirt cheap and I have got some very pleasing results, but a bit too primitive for my liking!
The Helios 44 lenses are fab though!
Prinz lenses had a rep for being pretty awful, deserved or not. I have no idea who made them. I had some Prinz binoculars that were quite good. Most of their consumer electronics were kind of cheap and nasty … but probably look quite solid compared to todays’ cheapest.
The Chinon M42 55mm/1.7 was the lens that came with the Chinon I had. I loved that camera. At the time second hand Spotmatics weren’t cheap, I think they had a bit of a cult following even then, but the manual M42 Chinon was a pretty good copy. After that I had a Rolleiflex SL35E, which looking back on it wasn’t a good move. . I got it when Rollei was in financial difficulties. I saved up the money from my Saturday job and sold the Chinon. duh. It had a seriously good standard lens (a West German Zeiss designed 50mm/1.8 Planar), but the handling seemed a little clunkier to me even if it was automatic. It clapped out on me ten years later with zero chance of a fix. The Chinon I had sold to a friend was working still just fine. After that a used Minolta 35mm auto zoom of some sort, which actually took far superior photos than any subsequent digi compact I had.
What I liked about that Chinon, and I expect when this OM1 is ship shape too, was the simple +/- metering.There is a lot to be said for it. With a bit of practice it’ was as quick to use as the auto exposure on the Rollei and like many “obsolete” analogue systems, gave you more information than you realised until you lost it and LED displays became the thing. I have to admit I didn’t appreciate the Helios I had on the Zenit … let’s just say the camera itself was pain enough that you could have fit anything on it and you would want something else 🙂
Anyway, I took the OM40 for a long walk in the country today. Had a great time. I’d forgotten how easy it is to bang your way through a roll of film though. I’m going to need to learn to be picky or this may not be so cheap 😉 Also manual focus on a good bright viewfinder. I’d forgotten what it was like to just focus on exactly what you want to be in focus, rather than trying to trick an auto into focussing on something other than what it wants to focus on. Feel like I’ve come home.
If I had started a generation earlier it would probably have been some sort of second hand TLR and the understairs cupboard as a darkroom, and I’d be claiming that real photographers have a squint, a crick in the neck and smell of chemicals.
Oh I had one of those Rollei Planars, two in fact! I’d read they were one of the best 50s ever made, but in a relatively obscure mount (Rollei QBM) so they didn’t tend to draw the prices the other Zeiss lenses did. I got an adapter for my NEX to use them on and ordered one. Unfortunately it didn’t work, the aperture pin didn’t work. I sent it back to the seller and he promptly sent me another, allegedly also recently serviced. But that one had just the same issue. So I returned that and decided it wasn’t meant to be! But there are a number of lenses in that mount that are very highly regarded.
Re the +/- metering, yeh that’s the appeal of cameras like the Spotmatic F, K1000, KM etc. All you needed to is get the needle horizontal.
Great to hear how much you enjoyed the OM40! I’m sure the OM1 will be at least as enjoyable… Let me know!
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Oh I can answer that question easily. In 1981 I was using a Yashica TL Electro X, which was all I could afford. It had the one 50mm lens. In 1984 I bought a new Contax 139 Quartz, with the Planar 1.7/50. That was what I shot for the next 20 years, when I moved to digital, using about four cameras starting with the very basic to an entry level Canon EOS about seven years ago. Three years ago I rediscovered my Contax, which remains my favourite. Although I now have several bodies and a small collection of lenses!
So, if you started in 1981 Steve, what might you have chosen if born a generation before, say you started shooting in 1956?
Ah that is harder. Possibly a Kodak folder, or maybe something like one of the cheaper 35mm viewfinders like a Zeiss Ikon Contina or Voigtlander Vito….
I had a couple of Vito B cameras, very cute and elegant little things.