As you know, I’ve greatly simplified my photography arsenal in recent months, and currently use just a Pentax Q and Ricoh GRD III almost exclusively.
What I’ve noticed with great clarity since having the delightful little Q is my behaviour in wanting to acquire more cameras.
Being aware of this pattern of consumption helps me combat it, and remain with just the Q and the GRD, a pair I can’t speak highly enough of.
I wanted to share specifically how my urges have manifested and how in the past this has quickly led to a slippery slope that at its nadir meant I had 50+ cameras laying around and, though I’d used barely 20 of them, I continued to relentlessly accumulate more.
It’s all down to the infamous camera families of addiction avenue.
An early example for me was the Canon AE-1.
I’d read so much about this vintage 35mm film camera being one of the all time classics, that despite already trying largely similar Praktica, Konica and Pentax SLRs, I had to try the Canon.
So I found one, along with a definitive “normal” lens, the Canon FD 50/1.8.
I liked the AE-1, but didn’t love it.
It ticked a lot of boxes for vintage camera looks and feel, made good pictures and worked perfectly well, but I just couldn’t get my head around having to set the shutter speed, not the aperture.
With my fondness even back then for shallow depth of field (and controlling the depth of field generally being my most desirable requirement), it was all backwards.
I could reverse engineer it, start with a slow shutter speed of say 1/15s, see what aperture the camera would choose, then adjust up or down on the shutter dial until I had the required aperture.
But this felt awkward and counter intuitive.
So after further research I discovered Canon had made a sibling much more suited to those of us who prefer to control depth of field first, the AV-1.
This Canon was near identical to the AE-1, but aperture priority instead of shutter priority. Genius name eh?
Then after a while, although I liked the AV-1 and it felt far more natural to use than the AE-1, I started looking at successors along the Canon timeline.
Then bought a T70. Painfully ’80s, ugly, electronic and angular, but quite fun to use. And though bulky and heavy, ergonomically it handled surprisingly well.
Anyway, not too many rolls of film later I realised I didn’t really love any of the Canons, capable as they were.
(A story that would repeat itself over the next few years – in my eyes Canon make very capable but terribly bland and anonymous cameras that are difficult to get excited about.)
Some time after this, I chanced upon a Konica Autoreflex T. Beauty and the beast in a single body! Then I discovered the T2, similar but marginally different. Then the T3.
Again I liked these cameras, but they were very bulky and weighty.
So further research led me to the T4, a smaller more plasticky affair. I like the Konica lenses far more the Canons, in terms of rendering and the final image, but the build quality wasn’t fantastic.
And with the T, T2 and T3 just too much to lug around, and the T4 somehow a bit too plasticly and tacky, I sold all of the bodies, then in a later purge, off went the Hexanon lenses (after enjoying them for a while with my Sony NEX).
I’m sure you can see the emerging pattern here.
The first Ricoh digital I got was the GRD III.
I adored it, so got curious about its siblings, especially the GX100 which had similar spec but a wider lens (24mm at the wide end, plus an intelligent step zoom that let you use it essentially as a compact with a set of prime lenses – 24, 28, 35, 50 and 72mm).
I couldn’t find a GX100 immediately but found its successor the GX200 from a US seller (that turned out to have multiple flaws but was still capable of a decent image).
Whilst that was in half way across the Atlantic, I found and bought a GX100.
About a month later I stumbled across a CX1, another Ricoh compact with rave reviews, and a very similar (and fantastic) user interface and menu set up, which was irresistible at £20.
So within I month I went from having never used a digital Ricoh, to owning four.
The Pentax Q I have is the original of four models.
Especially tempting is the Q7, essentially the same as the Q, but with more plastic and a larger sensor, the same 1/1.7″ size as the Ricoh GRD III. If the original Q with its tiny 1/2.3″ sensor could make images like it could, how much more impressive could a Q7 be?
The Q system has eight lenses. I have two of them.
Plus, adapters are available for Pentax K mount, M42, C mount and lots of other lenses. The options are almost infinite.
But I’m aware of this addictive behaviour again, and for now have nipped it in the bud.
I confess I probably will at some point explore a Pentax K to Q adapter.
Two reasons – first, I already have a few K mount lenses, and I’m curious to see how they’d perform on the Q (especially with the 5.6x crop factor, ie a 35mm lens will have an equivalent field of view of 196mm on the Q!).
Second, because I already have a few M42 lenses also, plus a M42 to K adapter, so I could use that with the K to Q adapter to use any of my M42 lenses on the Q too. With one adapter I’d instantly have another nine lenses to experiment with on the little Q.
Back to the point.
All I need is one or two cameras, maybe at the very most say half a dozen.
Anything more just confuses our vision and gets in the way of us mastering what we have and making the most incredible photographs we can.
It’s easy to get sucked into buying cameras, and for me I have this particular weakness for members of the same family.
It just seems far more appealing than trying some completely new and different camera.
It’s akin to dating one girl, then thinking “ok, yeh I really like you, but I wonder if you have a sister or a cousin I might like even more!” Which is even less smart an approach than it is with cameras!
Becoming aware of this ever restless approach, constantly searching for something else instead of enjoying what I have, helps me resist, and get back on track with using my very favourite (and most invisible) cameras I already own and love.
Have you experienced the infamous camera families of addiction avenue? How do you deal with it?
What other patterns have you noticed in your own camera collecting?
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