The Infamous Camera Families Of Addiction Avenue

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.

39851198804_dc113ae55c_b

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.

39863082204_568e688f68_b

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.

14579547394_1ed7a528a1_b

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.

10958099065_5914e71e17_b

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.

18994170825_ac8990145b_o

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).

23921920802_dd187c862b_b

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).

38515994882_fe8f0166ce_b

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.

39627160035_6129b246ef_b

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.

39851198244_a140598618_b

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.

26554865308_6418d65b41_b

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.

38615076470_ea39449f29_b

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? 

Please let us know in the comments below (and remember to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).

Thanks for reading. Please share this post with others you feel will enjoy it too.

22 thoughts on “The Infamous Camera Families Of Addiction Avenue”

  1. Optimization and maximization can be a trap.

    I’m going to go back to my old Canon S95 as an example. I have, for years, wondered if the S100, or S110, or S120, or even one of the similar-bodied G cameras, would give me capabilities I lack and would appreciate.

    But then when I explore the capabilities my S95 already has, ones I’ve not tapped, I find I’m still good.

    That said, I own a Konica T3 with that 50/1.7 and I adore it. It gives a look no other camera I own does. Do I need it? Nope. But I think I paid $30 for the kit. As long as I have a place to store it and will actually use it sometimes it doesn’t seem that bad to own one.

    1. Yes these days it’s actually harder to resist getting lost down these avenues because every brand makes so many cameras!

      Reading your reply Jim I thought of something further. The (low) cost of older cameras makes it so much harder. If I was looking for a brand new camera, I would carry out loads of research before coming to a decision, then expect to use that camera for years, because of the investment made.

      This is what happened with my Nikon CoolPix in fact, it remains the most I’ve ever paid for a single camera (about £300 I think) but it still serves me seven years later and I’ve shot tens of thousands of images with it.

      But with older, cheaper cameras, my research is less rigorous, because in the back of my head I’m thinking if I don’t like it I can just try something else similar. The financial commitment is much less, so the psychological commitment to making the camera work and get the best from it is much less.

      In fact there’s possibly an inverse relationship between cost and commitment. Which meant/means I ended up buying tons of cheap cameras and lenses and barely using them!

      It probably also explains why the two cameras I’m currently using are amongst the most expensive.

      1. Exactly. I’ll buy pretty much any camera that appears to work if it’s under $30. And then I own one more (damn) camera I’ll probably eventually have to get rid of.

        1. Yes, but if you passed over just say, five of these “cheap fixes”, think what you could do with that $150. That could get you a lovely film camera, maybe even with lens… Resist a few more times and you could be within reach of a used OM digital… 😀

          1. It depends how you look at it. If you can resist the urge to keep, get down to selling on eBay once you have tried it and you buy with a good eye, you could try out quite a few things and maybe make enough to finance your hobby or at least come out even. It’s not something I’ve applied to photographic equipment but I have to HiFi equipment. I tried all kinds of exotic old analogue stuff and effectively it cost me nothing, until I found what I was happy with (and then went deaf, so it was a moot point). Buying, refurbishing and selling things on can be a hobby in itself. You do have to have the discipline to move it on though and have an eye for it, and ability to do minor repairs or adjustments and most importantly, to reiterate, the ability to not hang on to stuff. Records and books … now that’s another matter ;). I would have a lot more space if I could bring myself to move that on.

          2. Tony, thanks for your thoughts. What you described is pretty much what I’ve done for three years or so. I just got burned out with it, and realised how many cameras and lenses I had without having used them enough (or at all!) and how much time I was spending on Bay which I’d rather spend doing other photography things – taking new photos, editing photos, writing 35hunter… After a recent purge and eBay sales phase, I have pretty much broken even financially, and have a core kit I’m really happy with. I’m very relived to be free of that buy, test, sell cycle now.

            Space is a bit of an issue too, not that we’re in an overly small house, but just that I don’t like having a lot of stuff and clutter around me.

        2. Jim – I used to do the exact same thing – keep seeing a camera online that I would spend money on and then I would see another a few months later. By the end of the year, I had 5 or 6 cameras that I kept on upgrading on. I wish I had saved the money and stuck with the original camera – I would be able to get a really high quality camera now had I done that! Starting to save now though.

  2. Dan, I am 62 and only ever had three cameras so no addiction here. Photography isn’t as high a priority as my other interests as you can see xoxo susanJOY

    1. Susan thanks for your thoughts. There are a number of readers who, like me, reached a point where the compulsive and somewhat mindless buying of photography kit was getting in the way of enjoying what we already have. This post hopefully highlights one of the major traps, and can help others avoid it. I know I’m so much happier with just a handful of cameras instead of 50+…

  3. just one question here fella….

    do you feel your images reflect your adventure through the various brands and models?
    can the AE-1 produce a similar enough image to your beloved little Q?

    Okay, that’s 2… but who’s counting? dammit, that’s 3… *sigh*

    1. Very interesting question Mr moon man…

      I’m half way through a post about how/where I began with photography and blogging, and where I am now. Which has meant looking at some of my earliest “intentional” photography, with camera phones. And, er, seeing that they’re not radically different to what/how I photograph today.

      I’m not sure the images reflect the adventure specific to a particular brand or camera, but I usually know, looking back through my Flickr, which camera/lens I used.

      I think I’ve had a steady progression irrespective of brand/model. I certainly remember over the last five or six years oscillating between (D)SLR and compact phases, which has informed my favoured type of image to shoot at the time, and longer term the kind of images I’ve settled on now, regardless of camera.

      I could probably find half a dozen shots of the same gravestone or tree or post box taken with different cameras and them not look much different in objective terms. Proving my fairly recent revelations that the camera is far less important than the photographer, in the final result. And the enjoyment I’ve got from different cameras is down to the “chemistry” I have had (or not had) with them, and very little to do with the tech specs.

      Canon AE-1 versus Pentax Q? I would say the Canon is far more versatile in terms of the final image, control of depth of field, bokeh potential, focus control and so on. And has the charm that – to some degree – any half decent film SLR has, because you’re shooting film, and all that comes with that more timeless and physical and tactile experience.

      But the Pentax Q easily wins out for ease of use, fun, compactness, convenience, immediacy, and cost.

      I’ll continue to ponder this!

  4. hmmmm… interesting!
    nothing wrong with a quick ponder or 2 😉

    Every now and again I have a look through some old pics looking for a particular neg that I want to make a print of, and I get a sense of how my images have seriously changed. I’ve always believed that, yes, a camera is just a tool, but you need a specific tool for a specific job. I recall when I was traipsing around Brixton in Lambeth, and other Sarf London boroughs, I wanted a grainy, high contrast black & white (dare I say, alla Daidō) image. And amazingly, I DID get those images with that little Ricoh GR film camera, and tweaking my processing techniques.

    I do recall though that once I lucked out with the GR camera and some Rodinal, I had no reason to explore that combination any longer. Thusly, when my ‘vision’ changed, I looked for new tools and combinations. SLR (my beloved Nikon F series cameras) with flash-guns (on and off) and highly saturated colour… done! Long exposure pin hole images… done! Micro with the EPIC Nikkor 35mm f/2D, Ilford D-X and some PAN 50… done! Now, on to some 5×4 investigations… the journey continues.

    The tool for me is just a means to an end. And I have no loyalty to any particular brand or device in fact. As long as I am able to have that initial vision a reality. Sometimes I don’t even get close. Sometimes, happily, I do…

    1. Anton, in the past, especially with film cameras, I’ve almost done it the other way around to you. Rather than have a vision of how I’d like the photographs to look, then try to create that by choosing a certain camera, lens, film etc, my approach was more like “how does the world look using this camera/lens/film?”

      I think it was Garry Winogrand said ““I photograph to find out what something will look like photographed”. That was my method, but adding “…with this combo of camera/lens/film…” at the end.

      Then the combos I liked most, I would use more often.

      More recently it has been the other way around, like you. For example, with my Ricoh (digital) compacts, I specifically like that contrasty, inky, grainy b/w look, so use them to get it. Using the Pentax Q, the look of the b/w photos is heavily influenced by what I get with the Ricohs, and with my iPhone too, I have a Hipstamatic set up that makes the iPhone shots more like the Ricohs, so there’s a consistency across my output, regardless of camera/tool used.

      Colour is different but still quite similar, I have a muted colour and a warm colour palette, which I wrote about here recently. Again, although the method is a little different (for the Ricoh I use a Hipstamatic process via the iPad, for the Q it’s all in camera), the output is, I think, fairly consistent.

      I am inspired though to look back over some of my Flickr photos for those that I remember as being particularly different or experimental, and think about how that impacted my photography from that point on…

  5. ha! I did the exact same thing with the Canons. I was gifted an AE-1 Program, then discovered the AV-1 (I also prefer aperture-priority), then ended up getting an A-1 as I wanted cameras that could do both, and more! However, unlike you, I really love these cameras 🙂 Had to resist finishing the set and getting an AE-1, AL-1 and AT-1! My problem is lenses now… I would buy them all! I have a Vivitar 19mm, Vivitar 28mm, Canon FD 50mm 1.4 & 1.8, Vivitar 55mm 2.8 macro, Canon FD 70-210mm f4 w/macro and a Canon FD 135mm 3.5. Now all i need 😉 is a 100mm f4 macro and my life will be complete lol

    1. But if that’s the only set/mount you have, then surely that’s fine? At least it’s all compatible and you can if you like keep one body for colour and one for b/w, or one with a wide angle lens, one with a tele, or whatever. Worse is when you have multiple mounts and the cameras/lenses all doing 95% the same as each other!

      1. I have Nikons too. It’s too much for me lol. I just bought a Nikon FG-20 and Nikon EM to try out, as I have the idea in my head to switch firmly back to Nikon, and I love them. I have my eye on an FM as well because I want a fully mechanical camera. I’m going to use the FG-20 and EM for a few weeks, and if I still love them, I will start selling/donating my Canon gear. I love that you can use almost any Nikon lens ever made with almost every Nikon camera ever made.

          1. Yeh, having lens compatibility across film and digital SLRs makes it even easier to stick to one mount. In my eyes this is a very sensible and efficient (and affordable!) approach to take.

        1. I think with SLRs (and DSLRs) once we commit to one mount, it makes it so much easier to hone further to our ideal kit. I know once I decided on M42 it was a game changer. Even if I later added Pentax K (the successor to M42), and the adapters that mean M42 lenses that can be used on K mount with a simple adapter.

          Sounds like you’re making a similar commitment to Nikon. 🙂

  6. What can I say…. AE-1, then AV-1. Better still the AT-1! Then off to an A-1 and finally the T90.

    And let’s not forget the T50 and T70, f…ugly contraptions but as you say surprisingly good to handle!

    They are all long gone now…

    1. The T70 is one of those cameras that, if it was all I had for the next ten years, I could make plenty of pleasing images. But I wouldn’t ever be the first camera I went to pick up. Which is the same for 95% of cameras I’ve tried!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s