Camera Collection Reboot – Which Three Would You Choose?

recent post on JimGrey’s blog got me thinking…

So many of us have built up a bigger collection of cameras than we intended to – or will ever use – and are struggling to whittle them back down to a manageable size again.

But what if we took a different, more radical approach to streamlining the arsenal?

What if we donated our entire collection of cameras, lenses and all related kit in one go?

Then, with the rushing dizziness of that blank canvas and the opportunity to begin afresh, which three cameras would you pick first?

For me, this is a decision that took me about three seconds to make.

Here’s the lineup –

1. Pentax Q with 01 Standard Prime 47mm (equivalent) f/1.9 lens.

Unbelievably compact, very straightforward to understand and use, but with the performance to worry a DSLR, the Q has been an absolute revelation to me. I can’t imagine being without one.

Especially as it has interchangeable lenses (though I only have two) plus diverse adaptability to Pentax K mount and M42 should I ever need something extra.


2. Ricoh GRD III.

Despite very close competition from the Pentax Q, the GRD III remains the best handling and most intuitive interface of any digital camera I’ve used. The lens is stunning, fast and focuses down to 1cm. What else could you need?

The only reasons the Q was first on my list was the ability to get lovely results straight out of camera (the Ricoh still needs a bit of extra boosting), plus the potential expansion of the lens system, compared with the Ricoh’s fixed 28mm.


3. Asahi Spotmatic F with Super Takumar 55/1.8 lens.

For those times I want to go old school and shoot film, what better than arguably the finest camera to wear the Asahi name on its prism, combined with one of the greatest, most luxurious feeling lenses ever made?

Ironically in many ways this was the camera that signalled the decline of my film photography – the search for the definitive camera was all over. But I can’t imagine ever being without one.


Over to you – if you had a completion camera collection reboot, what would be the first three for your new collection?

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).

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22 thoughts on “Camera Collection Reboot – Which Three Would You Choose?”

  1. Solid question. Here’s my answer. For system cameras I’m not going to limit myself to one lens.

    Pentax ME – It’s tough for me to leave out my Nikon F2 and my Pentax Spotmatic F. If my mood were different I might choose one of them over the ME. But really, any one of those SLR bodies with the wide range of lenses I already own is a fabulous kit. And all three of those cameras have been professionally overhauled and will serve me for 20 years or more.

    Olympus XA – I want one pocketable 35mm camera and this is the best one I own.

    Canon S95 – Because it’s my workhorse and just keeps going.

    I find it fascinating that medium format doesn’t clear my bar when I have to choose just three. I suppose if you opened this up to four cameras I would keep my Yashica-D.

    1. Jim, an excellent trio!

      For a long time I felt I needed an SLR and a compact in both film and digital. I’m really questioning that these days.

  2. What a thought provoking post. I have thought about this today and am having a hard time deciding. I am a sentimental fool, especially when it comes to cameras. I do love my SLR systems a lot, but my vision is a very real issue and it is only going to get worse. I think it would have to be my Leica M’s (easy for me to focus), My Canon SLR,s (also easy to focus), and my Panasonic LX-something (good auto-focus). Does my iPhone count? I am madly in love with my iPhone SE.

    1. Thanks Jon, I like to get you thinking!

      I didn’t realise it (or admit it) at the time, but focusing with SLRs and DSLRs was becoming harder for me with my eyes too. Not that I couldn’t focus, just that it hurts my eyes far more than it used to. For some reason I find AF lenses much harder on the eye too – you’d think it would be other way around. Maybe because they lock into focus quickly your eyes have to work harder and faster to keep up with them? I remember having a couple of Minolta film AF bodies which I really liked (and some the Minolta AF lenses are absolutely amazing) but they tired my eyes so quickly.

      Using digital compacts I never really think about my eyes getting tired because it doesn’t happen.

      Yes the iPhone counts. But since we have that with us all the time anyway, maybe it shouldn’t? How do you use yours, with the standard Camera app, or something else? What about processing?

      1. Dan, I just got my iPhone, but so far I don’t think I have used the processing. I just signed up for an online class to learn how to use it. I love how easy it is to send people pictures.

      2. To be honest, whilst I like Hipstmatic for a bit more control and fun, the standard iPhone filters are pretty good, especially Transfer for colour shots and Noir for b/w.

  3. Hi Dan

    Number one…. Nikon d300….. Solid, A1build, reliable, excellent battery, versatile stellar camera….
    Number two….. Pentax Q10… compact, underrated, excellent build..
    Number three….Ricoh GX100..excellent lens, excellent layout, pocketsized..

    That’s my 3… for now anyway, at present the mini ricoh is being used the most as it’s the most recent camera brought, but even though the d300 is in comparison heavy and cumbersome …. it’s my go to camera that I use without thinking of what’s where etc…. the Q10, is the standby and one I use for those telephoto shots out in the field…even with a “big”lens on it still compact enough not to warrant taking along a heavy camera bag…
    Sadly my GAS is with lenses, not bodies, but then again I’ve always seemed to “want”a change now and then… it’s all very well not bothering to update etc ( even though I’m about 8 to 10 yrs at least behind the curve) but there comes a time when updating does make a difference to your end product, even if it only means you capture that wanted shot with ease… making you as the photographer at ease leaving more brain power for the creative juices to flow.. so to speak… in my case at any rate…

    Hope this helps your thought process…



    1. Hi Lynd, well a man with taste close to my heart! Of course I can’t argue with the Q(10) or GX100 as I have both and love them.

      Having a quick look at the Nikon D300, it looks rather similar to my Pentax K10D – a ten(ish) year old DSLR which was the flagship of its day and has all the features you could ever need. The K10D too I would describe as solid, well built, comfortable to handle, dependable.

      Regarding the lens GAS, what happens when you use a camera like the Ricoh GX100 which has a fixed lens (as in, not interchangeable, I know it’s a zoom)? Do you just forget about it and get on with using the camera, or constantly crave a camera which you can change the lens of?

  4. first 3 in my new collection…?

    1. Nikon F series with 50mm and 35mm lens
    2. Japanese TLR
    3. Something to fire 5×4 film through

    actually that’s what I got! and more importantly, that’s ALL I got, use, and need.
    Pretty happy with my NIKON FE2, Yashica-Mat and Intrepit 5×4 field camera (150mm and pinhole adapter)

    Oh, add my iPhone SE with it’s EPIC 12MP camera…
    Okay, that’s 4 – but who’s counting?

    1. Anton, so interesting how people see the iPhone (and camera phones in general). Regular contributor Richard asked virtually the same thing in another post recently.

      We all know the hypothetical – If a tree falls in the woods and no-one is around to hear it does it still make a sound? But what if in those same woods, the only camera I shot pictures with was an iPhone, would the pictures still exist? Would I still be a photographer? : )

      I’ve shot a range of SLRs across a number of brands, but the two that still retain some aspect of curiosity for me are Nikon (possibly an F, but later, smaller ones like the FE and FM series are probably more my style) and Olympus (OM-1 or 2).

      Never used a TLR or 5×4, I greatly admire your commitment to different formats and types of camera.

  5. I don’t know any of these cameras, Dan — but I’ll look forward to learning more about them when you announce your verdict and explain why!

    1. Hi Heide, thanks for your reply. If you follow the links in the post above you can read more about the Ricoh GRD III and Pentax Q. The Spotmatic F I haven’t “reviewed” as such, but after trying maybe a dozen different lens mounts, I found M42 lenses to be my favourites, especially Takumars. And after exploring maybe a dozen different M42 bodies, my conclusion was that you can’t really beat a Spotmatic, and the F is my favourite of those Spotmatics I’ve tried.

      I do also still have a few other cameras, but I’m happy with this small amount now, and don’t have a burning urge to purge any more.

  6. Hi Dan, thanks for the return of comments, in answer to your question about using the gx100, to be perfectly honest the thought of changing lenses or wanting a camera that is capable of such …. never crosses my mind when using that camera, I think it maybe due to the size, it sort of imprints on your brain that due to its size it has a restricted capabilities, if that makes sense, and that restricted capability is that you just have the zoom to play with,
    One of the things I will say for me that plays a big part in choosing is that “comfort” feel, I can only immediately compare it to buying shoes, you immediately know when you have the right pair for your needs, hence that comfort feeling, I’m a big follower of the idea that before you purchase an item your brain sends you initial thoughts and ideas of what to expect, it’s that expectation that helps you decide… ie that the last pair of shoes you tried on are the shoes you want, applying that analogy,when it comes to photography, that initial expectation actually plays a crucial part in whether you like or don’t like the camera you have in your hand, and from there the expectations grow, it’s at this point that after that very first photo/roll you immediately draw your conclusions as to if this camera is for you,
    Obviously, if you’ve been and spent a shed load of cash on your purchase this “want” desire for success is somehow delayed, you feel that you want to give your buy a “fair chance” where as if you’ve paid pennies for the said item and your not happy with that first picture or even roll of film, you easily brush it aside as being “not the one for me”
    After all that rambling, I hope I’ve answered your question…….



    1. Lynd, I very much agree with you about the feel of a camera, this is what has determined what remains of my collection. Most working cameras are capable of decent pictures, so it comes down to which fit us best – physically in the hand, and mentally, ie how intuitive the controls and layout feel for us. The Pentax Q and Ricoh GRD III and GX100 rank very highly for me in this regard. They all feel like comfy old shoes!

  7. Great question! Mine would be the three film cameras I shoot semi-regularly with: my Olympus OM-1 system, my Konica S-2 rangefinder, and my Rollei 35S. With some Kodak Portra 160 in the Olympus, Ektar 100 or Portra 400 in the Rollei, and Ilford Pan-F black & white in the Konica. Those plus my Plustek film scanner is all I’d need.

    That said, I would admit to really wanting to keep a digital camera, so I have to keep my Canon G15 also, it’s a fine little camera when travelling light or motorcycling. But then for serious photography when travelling I need my Canon SL1. And I still love my old Canon 20D for general photography and black & white when shot at ISO 400 (looks like Tri-X film). And given the age of the Olympus OM-1 I should keep the Canon Elan 7N’s too … aw, forget it, no way could I ever get down to three.

    Hello, I’m Jim and I’m a camera addict …

    1. Thanks for your input Jim. I used to think like that, then I just got tired from keep having to choose all the time. It made it easier to have fewer options, knowing it would give me more time to photograph with and enjoy what I have and love.

  8. 1. Canon AV-1
    2. Canon AE-1 Program
    3. Panasonic Lumix GX7

    These are my favourite cameras, and I could imagine donating/selling off all my others, but not these 3!

      1. Yep that’s true, I could probably just list them both as number 1 lol, but since making that comment, I’ve actually changed my mind anyway! Might be because I’ve not been using them much lately. I don’t even know what I’d put on the list now.

      2. Interesting. I struggled with this, when I had lots of cameras. Your favourite camera was always the camera I had got most recently. We never get a chance to know and love just one or two and form a longer, deeper connection if we’re constantly jumping the latest new flame. I know they’re just cameras, but I’m sure you know what I mean!

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