Some 30 months ago, my film camera collection was well out of hand.
Obsessed with trying to find the perfect camera (or cameras – one DSLR, one compact), I managed to amass over 50.
Many were near identical, either because they were siblings (for example seven of the 11 DSLRs were Asahi/Pentax) or because the features were so similar as to be near indistinguishable both in use, and in the final image (for example virtually every 35mm f/2.8 or f/3.5 80’s film compact I’ve used).
At some point I realised that the major reasons I photographed weren’t dependent on film.
Like being out in nature and/or exploring ancient churches and churchyards, and hunting for things I find beautiful to capture and share with others.
In fact, once I found a one or two digital cameras I really loved, it was the beginning of the end for my film exploits.
More generally, hoarding so many items goes against my natural predilection for living light, simply and frugally, so even if I had remained a die hard film shooter, I still would have culled the majority of my kit.
So today, my film arsenal looks like this.
So what remains, and why?
At the top, a Holga 120N, the first film camera I ever owned, bought for me as a present in June 2012.
I shot dozens of rolls with it, and it opened my eyes to the wonder of film. I still can’t quite believe how such a primitive device can make such distinctive and characterful photographs, or indeed how it makes any photographs at all!
I don’t plan to sell this, though I haven’t shot any film with it for five years. It has little worth, and maybe one day I’ll buy some Neopan or HP5 for old times’s sake.
On the middle row on the left, an Asahi Spotmatic F, another present, this time from my wife.
Aside from any sentimental connection, it remains the definitive and most luxurious mechanical film camera I’ve ever used, especially combined with the wonderful Super-Takumar 55/1.8. Which is, well, the definitive and most luxurious lens I’ve ever used.
It’s been perhaps two years since I shot any film with it, but it will always remain, even if I sold everything else.
Next to the Spotmatic, a Contax 139 Quartz.
Despite my adoration of Pentax and their ME series, the 139Q is the same compact size, better built, smoother to use and maybe even just has a brighter viewfinder too. Paired with a simple M42 to Contax/Yashica (C/Y) adapter, I can use my favourite M42 lenses with it on Aperture Priority (Av) mode, when the Spotmatic seems to heavy and too manual.
Again, it’s unlikely I’ll sell this camera, it’s the end game for me, in terms of a compact Av SLR body and I’d recommend one to anybody.
On the bottom row far left, yet another gift (from my father in law, like the Holga), a Minox 35GL, which has its original box and instructions.
My first 35mm camera and I still love its compact size and clever, precise German engineering. I’ve never quite got the images I’d hoped for from it, and being a gift that’s actually worth very little, I plan to keep this too.
Bottom middle, the fabulous Olympus Mju-1, which I gushed about in a post aptly named Mju Little Beauty.
However, despite it being my favourite 35mm film compact I’ve used (and remember I’ve had a few (hundred!)) I’m planning on selling it soon, simple because I have no desire to shoot film with a compact.
My digital compacts are so fabulous, there’s nothing the Mju can do that they can’t (except use film, obviously) and they do most things even better. I can’t see me ever using it again, so expect it to go soon.
Finally a Ricoh R1, a slightly simpler and less well equipped sibling to the much revered GR series.
I’ve got some excellent pictures with this (along with the more rare R10 which has the same lens and much the same body, but no 24mm mode), it’s pleasingly wide (but not too wide) at 30mm, plus an intriguing 24mm option, and the handling is even better than the Mju, and simply the best handling of any film compact I’ve ever tried.
Of course it’s a direct predecessor to my digital Ricoh GX100 and GRD III, and all three are near identical in size, shape and feel, ie magnificent.
Again though, as endearing as the R1 is, I have no desire to shoot film with a compact (this one has a film in it I loaded at some point in early 2017, which coming from someone who at my peak shot 15 rolls of film a month, says everything about my move away from the medium) so it’s likely to be sold.
Or more likely given away, as the top display doesn’t work (a common fault) so you’re resigned to pure point and shoot auto action, the default mode when you turn the camera on.
After years (and countless hours) of buying and selling on eBay a part of me never wants to darken its door again. I may try posting any cameras I want to find a new home for here on 35hunter and see how that goes first.
So there we have it, my evolution from 50+ film cameras to just six, with two of those looking for a new owner.
What a difference three years makes.
I plan to do a follow up post for my digital cameras, of which I have a few (but not lots) more of.
Tell us about your camera collection. Is it expanding or contracting? Which cameras do you use most, and why?
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