Retreat, Retreat, The Cameras Are Taking Over!

Two or three years back I had over 50 cameras. Even worse, most were untested, as instead of using one I already had, I was incessantly buying more.

Thankfully I’m nowhere near this place again, but I’ve reached a point where I just have too many cameras.

How do I know when this happens?

There’s a significant shift in how I feel when I glance at my camera shelf.

And any over-spilling surrounding shelf and floor space.

Instead of looking forward to the next photowalk with one of my handful of favourite cameras, I’m noticing how cluttered and crammed the shelf is looking.

So when I think about the camera I want to use next, it’s not a clear choice.

Because too many of them I haven’t tried often enough to make a real judgement on how much I like them.

Put another way, the “untested cameras” start outnumbering the “tried and tested cameras”.

So then I go into mental gymnastics about the pros and cons of using each of the candidates, and end up destroying the enthusiasm I had to get out and photograph, before I’ve made a single shot.

This in turn triggers a whole set of feelings I don’t need to expand upon here, needless to say I don’t like them and they start to diminish my overall enjoyment of photography.

48144728892_32df467cc5_b
How a camera shelf of mine looked circa April 2016

So it’s time for another purge. 

Staying are my favourite Gang Of Four – a Ricoh GX100, Ricoh GRD III, Pentax Q and Panasonic Lumix LX3.

Also remaining in favour is the excellent little Canon IXUS 870 IS I used exclusively for a month in January, as I’ve realised it’s about as perfect as a tiny pocketable compact can be. I don’t need half a dozen other compacts that do much the same, but not quite as well.

A surprise remainer that’s also earned its stripes is the FujiFilm S7000 bridge camera that I didn’t think I’d like much, but has impressed me on multiple outings so far.

Just about avoiding the chop for now is the Lumix GF1, the potential digital classic I desperately want to love, but can’t connect with.

The main reasons it’s staying are that it’s still the only digital camera I have that I can use my remaining few M42 film lenses with, and the 7Artisans 25/1.8 lens I recently discovered seems as good a combo with the GF1 as anything.

This has been enhanced by discovering that its lower contrast and far from perfect rendering suits family photos beautifully – it’s become my go to family portrait camera/lens combo in the last few weeks.

For more spontaneous family event type photos I still rely on either my phone or the trusty Nikon Coolpix P300 I bought new eight years ago.

Finally, there’s one camera I do want to test that I haven’t yet.

The Samsung NV10 ticks plenty of boxes – size, handling, build quality, screen, a lens starting at 35mm f/2.8, and a 1/1.8″ 10MP CCD sensor. It could become one of my favourite digital compacts. More on that in due course.

Aside from these nine, the other half a dozen or so that seem to have crept into my collection have gone, including the two miniature marvels from Sony and Canon I recently compared.

They’re both great, but that IXUS 870 IS is even better.

I always try to focus on what I do have, and enjoy it, rather than bemoan what I don’t have, despite the relentless onslaught on dissatisfaction based marketing we’re all under fire from a thousand times a second.

So I want to be content with the nine cameras I have and get out and use them. There’s enough variety (and very little overlap) that each one can be enjoyed for its own particular quirks and qualities.

But if there was a “gap” in my arsenal, I think it’s for an older DSLR.

Something small, around 10 or 12 years old, 6 or 8MP, that I could use my M42 manual lenses on, as well as perhaps a compact 35 or 50mm prime.

Enough for now though, being in single figures again feels good!

How about you? How do you know when you have too many cameras? What do you do to get back in control when it feels like the cameras are taking over?

Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).

Thanks for looking.

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14 thoughts on “Retreat, Retreat, The Cameras Are Taking Over!”

  1. Too many cameras? Not possible! I laugh at your mere 50! 😀
    I wish I still had all 600+, even if they were kept in boxes and never seen much less used.

    1. Marc, there’s a part of me that would love to collect whole families and sets of cameras and lens, and display them in a museum to chart the history of various parts of photography. But, to just collect for collecting’s sake, and then never use or ever see them, I just don’t get the appeal!

      My principle for some years has been if I haven’t used a camera for say six months, I have to seriously question why I still have it.

      One or two slip through mainly for sentimental reasons (my Holga 120, the first film camera I owned, my Spotmatic F, the best M42 camera I’ve had as well as being a gift from my wife) but on the whole this works well. If I’m not using it, why have it, I’d rather give someone else the opportunity to.

      1. For me it is because I am more than a photographer; I am also a student of history and engineer. As such the equipment itself has a worth not connected with its use. Never mind that I grew up in a house that was combination museum and storage facility; I think that may have influenced my attitude. 😉

      2. I understand re the history and engineering perspective. Do you disassemble cameras to figure out they were built?

        Yes your house may have had an infleunce! My mum didn’t collect anything I’m aware of, my dad had a weakness for cars and motorbikes, which fortunately hasn’t passed down to me, as I don’t have the space or money. Hang on, nor did he!

      3. Most of the great collection went last year, and I was happy to see pieces of it go to those who will appreciate and even use it. I no longer do much of anything small-scale as age has taken its toll. Large-scale is difficult now too.
        I find it interesting that younger people who started digital are now getting into film, whereas an old film guy like me is ramping up his digital experience.
        Never limit yourself – unless you want to. 🙂

      4. I think a significant group of newer photographers who have started out with digital, have then tried old manual lenses adapted to DSLRs and mirrorless bodies. This had then led them a further step into the film cameras these lenses were originally intended for. We’re in such a golden age in terms of the cameras available to us!

  2. I have found that having one or two cameras in each category is better for me i.e. 1x digital mirrorlessn, 1 x DSLR, 1x 35mm film SLR, 1x medium format TLR, 1x 35mm film toy camera, 1x 35mm film wide angle toy camera, and so on. It’s important for me that each camera is near enough perfect so I don’t go looking for yet more cameras to add to my collection in that same category. So, for example, the only thing missing from my FM is an angled/waist-level viewfinder, but fortunately there are accessories for that! And my GX7 has everything except sometimes I wish it had a larger sensor. I am actually – hopefully! – getting a Nikon FG-20 soon, so that I can shoot two different types of films at the same time with my NIkkor lenses, plus I miss the FG-20 I used to have. Unfortunately, RM seems to have delivered it to the wrong place so I’m waiting for them to find it!

    When I spend ages debating which camera to take out with me, then I know I have too many. Sometimes I do debate between my Nikon FM and Yashicamat, but more often than not I pick the FM because I have more 35mm film than 120 and – most importantly! – I just prefer using the FM. When I used to have multiple SLRs – Canon A-series and Nikon cameras – I would literally spend 30 minutes trying to choose between them. It gave me anxiety. It’s because of this that I will never own more than 1 or 2 of the same type of camera. I really dislike making decisions and it gets in the way of photography!

    At the moment I only have 1 camera that I use regularly, and surprise surprise, it’s my Nikon FM.

    1. Thanks Mel. I think a one camera per category approach is very sensible… As long as we don’t have too many categories. It’s tempting to get into too much detail defining categories simply to justify keeping more cameras, eg “one 35mm SLR” could become “one all manual 35mm SLR” plus “one aperture priority 35mm SLR” plus “one compact 35mm SLR” plus “one AF 35mm SLR” plus “one compact 35mm SLR that shoots P, A, S, M and has a Minolta badge on” and so on.

      I’m completely with you on the 30 minute debates. Been there! Sometimes I’ve taken so long I’ve then run out of time to make it a worthwhile photowalk so ended up with not going out at all! The only way to combat this is to have fewer cameras, and no duplication between them, as we’ve discussed above.

      What does the GX7 lack sensor wise? Bigger so you get more DOF? More resolution? Smaller crop factor with vintage lenses?

      1. 100% agree about the categories. It would be too easy for me to fall into the trap of “well my only 35mm SLR is a manual mechnical one so I must get an automatic electronic one”, but fortunately I’ve been there, done that too many times, and never really liked using the latter type of cameras! But for someone who has less self control than me 🙂 it could be a recipe for disaster!

        Re the GX7, yep it’s mostly the smaller crop factor with vintage lenses that I would love. I really enjoy my Helios lens on both the GX7 and FM, but I definitely prefer the wider view and DOF with the FM. For now, it will do just fine, especially since once again I have an urge to shoot more film anyway!

      2. I know you’re not averse to using lens adapters, have you considered a Canon 5D? I’ve been thinking about one, the original pro full frame DSLR, and they can be had for under £200 these days.

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