The Most Popular Camera Club In The World – And Why I’m Proud I’ve Never Joined

Not being the most sociable of people much of the time – and photography being an opportunity to explore the countryside for hours with nothing but my camera as a companion – I’ve never joined a camera club.

But I can see how local clubs have their merits for those who do – as with any club built around a shared interest and passion.

The camera club I’m most pleased to have never joined though is one that is I would suggest is the largest and most prevalent in the world – and perhaps the most dangerously addictive. 

Unofficially, it’s called The Upgrade Parade.

(OK, I made that up, but I feel it serves the purpose well, and I love a rhyming name!)

Its members are camera owners (I hesitate to say “photographers”) whose major focus in their hobby is to study the latest cameras, lenses and other gear available, and ensure they upgrade at the right time (usually every few months), to the right gear.

And to follow and feed the websites and forums full of those who do the same.

The majority of their time is not spent actually out in the field making pictures that delight their senses and stir their souls, but instead analysing the spec and performance of the gear they have in minute detail, and seeing how it compares with other equipment available.

The Upgrade Parade are a camera company marketing department’s dream.

All the ad guys need to do is drop a couple of slightly higher numbers in their latest ads (42MP is so last year, no real photographer would be seen dead with a camera less than 45MP now…) and the Upgrade Parade roll over and relinquish their credit cards, tongues drooling.

Fortunately, for my sanity, my bank account, and my relationships with my family, I’ve never really been sucked into the upgrade cycle with anything, let alone cameras.

My current favourites are two Pentax DLSRs – one from 2006 that cost £26, the other from 2009 that set me back £30.

On the lens front, the one I reach for first currently is a Pentax-F 35-70mm zoom from the late ’80s that’s excellent for the close up work I love, and was a touch over £20.

And as you might know, I have a penchant for old digital compacts too, usually 4MP or less and giving me change from a tenner.

I confess there was one time in my life though when I owned what was probably the very best device of its kind in the world.

That was in 2008 when I bought my Apple MacBook Pro.

A few months later though, the next iteration was released, and I’d fallen behind the curve.

I resisted the upgrade (I was still paying off the original!), and the one after, and the dozens after that.

Aside from switching the original hard drive to an SSD drive about three years ago, my old MBP is still going strong, 11 years later.

The other computer I use most is my wife’s decade old HP laptop that we resurrected as a Chromebook via Neverware’s CloudReady OS a year or so ago. It works better than it ever did brand new with bloated Windows software.

But with cameras, I’ve never been even remotely interested in the Upgrade Parade…

How about you? Which camera clubs are you a member of (or have deliberately avoided)? 

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).

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21 thoughts on “The Most Popular Camera Club In The World – And Why I’m Proud I’ve Never Joined”

    1. Yes, and it has to be an upgrade that will specifically improve your particularly style of photography, and your needs.

      For example if you often photograph at night and would really find higher ISOs would enhance your photos and give you more options with aperture and shutter speed, it’s a good reason to upgrade to a camera with higher ISO capabilities.

      I nearly always shoot in good daylight, and most of the time use ISO100 or 200 with no problems, so it’s pointless me upgrading to a camera with say ISO12800 or something, I wouldn’t use it.

      Many of the constant upgrades brands have been offering in the last five, perhaps 10 years have seemed focused entirely on convincing people that bigger numbers means they’ll be a better photographer…

  1. I can’t honestly say that I’m that interested in cameras. It’s photographs that appeal.

    I can appreciate a nice camera (and I’ve spent more than the original cost getting my beloved OM-1 serviced), but as long as I can get results I’m happy with, it’s no great deal. I’d not turn down a Leica or a Hasselblad should one fall into my lap, nor would I be offended at the latest digital camera, but I have a bunch of cheap film cameras that still take wonderfuly pictures, and my digital camera (that was launched to market in 2014) still works fine and has features that I don’t even understand, let alone feel the need to upgrade.

    If money were no object I might feel differently, and I can understand that the new features may offer real benefits to certain photographers but, at the end of the day, no matter how expensive / high-end the kit, there’s nothing out there that can improve the way I personally see composition or the way light works on a scene, and I think that that’s the most important part of the process.

    1. It would be interesting to see if we came into a windfall of money (say £100k +), and if we’d go out and buy something high end, camera wise, or just carry on with what we have.

      I think if I won the lottery say, a couple of million, I would buy a digital Leica to try it out. But it wouldn’t be a new one, probably something ten years old with a CCD sensor!

    1. Andrew, love that old Mac “cube”. Funny how modern it still looks, even though it’s 18 years old. Jonny Ive was behind it no doubt, as with most of Apple’s products for the last 20 years plus. It’s amazing how products like this cube and the original iMacs influenced so many other products. You can’t seem to buy a hoover or a kettle or an iron without some part of it being translucent!

      I bought a blue and white desktop PowerMac G3 a few years back with the aim of building up a system, but never got round to it as I always found my MacBook Pro more convenient. Another great design though, and so refreshing compared with the beige boxes that all PCs were contained in at the time.

  2. I have never joined this club either Dan. I think I have shared this before, but I used my Olympus OM-1 for 25 years alongside my Ikoflex before picking up other cameras. I still have and use them both, but I went crazy when camera prices dropped like a stone and bought loads of equipment over the last 20 years. My newest digital camera is my Fujifilm X-Pro 1 which is at least 5 years old, and the only one I’ve ever bought new is my Panasonic LX-X which I bought when they were being closed out. That was introduced 7 years ago. I have no plans to upgrade any gear unless the Fuji dies, I’ve been told that it couldn’t be repaired. Also my car is a 2004 and runs like new since I drove it so seldom, usually using my bike. I have been using it more since my knee injury a few years ago, so It’s up to a hundred thousand miles now.

    1. I had that “crazy” phase too Jon, as you know! Just gets boring after a while though, and you need to settle down on fewer cameras for any kind of consistency and stability, I found.

      I have a 2006 Seat, which has just passed 110k. Hopefully plenty of life left in it yet!

  3. I couldn’t agree more.
    I belong to the Old-Film-Photographers-Who-Find-Digital-More-Practical-And-Shoot-More-Pictures Club. Yes I’ll look at new equipment. Then chuckle to myself about how sensible I am to not spend money on stuff that isn’t really any better. And that applies to more than cameras.
    Why right now I’m amusing myself with the old Kodak P850. And my pictures are ‘processed’ (to the extent that I do any such) on an ancient Gateway NV58 that’s had its memory and HD replaced and currently runs Linux Mint. I don’t even have Photoshop, and wish I could still run the old, limited Paint Shop Pro I used on Win XE machines. I manage with GIMP for what little I do.

    1. Marc, keeping it real with the old school gear!

      I think my club might be called Love-The-Idea-Of-Film-But-Actually-Old-Digital-Cameras-Are-Far-More-Practical-And-Affordable, or LTIOFBAODCAFMPAA, for short.

  4. “The majority of their time is not spent actually out in the field making pictures that delight their senses and stir their souls, but instead analysing the spec and performance of the gear they have in minute detail, and seeing how it compares with other equipment available.”

    Dan, this statement sums up perfectly why I never joined the Leica Club. Like others, I wouldn’t turn my nose up at one if someone gave it to me, but I just don’t get it. Camera as luxury item just seems like a waste. I’ve seen plenty of crappy pictures taken with Leicas, but somehow the very fact that the pictures were taken on a Leica somehow elevate them to some special status among some.

    Nothing more disabused me of the notion that you needed an expensive camera than a cheap SLR challenge I put myself to. I bought a Vivitar XV-20 for $10 and a Chinon 50mm f1.9 for $5 and took some of the best Autumn color pictures I’ve ever taken – delighting the senses, indeed. This, on a very pedestrian roll of Kodak Gold 200, no less. There’s a picture of my girlfriend’s grandparents that I took on an extended family vacation. They were sitting together on a porch and the light formed a beautiful highlight on them. Her family absolutely adores this picture. Both of her aunts have printed and framed it. I shot it on a Yashica FX-7 ($10, including 50mm f2 lens). Two cameras and lenses – $25. Joy and wonderful memories brought to self and others – Priceless.

    There is an intersection between the Leica Club and the Hype Club. I don’t care that (insert celebrity here) uses it – its still a point and shoot camera, and no sane individual would pay that much for it, IMO. I shamelessly profited from this on a Yashica T4 Super D I found in perfect nick for $7. I shot two rolls through it and sold it for a $453 profit. I loved the pictures I got from my Mju and PC35AF-M better, so why keep it?

    Don’t get me wrong, I can be a bit of a geek when it comes to performance, but you’re absolutely right that for some, it becomes more about the gear and the perceived “cool” factor than the pictures.

    1. Well done with the T4 Rob, fantastic profit! It’s crazy what people pay for certain cameras, like the Yashica T series, the Olympus Mjus etc. A few years back they were all well under £50 (I bought a Mju II in a charity shop for £1 around five years ago), and now they are all hundreds. Who’s buying them??

      I haven’t even held a Leica, let alone shot one. I’m sure they’re lovely to use, and there is pleasure to be had in using quality equipment. But yes there’s of course no guarantee that just because the gear is expensive and high quality, that every image (or indeed ANY image) made with them will be any good.

      I think this is at the core of why many keep upgrading, the manufacturers make these promises, or perhaps only imply, that if you buy the latest “greatest” camera they’ve produced it will transform your photography.

      If you stuck an average road driver in a Formula 1 car they wouldn’t suddenly be challenging Lewis Hamilton in skill and talent, it’s just not logical, so I’m not sure why so many get sucked into the marketing spin with stuff like cameras.

      1. Thanks Dan – That T4 bankrolled my K-5 with money left over but it was actually my second awesome find.

        Before that, I came across a Mju II in mint condition (still had the stickers on it!) for $4. I gave the camera and $50 cash to a local camera dealer and walked out with a Zeiss Tessar 45mm f2.8 for my Contax/Yashica gear.

        He sold the Mju II in less than 24 hours for $200. I asked the same question you did? Who’s buying these at this price?

        Just because I won’t join the Hype Club doesn’t mean I can’t profit from it. 😉

      2. Ha ha yes exactly.

        I do see the appeal in a camera that is obviously high quality. Based on my experience with Contax SLRs, I’d love to try a T2. But I wouldn’t pay the £600+ they’re on eBay for!

  5. Indeed, there are lots of clubs for geeks who call themselves “artists” but who spend more time competing on who’s got the biggest (lens) than being creative. I have joined a small club where people are creative with sometimes very little or even old kit. It’s the result that matters and we learn a lot and get inspiration from each other.

    1. Yeh and this is true with all kinds of hobbies and interests, there are always those who seem to have more money than talent and think that buying a bigger/better car/camera/lens/computer/phone etc will make them more competent in using it, and give them more to show off.

      1. It’s local but they are quite active, with small local exhibitions of their members’ work, and each year they organize a photomarathon (a photo challenge day).

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