The Pleasure And Promise Of The Purchase

Regular readers will know that these days I have only about a dozen cameras, and often use just one per month.

Some contrast to my peak (or nadir, depending on your view) a few years back when I had close to 60 cameras, and maybe 25 lenses too, hadn’t used even half of them, and spent forever debating which to take on my next photowalk.

Of course this collection didn’t just fall into my lap one morning, a job lot from an auction or inheritance.

It was accumulated over months, usually one or two cameras at a time.

Clearly there was a reason that this act of buying a new (to me) camera was one I repeated hundreds of times over a six or seven year period.

We could call this the triple P – The Pleasure and the Promise of the Purchase.

Each of these Ps have a power in their own right, and combined they’re almost irresistible.

Let’s break it down further.

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Pleasure

This one is simple. I really enjoy using different cameras. Figuring out how they work, where the main functions are, what the optimum set up might be, their sounds, how they feel in my hands, and so on.

Of course the danger was always having so many cameras that whichever one you pick up, you then spend too long trying to figure it out all over again, because it’s so long since you lasted used it.

The first time you do this it’s exciting and a new venture.

Doing with a camera you already should know but have forgotten, isn’t anything like as much fun. In fact it becomes a chore, and a barrier to a fluid photography experience.

But we tend to forget all of this when our eyes are poring over the images and our fingers hovering over the bid button on eBay…

Promise

Every time a new camera arrives, it’s the start of a new adventure, the first date in a brand new relationship with all the promise a young innocent feels using a dating service for the first time. Will he or she be “the one”?

In essence, this next camera could be the best camera you’ve ever used. By best, I mean best suited to your particular photography needs and ways.

But as time passed, the likelihood is you’ve already used one very similar and probably better already, but sold or donated it months ago because you thought there might be something just slightly better out there.

Your outlook quickly sours and becomes more akin to the dating service veteran, who’s been on a multi-year quest to find Mr or Mrs Perfect, and found hundreds of Not Quite Good Enoughs, Nice But Dulls and No Chance In Hells.

Purchase

This one perhaps has even more layers than the others.

As much as I try to be minimalist, frugal, and non-consumerist, I can’t deny that sometimes buying stuff just feels good.

Perhaps it’s simply a reminder of how very fortunate I am, and how many blessings I have to count, and being able to add just one more.

There’s also that oxymoron of buying more, but it being something that you perceive as excellent value, because it cost so much less now than when it was new.

It’s still consumption, but in the more palatable (dis)guise of a bargain.

My inner frugal minimalist loves paying £26 for a DSLR that was originally hundreds, because it feels like I’m bucking the system, opting out of the upgrade parade, and those hundreds I’ve not spent on a camera can be put to less selfish use, like a family holiday, or gifts for the children.

The flaw here, is that this ploy works brilliantly once or twice, but if you buy 50 cameras, even at £10 each, you’ve spent £500. Not such a bargain.

Fortunately, I was able more often than not to gain more than I spent in the sale of all of those cameras.

But it would be so easy to lose track and be hundreds down, kidding yourself you’re highly frugal because you never outlay more than £10 or £20 on a camera.

Broken down, it’s easy to see how attractive buying cameras is. 

The huge appeal and advantages of using just a few cameras are almost constantly under threat from the pleasure, promise and purchase of buying more.

How about you? What draws you into buying another camera? How does it make you feel? 

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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6 thoughts on “The Pleasure And Promise Of The Purchase”

  1. Hey Dan,

    I enjoyed this post. I knew you had gone through a great many cameras over the years and it’s interesting to hear a bit more about what drove you to do so and to use so many in such a relatively short time. Personally, I think that would have driven me mad, especially since I only shoot film (I don’t like surprise light leaks or malfunctioning shutters that end up ruining a roll of film).

    Although I wish I had the means to purchase tons of cameras (don’t we all?), even if I did I don’t actually know that it would be a positive thing for me. I really believe I’d get stuck in the never-ending “Which camera should I shoot?”, followed by the “Did I choose the right one?” circle of thinking. It would probably turn into a game of always second-guessing my decisions. For that reason, I think less really is more when it comes to cameras and associated gear.

    My small collection of cameras has been conspicuously absent of a solid point-and-shoot so I recently picked up a Canon Sure Shot Max for a good price (assuming it works correctly) and I plan on it filling that gap. I haven’t tested it yet, but if it works as it should I’ll be entirely satisfied with that being my one point-and-shoot I use. And on the SLR front (I’m not really a rangefinder guy), I’ve got my Minolta SRT and Pentax Spotmatic, both with a limited number of lenses to use with them. But I think that’s a good thing. I can focus on making pictures and not on making decisions about how to make pictures.

    I hope you and your family are all well. Take care!

    1. P, yes I was caught in exactly that loop you talk about – having so many options it took forever to choose, then when I did, I was second guessing myself, rather than fully enjoying the kit I had chosen. You end up feeling like such a spoilt little brat!

      Is the Sure Shot Max the one with green trim and lettering? Fixed lens, or zoom? I wouldn’t look further than a Pentax Espio/IQZoom for a classy and solid point and shoot film camera.

      https://35hunter.blog/2019/02/09/why-a-pentax-espio-should-be-top-of-your-compact-film-camera-wishlist/

      Yes we are all well, thank you for asking, hope you and yours are too.

      1. Here’s a link to Canon’s museum showing the Sure Shot Max. It’s a fixed-lens AF point-and-shoot. I’ve seen great results with it.

        https://global.canon/en/c-museum/product/film153.html

        Is that the one you were thinking of? Do you have any experience with it? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

        The IQZoom/Espio cameras make nice photos, no doubt, but I’m not all that attracted to them aesthetically.

        I’m glad you guys are all well. We are doing okay too. Thanks.

  2. Great article with lots of truths Dan.

    I ended up with lots of film cameras (I use two digital cameras) because I collect them for display. I have at least 50 but many are cheap plastic cameras. For film, I regularly use 2 Fuji 120s and a Nikon rangefinder but, especially since Covid, I have started shooting some from my collection. After trying a repair on a sticky leaf shutter with lighter fluid, I have repaired 5 or 6 that I bought “not working” for display. The stuck shutter has been the most common problem. After I fix a camera, I just have to try a roll of film.

    I have also been unable to stay away from eBay and have now two odd ones I bought for shooters; one Horizon panorama camera and one gravity shutter Purma. I’ve also had a tiny Pentax digital on order from Japan for over a month and it is stuck at the post office.

    So I’m still stuck with lots of cameras with a “need” to take different ones out on a photoshoot in the limited area I frequent; trying to find something different or shoot the same thing differently.

    Thanks for writing the very interesting article that has me thinking.

    1. You’re welcome, and thank you for your reply.

      Do you display your cameras in a public space somewhere? Or you mean just a personal collection in your own home?

      What’s the tiny Pentax you’ve ordered? And the Horizon, what film does that take?

      Sometimes, against what seems logical, it’s by sticking to one camera for a more sustained period that we grow and evolve, rather than keep switching cameras every time we go out. We’re forced to look harder somehow. I’ve definitely found this with my One Month, One Camera experiments.

      https://35hunter.blog/2019/02/02/one-month-one-camera-january-2019-iii-summary/

  3. I constantly check my decades of collecting habit against the economic reality of the times. This mostly comes down to asking the question “will it really add anything to my photographic experience?” Most of the time the honest answer is “no”. I mean a Fujifilm X-Pro3 is a beautiful camera, but that alone is not a reason to buy one – even if it were affordable.
    Fortunately my purchasing options are limited here, so I don’t have the opportunity to go crazy on cameras anymore. I’m concentrating more on the shooting these days.

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