What Does Your Camera Collection Say About You?

In my late teens and early 20s, being a young man trying to find his way in the world, I was hugely interested in music, and books.

More than that, I was, unconsciously at first, building a collection of books and CDs that I felt defined the person I was, what interested me, moved me, and shaped me.

Also important was that this collection was unique to me.

I remember having a very close friend, who was a few years younger, and him seeming to pick anything I liked and get it himself, like he was gradually cloning my own tastes and explorations.

Which I was really uncomfortable with at the time, as it felt like as quickly as I was finding what mattered to me, someone else was taking it away.

Some years later I became increasingly interested in minimalism, and shedding possessions, rather than collecting them.

Starting with a major purge, (a “shed project”, an idea I borrowed from some of the minimalist bloggers I followed at the time), the shedding then continued more gradually.

In time, most of my books and CDs went (the latter backed up as digital files first), and I felt much less of a need to define myself by these things.

These days, I don’t really have collections of anything.

I do have maybe 20 books.

Some are ones I’ve read and were good enough that I’m keeping them for a year or two in case I want to read them again.

Others are ones on my reading wish list, and I haven’t yet got around to making time for them.

I go through phases of reading books – though I read online multiple times daily.

Currently I’m on a good run of reading perhaps 20-40 minutes every night, which has steadily got me through three and a half novels in the last, well, three and a half months.

So some of those other books that have been gathering dust on my shelves might get a look in soon too.

For music I now almost entirely use Spotify through my phone.

If I’m walking on a lunch break at work or heading back from the school run in the morning, I plug in earphones.

If I’m working from home I use one of my Wonderboom speakers. I also often grab one of my (two) Wonderbooms if I’m driving somewhere with the kids, then they hang it (or both) on the hand rail or clip it/them on a head restraint in the back.

The versatile Wonderbooms also serve as my speakers for my morning yoga and exercise sessions.

If I’m in the main living room I send the sound from my phone through the Spotify app on the TV, wired up to my trusty old Denon stereo and Mission speakers.

I can’t remember the last time I put a CD in a player.

My current music “collection” features some old favourites (Stars Of The Lid, Eluvium, Hammock, Mogwai, Boards Of Canada), but evolves daily as Spotify connects me to new music that’s a bit like the music I’ve already listened to, but sends me off at slightly different tangents.

This year, artists like 36, Alaskan Tapes, Abul Mogard, Goldmund, Benjamin Gustafsson and, um, Enya, have been on heavy rotation amongst those aforementioned longer term musical pillars.

The only thing I have these days that could perhaps be seen as a collection, are my cameras.

If you’ve been here a while, you’ll know a few years back I had over 50 cameras, mostly film cameras, but I’d used only a small fraction of them.

These days I consider my core arsenal to be around 10 cameras, all digital (bar three film cameras I keep for any potential future returns to film) and all get regular enough use to warrant keeping.

I could pick up any one of them, and within a couple of minutes be familiar enough again to be happily shooting pictures.

But to the point of this post – what does a collection say about the collector?

With my CDs I wanted it to say that I didn’t follow the mainstream. That I liked the offbeat and obscure, finding unsung gems in dark corners and sharing them with my closest friends.

That I enjoyed seeking out and finding music that moved me and wasn’t just aural wallpaper.

And perhaps more fundamentally, that music soundtracked my life (and still does) and I can’t imagine a day where I don’t listen to music.

With the cameras I have now, I think there are two main messages.

First, that I don’t buy new cameras, love photography on a shoestring, and purposely avoid the traps of the upgrade parade.

My favourite cameras are between nine and 15 years old, and hark back to simpler, less digital, automated times, the glorious golden age of the digital camera.

Second, I like serial monogamy.

What I mean by this is that I like to give my full attention to one camera at a time, often sticking with just one camera for a month at a time as part of my ongoing One Month One Camera experiment.

But on the flipside I do enjoy some variety, so I have a few compacts and a few DSLRs, and the Pentax Q sitting somewhere in between – DSLR control and interchangeable lenses, in a tiny digital compact body.

Whichever camera I use gets my full attention.

But I use more than one over a period of weeks and months.

How about you? What does your camera collection say about you (even if it’s only one camera!)?

As always, 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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16 thoughts on “What Does Your Camera Collection Say About You?”

  1. My collection consists of Minolta SLRs, two Minolta DSLRs, and an Olympus DSLR. All are 17+ years old.

    This collection is a result of my wanting to shoot all the major Minolta film camera models as a stab at wish fulfillment. So, my collection says I really wanted to have upper level Minolta AF cameras years ago, but couldn’t afford them when they were new.

    Once I have written about each one, very likely, I will keep only my absolute favorites.

    https://earthsunfilm.com/the-vintage-minolta-love-project/

    1. Thanks Jerome. I’ve certainly experienced a similar thing with the wish fulfilment, but not so much with cameras as I was fairly oblivious to them growing up. But with toys, mountain bikes, video game consoles and so on, I’ve bought something used years after it was current, because it was something I’d really wanted at the time it came out but couldn’t afford.

      So how does the Olympus DSLR fit amongst all those Minoltas?

      1. Adapters that allow my manual Minolta lenses to work on Minolta DSLRs have a lens in them, which I don’t want. I can’t afford a mirrorless camera of the type I want. With the Olympus e300 I can use my manual Minolta lenses with a simple adapter that merely allows the lens to be attached. So, when I want to shoot digital with my vintage Minolta lenses, the e300 is the least expensive option (it cost me $25). Here is a link showing a few shots taken with the e300 and Minolta MD 75-150mm. https://earthsunfilm.com/lens-surprise-minolta-md-zoom-75-150mm-f4/

      2. Ah is that one of the Olympus DSLRs with the Kodak CCD sensors? I looked at one a while back (I think it was called something like Evolt E500) as many rave about the Kodak sensor and the lovely output.

  2. Wow Marc, I agree with you. And my collection has made a recent change partly due to some changes in my life circumstances. My camera collection has taken a turn to the Pre-1940’s and a more ‘Impressionistic’ look and feel. That’s my plan for 2021.

    1. I had no choice but to give up most of my extensive (hundreds) collection of cameras a couple of years ago. Now I am trying to concentrate on having only equipment that I will use and will add to my photographic repertoire.

  3. Hmmmm. It probablywould say “this bloke seems to quite like Contax and Zeiss stuff, and he is also playing with Mamiya medium format gear generously passed on by his cousin”. However to the best of my knowledge the collection remains mute on this or any other subject 😉

  4. I used to have a small guitar collection (about 12) and that went when I got married… but I still have 4 left, 3 of them are mainly made of parts so they’re not worth selling.
    Photography-wise, it’s similar… I recently bought the K-3 which is in fact only my 3rd-newest camera (it’s from 2013 and my K-50 and K-S1 are both from 2014). The K-S1 has a faulty aperture mechanism (manual aperture rings work) and the K-50 gets the shutter stuck sometimes when it’s humid, and has a broken battery latch. The K10D and K200D have buttons that don’t respond like they should (yes my K200D has developed that issue as well… but not as bad as the K10D). So I have 5 cameras and 4 of them aren’t worth selling…
    As for lenses yes I have about 20, so I guess that’s the closest to a collection in all the things that I have. And they’re mostly cheap older film lenses, and a few of them have issues.
    So what do my “collections” say about me? I guess they say I don’t really collect, but I do hold on to things that have lost resale value and are still useful, rather than getting rid of them (like my wife would like me to, I should say… hehehe)

  5. I have a handful of lenses that have been on my “sell” pile for ages, but I’ve never got around to selling them. The collective value would be worth having, but individually it seems too much hassle to bother. I might just donate them to a charity shop. This is another reason why I’ve bought so little recently, I don’t want something hanging around unused, or the faff of selling it.

  6. Hi Dan,
    I couldn’t respond directly to your last question (nesting issue maybe?)
    Yes the e300 has a Kodak CCD sensor, and as you can see from the photos in the link, color capture is great. The purple of the angelonia flower is perfect.

    1. Thanks Jerome, yes I limit the indented nesting, otherwise it looks very messy on the page and gets hard to read! Just reply to the next reply up.

      Agree about the colours, these Evolt cameras are on my wish list, one day!

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