It fascinates me how a convincing and impassioned story can sway our beliefs, opinions and decisions.
Not least of all when it’s us telling the story to ourselves.
This is an occasional series about some of the stories I’ve woven to myself, to justify a certain decision or purchase.
See all posts in the series here.
Today’s story –
The Asahi Pentax S1a
There’s no denying the Asahi Pentax S1a and the range it formed a part of are very handsome cameras.
My first one was a battered black example, with the brass showing through.
You could argue it was in that kind of condition because its previous owner(s) cared little for it, and chucked it in a camera bag with other bodies so it got clattered and battered and worn out before its time.
Or, as my story went, perhaps it was so loved by its one careful owner, that the paint had worn away purely because it had been held so often, accompanying him or her to every occasion possible over a period of decades, seeing and capturing their life as closely as their own bare eyes.
But alas the black edition didn’t appear to work properly.
Because it was so well balanced, and felt such a joy to hold, I convinced myself that despite having half a dozen other perfectly operational Pentax M42 bodies at the time, that I needed a working S1a in my life.
It seemed to embrace the perfect midpoint between the slightly larger Spotmatics (again good looking, but a little clunkier looking with the hot shoe and larger dimensions) and the later M series, like the Pentax MG and ME Super.
Those M cameras were lovely, but the S1a seemed to fit my hands that tiny bit better, and the wind on and shutter dial were certainly smoother, even on my well loved/worn black S1a.
If I just get a fully working S1a, I can then sell a few other bodies that are obviously inferior in looks, and for me, handling and size, I told myself.
So I found a silver one, in very good condition, especially for its age (over 50 years old when I bought mine).
This one appeared to be in great working order, but in the meantime I’d had some advice about the fault with the black one, removed the bottom plate and given it a little clean and lubrication. And it sprang back to life!
Ironically the silver one soon stopped working like the black example had, so I did the same light maintenance and it recovered also.
So now I had two complementary examples of the loveliest film camera I’d probably ever held in my hands.
Surely time to sell everything else and begin a happily married life (em, albeit a polygamous one!) with the Asahi sisters.
But of course the story(ies) didn’t end there.
From my photostream in Flickr, it appears it wasn’t long before I bought a Pentax MX (which I never got on with) then about a month later an MZ-5N.
Goodness, what was I thinking!
I mean the MZ-5N is an excellent choice as a very late film era Pentax K mount body, with great handling, light weight and of course compatibility with decades of fine K series lenses – and older M42 lenses with a simple adapter.
But it’s in many ways the antithesis of the S1a, with a poky viewfinder, plasticky build, very automated function, and bulbous bland looks.
This is part of the point here with this series of posts, how quickly we can change our direction and apparent requirements by spinning ourselves a different story.
And when I was at the height (or in the depths, depending on your perspective, or the story you tell yourself) of camera accumulation, I managed to turn a blind eye to how many I had.
As well as individual stories about each camera, and why I had to have it, I was interweaving other wider reaching stories to justify the growing collection.
Like “camera prices are going up, I won’t lose any money”.
And “once I’ve fully tested each and every camera I can finally make an informed decision about the two or three I’ll keep and sell all the rest” (which I did kind of do eventually, years later, keeping a Spotmatic F and Contax 139 Quartz only).
And “other people’s habits are far more expensive and destructive, like drinking, smoking and gambling – camera collecting is harmless and very affordable!”
I’m glad that relentless collecting phase is over, even though it did let me experience a wide range of cameras and hone down to what I really loved most.
How about you? What kind of stories have you told yourself to justify acquiring certain cameras?
As always, please share your thoughts below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).
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