3:26:13 Camera-rama

I take pictures with manual film cameras, free of autopilot features I don't need to capture images. Which I meditatively do.

I now have in my possession six cameras. In an ideal world I would have one camera for all the pictures I'd conceivably want to take. Yes, for the photographer with very limited funds, there is one camera. Yes, for the photographer who has one type of subject, there is probably also one camera. But for me it's been mostly an adventure, discovering the large subjects (landscapes and urbanscapes); moving subjects (street shots and birds on the wing); and portrait shots of people. Not surprisingly, no one camera is best for that variety.

Six years ago, when I took up photography, resisting the lure of digital photography, intrigued by the possibility of taking black and white photographs that could be enlarged to poster-sized prints, I bought a used medium-format twin lens reflex camera, a Yashicamat 124, possibly 30+ years old, surely based on technology reaching back to the 1930s.


Those initial explorations of composed, mostly static, subjects, however, in time came to merge with a desire to explore motion. So I ventured off into the film world of 35 mm. Portable cameras, more likely pocketable, action-oriented, on-the-fly street shooters.

So from two medium-format cameras (one gets 12 shots a roll, another but 8) to my half-frame camera that gets a staggering 72 shots out of a roll of 35 mm film, I have a range of camera choices.

I realize I'm justifying six different cameras to take pictures; I wouldn't have to do this if I stated at the outset that I was a mere collector of camera technology.

But the overriding reason I have six camera is pretty straightforward: Fine, used film cameras are very cheap, compared to what their original owners paid decades ago. The shift to digital (and that includes virtually all professionals) led to a glut of used equipment on the market. The challenge is to sort out what's usable, what's nearly good as new, from what is not.

So, yes, I can afford six cameras--and probably more. I only wish the time to shoot them were likewise available!

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The Cat at Light's End

Read Charlie Dickinson's story collection, The Cat at Light's End, as an ebook in these downloadable formats:

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