First an unrelated comment: I started this blog over ten years ago, and this is the 4,000 post. I’m amazed I’ve been able to keep it up.
Back to the topic I’ve never been a collector. Until I started collecting cameras I had never collected anything. But there’s something about cameras, particularly older cameras that fascinates me. I don’t buy cameras because I think they’ll make my photographs any better. I occasionally buy a camera because because I feel I need it take on a new challenge. For example, about a year ago I bought a camera that had fast autofocus, high burst rate, accurate tracking. I bought this with a 150-600 lens because I wanted to try bird photography and I felt that I didn’t have a camera/lens combination that would be able to do this. But I know that most of cameras I purchase will not make my photography one iota better.
But this is rare. I generally by used, older film and digital cameras because I just like them. I like the brass and the chrome, I like the way they feel, the sound of the shutter, all the buttons and dials etc. I’m not the kind of collector who just likes the way something looks and doesn’t actually use it for its original purpose. I like my cameras to work (how else would I be able to figure out what all the buttons and dials do), but I’m not too fussed about how they look.
I recently came across an article on Casual Photophile that I found quite interesting. It’s titled “It’s Okay to Like Cameras More Than You Like Photography“. I wouldn’t entirely agree with him. In my case it’s more like “I like cameras as much as I like photography”, but I can see where he’s coming from.
In the article he says:
People sometimes ask me what I do for work. Good question. What is my job at Casual Photophile. Author, editor, founder, photographer; these apply, sure. But let’s be honest. It’s more accurate when I attach my name to the job title that I invented when I started this site. If I’m anything at all, I’m a Professional Camera Liker.
But now and then I get the impression that, for some people, this isn’t enough. You see it in the comments here on occasion. But the tension between “craft” and “collecting” is most apparent in the wider online world, on places like Instagram and YouTube, where it’s easy to stumble into arguments between those who identify as photo-centric and those who identify as camera-centric within the hobby/profession of photography.
The whole conflict is kind of pointless, but it’s also prevalent enough that, here I am, writing an article about it.
To start, let me state my position: I like cameras more than I like photos. I can hear the collective gasp!
But I’m not alone. Plenty of my readers simply love playing with cameras. We love the feel of them, the noises they make, the history of the machines and the people who made them. We stare into the crystal depths of the 55mm F/1.2 Nikkor, lost in the dusky innards of the optical assembly which we know, because we care about things like that, is a double Gauss design comprised of seven elements in five groups.
I must say that I agree.
Above a few of my much larger camera collection: Rolleiflex Automat B (MX-EVS in North America); Nikon D80, Vest Pocket Kodak, Olympus 35RC, Leica 1a, Olympus Stylus Epic, Pentax Auto 110.