Why do we collect gear?
First, my apologies to those of you who take offense to collecting gear. I have heard the arguments about how collecting is a waste of time and money, that "real photographers" don't collect camera equipment, all you need is one camera and one lens, and that a camera is just a box that operates a shutter. This thread is meant for those of us who own more than one camera and aren't afraid to admit it.
Why do some of us collect gear? I ask myself this question usually right after pressing the "buy now" or "submit order" buttons when purchasing some new-to-me camera or lens. After some thought I came up with a few reasons why I collect camera equipment.
As a teenager (a little over 25 years ago ) I remember becoming obsessed with photography. From shooting pictures to developing my TriX in the high school lab, I was hooked. I remember reading about all those "fabulous" 35mm cameras in magazines. Maybe it was the workmanship of the equipment, the marketing, the prohibitive high cost of buying anything (especially Nikon, Zeiss, or Leica stuff) that drew my attention.
I now believe that I associate photography and camera equipment as a positive, non-stressfull time in my youthful years. Collecting equipment equates to collecting positive memories. I remember photojournalists back then using the Nikon F2 and F3. As an apprentice back then I could only barely afford an FM2 and two lenses. I was thrilled when I purchased from a photojournalist a severly used and battered F3 which I still have today. It was a backup for my FM2 and saw even more action with me in the mid 80's.
I believe that camera equipment brings back not only great memories of a personal era of hapiness for me, but it is also amazing to buy and use equipment that was used by the old pros of the 1940's and 50's. Just imagine what amazing images were taken with these cameras and lenses! I hope to get a useable old Leica screwmount rangefinder and lens in the near future!
Cameras and lenses are artists tools. Isn't there a museum somewhere that still displays the brushes and tools used by the old masters like Rembrant, DaVinci and Picasso? People collect paintings and photographs. Why not collect and display the tools that were used to create these masterpieces? Why not use these tools (cameras and lenses) to create new masterpieces?
Each camera has its own history, its own soul. Each one of my cameras inspires me in a different way to shoot different images. Each one puts me in a different mood much like looking through a different lens gives me a different perspective of a given subject.
That's part of my twisted take on collecting, or why I'm not afraid to admit I'm a gearhead. Why do you collect gear?
Because I have a sickness. Grin.
The tiny little word "use" in my opinion makes a huge difference in the agendas of people who accumulate more than one camera (let's avoid the term "collector" so far).
Personally, I have 2 SLRs and 1 RF in 35mm, and in 120 I have a Brownie, a TLR, and a bakelite folder. Hardly a collection, but nonetheless more variety and memorabilia than the average point and shooter. However, all of these cameras work, and all of these help me realize different artistic intent (yeah, right, big A-word, but I digress...).
For me, having all these different cameras is mostly a function of wanting to try all sorts of different types of camera. I wanted to know if I prefer a pentaprism to an RF, a WLF to a eyelevel one, etc. The answer is sadly that I love them all, for different reasons.
If I were to collect cameras for another purpose than using them, then I think it should be for some kind of historical purpose, assuming that I would ever be someone relevant enough to have other people care about my so-called collection. Let's just assume that I have a fabulous trove of historical cameras, and that I'm bitchin' cool, so that it's worth having a museum to my name with my gear in it (cf. the Sherman Hines museum in Liverpool, Nova Scotia). I don't think it would necessarily matter that I had early as well as late serial numbers Leica M3; what would matter would be that I have a significant and variegated array of cameras in order to explain to the young ones how it was in the olden days. The cameras don't always have to work, they just have to be useful for illustration and explanations.
The one thing I don't ever feel like doing is keeping anally a collection of mint Leicas under UV glass, organized by serial numbers, with "mint" accessories in their original boxes, the acme of such collection would be an unopened box, while I wait for their value to increase. That's just at the level of comics figurines collectors who keep everything in the original plastic wrapping. Pathetic, useless, and also meaningless.
Using film since before it was hip.
"One of the most singular characters of the hyposulphites, is the property their solutions possess of dissolving muriate of silver and retaining it in considerable quantity in permanent solution" — Sir John Frederick William Herschel, "On the Hyposulphurous Acid and its Compounds." The Edinburgh Philosophical Journal
, Vol. 1 (8 Jan. 1819): 8-29. p. 11
My APUG Portfolio
In all honesty, with the exception of maybe a MF or two, I've stopped collecting gear.
I have a ton of both manual and AF SLRs in 35mm format. I also have RF's (both original Nikons and Cosina R2S's) etc.
I suppose I could sell some of the stuff I have - but why bother? The prices I got them at "sucked" and the prices I could sell them for "suck even more"!
I like the collection of film gear I have because, so long as it's "working right", whenever I throw a roll of film in it - I will get the best pic possible given the gear/film relationship.
What I have now is what I use now. A Canonet 28, Argus C3 (2), Agfa Billy, and Nikon FE. In addition to these, I have a Meopta Flexaret that seems to be beyond repair (at least for me) and an old box Brownie that I'm turning into a pinhole camera (perpetually). I'm looking to get one more user camera (a screwmount rangefinder of some kind) and then I'm done for quite some time. That is until I go selling all this stuff to fund a Leica M.
No idea what's going to happen next, but I'm hoping it involves being wrist deep in chemicals come the weekend.
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I don't collect equipment-it collects me. You don't even want to know what I just bought....yup- way over the top...
Well, I do have an odd reason: occasional columns in Shutterbug magazine on vintage gear. If it's not too expensive I can make a profit on it by writing about it...
Speaking of writing, my copy of Amateur Photographer was somewhat lacking on the back page this week. Is this a permanent change?
Originally Posted by Roger Hicks
"People who say things won't work are a dime a dozen. People who figure out how to make things work are worth a fortune" - Dave Rat.
i've never been able to collect as i've never had the money
i've only bought what i actually needed and use and i've come to believe that good technique far outweighs any spurious advantage of new equipment
Im not collecting gear, honest. Its breeding in the corners of my cupboard, it must be, realy
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Technology distinquishable from magic is insufficiently developed