Over the years, I’ve managed to build up a fair sized collection of things. Stemming from an innate inability to let go of ‘stuff’, I continuously fail to live the zen-like lifestyle I like to think I aspire to. whether it’s badges, retro games consoles (and every version of street fighter two I can find for anything I won that has a processor), pens, magazines and on the shelf above my desk at home, cameras. I haven’t set out to ‘collect’ cameras, and each one is relatively unique, be it from a historical perspective or practical use / medium or aesthetic. Most of the camera are in use and serve a particular function. Or if they don’t ‘they’ll be useful one day’… Here’s a list of (some) of my analogue 35mm and 120mm cameras.
It’s all very hip right now to use ‘real’ film cameras, and I guess I’m typical of a breed of photographer clinging onto what may well be the last gasp of easily being able to shoot with film. There is a different discipline involved, and I recommend it to anyone who only thinks digitally when it comes to photography. There’s a different impetus on pushing that shutter button, as you know it has to count, and there’s no way of telling if a picture will be any good until it’s processed. I also believe that there’s a real physical quality to film based images, I don’t know if this is an imagined ‘false nostalgia’, but it’s almost as if there’s a spectrum of experience that defies current digital sensors in the same way that vinyl recordings hold audio frequencies either end the audible scale, I think that chemical photography includes a hidden spectrum that adds to it’s immediacy that can’t be faked with a retro filter.
Minolta Dynax 500si
My first ‘proper’ 35 mm SLR camera, which was a joint birthday / Xmas present when I first got interested in photography back in ’93. Although it might have been a bit overkill in terms or spec, it’s the camera I grew with and still used it fairly regularly until about 2007 when I inherited my first ‘D’SLR (a NIKON D70, which now belongs to my Dad). It’s still in good shape, despite the hand grip has discolored.
A Twin reflex medium format camera, similar to one reputedly once favoured by Dianne Arbus. Gifted to me in a semi functioning state, I’ve since shot a couple of rolls on it with pleasing results. it’s seen better days, and is a little temperamental, but once you get a clear shot from one of these things, nothing compares. wiki
Minolta Hi-Matic 7
After spending countless years gathering dust in my Father-in-law’s attic, I’m now the proud own of this wonderful little rangefinder. The quality of the lens is breathtaking in the right circumstances and the depth of field is fantastic. It has a rather peculiar focusing method, which doesn’t lend itself to super quick shooting, but as long as you’re not too precious when snapping with it, the results can be great. I tend to use this for people snaps, as I’m terrible at taking pictures of friends and family, but using this seems to take the pressure off, especially as I feel there’s an ‘immediacy of the moment’ that 35mm manages to capture, that can be too fleeting for the digital calculations of more modern photography.
I’ve since seem a company that refurbished rangefinders like this to make them super fancy
Another hand-me-down from a family friend who was about to list it on Ebay is quickly becoming my go-to camera when I don’t need the pin-point accuracy of my Nikon D7000. This is the only Canon camera in my rosta although I’ve gone through a few canon digital compacts, which I loved, but since owning a Nikon DSLR, the modern Canon’s never quite feel right in my hand. This analogue beauty doesn’t have this issue and I find shooting with it a consistent pleasure. wiki
LOMO Lubitel 166B
Picked up from a flea market a few years back, I only bought it because it was so cheap, and still with it’s original ‘Made in the USSR’ box and instructions. I’ve not shot anything with it as yet, but I’ve got a roll of 120 film in the fridge waiting to get exposed. wiki
This little compact got me back into using 35mm film in about 2004 after a good few years shooting with digital compacts. from the ‘shoot from the hip’ stable of LOMO cameras the novelty factor with this device is the flash, specifically the ‘colorsplash’ flash. a bit of fun, and adds a certain flourish to blurry toy camera prints.LOMO page
Polaroid 635 CL
I think I picked up this simple beauty with it’s retrograde 80’s carefree lines from a charity shop in the late 90’s – an era when Polaroid film was still being made and sold by Polaroid and smartphones looked like this.The only Polaroid I’ve owned, there’s very little to go wrong in the camera body itself, as the film included a battery. it’s very much plug ‘n’ play, provided you can still find the film. Impossible project page
I’ve got a bit of hunting to do to find any samples from the Polaroid, but will add then here when I finally recover them from an old shoebox in the attic.