What? Why?

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by dan_fromm|2, Nov 6, 2010.

  1. Two questions for all of you: What? Why?
    The late Charlie Barringer once asked me very pointedly how I justified buying the lenses I did. Charlie was a serious collector of Zeiss artifacts and what he characterized as extreme lenses. His rationale for collecting was to be able to add to knowledge. And he did. Charlie and his friend M. J. Small wrote a book, The Zeiss-Ikon Compendium, which was published by Hove. He was one of the founders of Zeiss Historica, a Zeiss fan club, and published many articles explaining Zeiss products in the club’s magazine. He bought his extreme lenses, e.g., a 44/5.6 Super Aviogon, because having them pleased him.
    I bought most of the lenses that puzzled Charlie because they could be used on my 2x3 Graphics, were good, and were quite inexpensive for what they did. In the case of poorly- or undocumented macro lenses, to find out which were fit for use and, again, because they were quite inexpensive. Boyer lenses because what documentation could be found on them was confusing and because they were very inexpensive; finding out what they were required buying them.
    So there’s my “why” and my “what.” Good and relatively inexpensive lenses to use, mainly, on my 2x3 cameras, with a whiff of adding to knowledge. I pursued lenses made by the French firm Boyer and eventually published, with Eric Beltrando, an account of the firm and its products on the French large format site.
    Now, what do you accumulate? Why do you accumulate it? If you accumulate cameras and not lenses, why not?
    Re what, I’m not asking for an inventory, I’m asking you to answer at a higher level of abstraction than a list.
  2. curiosity.
    "to find out which were fit for use", "to add to knowledge", both of those.
    One might claim artistic experimentation, but I expect gadget deficiency syndrome plays a part as well.
    I can just about see a temptation to collect sets of things, lenses or cameras or equipment, but I'm really more interested in seeing what I can do with lenses and finding out what cameras are like to use. Lenses more than cameras, but sometimes they come as a pair anyway.
    I have actually shed a few things this year, after several years of accumulating, curiosity being satisfied, and them not being the ones I want to keep.
  3. You need a reason to buy old lenses?
    First I heerd of thet. Dang!
  4. I accumulate because Rick Drawbridge keeps posting his damn pictures of beautiful cameras.
  5. I agree, that Rick Drawbridge and Louis Meluso have a lot to answer for. My first collectable was a Voigtlander Prominent, bough from the original owner, an interesting French guy who bought the camara in Djbouti back in the early fifties. I have always loved the quirky Voigtlanders, and the Prominent was at the top of my must have list.
    Since then I have accumulated hundreds of different cameras, lots of them are Voigtlanders. I mainly collect only those that can be used, so servicability is favoured over cosmetics.
    It is interesting that you knew Charlie Barringer, as I have that book, and constantly refer to it when collecting Zeiss stuff, which seems to have got out of hand as well! In an answer to your question, I first go after the camera, then set about getting as many lenses as I can for that system, the fun is in the hunt.
    Shame that the lenses for my favourite Zeiss, the Contarex, show no signs of alleviating!
  6. A simpler version of this question was posed to me years ago. Some of the reasons people collect photo equipment apply to the collecting of other things. These include trying to get things in full sets, spending more time with things rather than with people, spending time either in person or by mail/e-mail with other people who like to collect the same things, being able to afford things which were too expensive when we were younger but which we would have liked to buy then if we could have and getting back to an interest we had when we were younger but had less time for it.
    I started using mostly Konica equipment nearly forty years ago. My medium format camera was a Yashica Mat 124G. The science teacher in our High School oversaw the photography club and we got to use his 6X9 Bush Pressman, Rolleiflex 2.8E with the Schneider Xenotar, Canon FT QL with the 58/1.2 FL lens, his Contax RF, his Koni-Omegas and his Kodak Medalist. I didn't really start collecting until about 1988 when I was working from home and not at a separate office. I added many Konica and Konica compatible items and did not get interested in adding non-Konica items until several years later. Someone once told me that from what he could tell, a woman might get a pair of boots she likes and then get the same style but in another color. A man might get a sweater he likes and then get two more of the same style and color. Sometimes I like a particular lens and then try to get it in many mounts. Some of these include the Vivitar 28/2.5 Fixed Mount, 35/1.9 Fixed Mount, 55/2.8 Macro, 135/2.8 Close Focusing. If I use it enough I might want more than one of the same lens in the same mount. Let's say I have two 135/2.8 Vivitar Close Focusing lenses and I paid $75 for the first one and $50 for the second one. At that point if I see one for $25 I would be interested in it but not for more than the $50 I paid for the last one. When I already had a working Canon F-1 I really liked it so I got another one and had it overhauled too. At one time I wanted to collect every version of the mechanical Nikkormat/Nikomat. This is the urge to collect a whole set of something. I don't think I ever got every version but I had two FT2s and an FT3 overhauled. All but one of the rest work after a fashion but it is not practical to overhaul all of them. An FTN would take the same picture as an FT2. When I got a Canon EX (EE or Auto) with a 50/1.8 I immediately started looking for the 35, 95 and 125 lenses. I now have two 50/3.5 Minolta MD lenses and four 50/3.5 Minolta MC Celtic lenses. Why? I guess the low prices had some novelty and they're fun to use. Some items I get because I might need them some day for a project. These would be items like a 120/6.3 Macro Nikkor, a 150/5.6 Rodagon enlarging lens, a 60/4 Bogen Wide Angle enlarging lens or an Olympus Auto Bellows.
    For some collectors, especially young ones, there is the idea of experiencing something. When I see someone walking around on a sunny day with a Canon FD camera and a 55/1.2 Aspherical or 50/1.2 L lens, the first thing I think is that it would be a good day for a 50/1.8 FD SC. The f/1.2 lenses are, or course, much more expensive and rare even if the f/1.8 lens is also very respectable. Sometimes I will get a lens which costs very little and which turns out to be very good. This is the knowledge part. I got the Soligor 35-70/2.5-3.5 in several mounts. Each lens cost very little but performed well. The 35/3.5 Noflexar and 30/3.5 Meyer Lydith lenses cost me very little but perform very well and are fun to use. There is some satisfaction in that. I got a second Canon Bellows FL not because I was using the first one so much but because it's beautifully made and came at a very low price. I love macro gizmos so I recently added a second Vivitar Macro Focusing Teleconverter in Minolta MD mount. For $100 I wouldn't have been interested at all but for $20 I was.
    Collecting can sometimes fill a psychic "empty space" a person has. Some people call this retail therapy or GAS. Not everything we do in life has an immediate return or an immediate good consequence of any kind. Buying something can occupy some time and thought at least temporarily. There can also be an element of competition. If you have a particular odd item and someone else you know doesn't have, it can feel like you have something on him/her. I seem to have always been interested more in lenses than in cameras. A friend in High School came from a very wealthy family. We were looking at a Nikon ad in a camera magazine and saw all of those gleaming Nikkors. The friend said, somewhat dramatically, "I'd give my right arm to have all of those lenses." His parents could have bought them all in the blink of an eye. The nine or ten months I spent shooting with only a 57/1.4 Konica Hexanon and a Soligor 2X teleconverter made me want more lenses every year since. The odd thing is that even though I have a lot more lenses now, the enthusiasm of being 14 and starting out in photography with only one lens couldn't be matched again. Later, going to college, working, getting married and having a child were more important than picture taking but my interest in taking pictures and in using/collecting camera equipment has given me something I have enjoyed for a long time and still enjoy. In a few days I expect a roll of Ektachrome to come back from the lab. The film was shot at the Botanical Gardens Of NJ in Ringwood and should show the last of the colorful leaves and plants for this season. In a small way it reminds me of the first rolls of slide film I shot so many years ago. The Agfachrome CT18 went in the fabric bag to the Agfa lab in Flushing, Queens and the Kodachrome II went to the Kodak lab in Fair Lawn, NJ in a PK-36 mailer. I remember the camera and lenses I used to shoot the Ektachrome and I can't wait to see the slides.
  7. rdm


    I purchase Mostly Minolta MD lenses. Because my 1st camera, which was given to me in the seventh grade, was a Minolta x-370, And i continued to purchase lenses for that camera. I have accumulated quite a bit of MD mount lenses, and quite cheaply. I have also two x700 bodies, one was given to me and one i purchased for fifteen dollars with condition unknown. The fifteen dollar x700 works fine but the free one quit firing three days ago. I also recently purchases an x370s because it came with a Vivitar 600mm, 17-28mm, 2x-7 telaconverter and a Minolta MD-1 Motor drive, all for seventy dollars. SO yea what i use is MD because its what i have already started with, and its inexpensive to buy more, and why i don't use anything else is because i couldn't afford to build another system with the same range besides I'm already comfortable and know how to use them. And i do use all of them very often; Averaging 2 rolls a week lately
    And just thought i would mention , my white whale is the x600, if you see one for sale , let me know.
  8. Another reason I look to collect certain lenses is to have a slow and fast version of each focal length or style. Using Canon as an example I would look for fast and slow lenses in FL, FD chrome front, FD black front and New FD. I am still missing the first version of the 200/4 FD, which I would keep with my chrome front FD lenses. I wrote about slow vs. fast lenses in a CameraShopper article some years ago. Then there are various versions of the same lens and speed. An example would be 50/1.4 Nikkors. I don't think I have every sub-version but I have a pointy prong S, a round prong S, an SC, an early 'K', a late 'K', an AI and an AIS.
  9. How about just something to do: thats all:
  10. I accumulate cheap old cameras and mostly cheap old lenses. Occasionally not so cheap, but never minty museum stuff. The why is obvious: I'm crazy.
  11. After a few years of spending $2000+ for a DSLR and often $1000+ for a single lens, I find it refreshing to be able to buy old manual cameras and lenses for often an order of magnitude less money. I can impulse-buy camera equipment now, which makes it easy to indulge my curiosity about different things. I may even buy a Leica one of these days. And I actually prefer the older equipment because it's simpler, better built, can in many cases operate without batteries, has better aesthetics, and isn't cluttered up with unnecessary features. If you can frame and focus accurately, select an aperture, and trip the shutter, you've got all you really need. DOF preview, TTL metering, and a mechanism to advance the film accurately (without having to look through a red window on the back) are also helpful, but not absolutely necessary.
    My most recent collector's obsession is with early Nikkor F lenses, specifically those from about 1961 that have the focal length in cm and the distance scale only in feet. I don't know why I find these fascinating, but I do. I have six of these lenses: 2.8cm f/3.5, 3.5cm f/2.8, 5.8cm f/1.4, 10.5cm f/2.5, 13.5cm f/3.5, and 20cm f/4. Partly I just like the aesthetics of these older lenses with their mixed black and chrome finishes and their complete lack of plastic or rubber. I think Nikkor lenses (and those of most other manufacturers) have, in terms of their physical aesthetics, been on a downhill slide since the end of the 1960s.
  12. I agree with Craig, and others. Candidly, I have all the "quality" analog cameras and lenses I need to pursue photography on film, and mostly I really can't tell the difference in the images, one from another. A 135mm Takumar produces images pretty much like a 135mm Rokkor ...I'm finding I'm having much more fun, and spending a while lot less, grabbing the unusual camera, the ones that were below the radar for most of us but still capable of taking fine photographs. The Emi K's, the Ilocas, the Samocas, the Frankas; these are fun cameras to pursue, and one picks up a heap of useless information on the way. Never invite me to a cocktail party...
    As for lenses, I'm a avid collector of anything M42, good or bad. They're cheap enough, and just sometimes one finds a jewel among the dross..
  13. Well compared to some of you this might seem like nothing but I just picked up a Konica C35 in "near mint" for 7€ at a flea markey and I am thrilled but not as much as in a few days when I should receive a Fujica ST605 which happens to be the first camera I ever owned and got stolen from me in '79.
    Just having fun!
  14. I had all the Nikon line from the beginning, proper, from my beginning, as a photographer. The "F" and up to date. When I upgraded, I always traded in ( Big-big mistake)the existing one to the new version, some time even lenses. Then lasted some equipment, and the loose was more painful for lenses I liked to mach and was not available anymore. Like some of the pre Ai and AI-S lenses. Most of them primes. Then going with a crowds, buying Zoom lenses, trading in almost all of my primes. . . . Then a couple of years ago, read an article from some of the old AI and pre AI prime lenses, how good they are, in certain cases, better or the same quality optically as to days mostly plastic 1000 + dollar lenses. Then with my age, memories was coming back from the time I started photography, film development and so on and so on. My fist serious camera was a Zorkij C, a Russian Leica copy. Then, an E. German Werra camera, with two lenses. Then I left my home country and my first camera was a Nikon F, then a F2, Nikkorma, F3, FM, F90X and so on. Then full digital from the beginning of this crazy digital era. I started to have a serious sickness, "Nostalgia" and wanted to having back my first camera, the Zorkij C. Then some of my old AI lenses I liked them to mach. Then some of the old AI primes, just to check them out on my digital cameras. Then I discovered, some of those old primes and zooms as good as a to days expensive plastic zooms, and you can get them dirt cheap. Then has a craving for my most beloved and traveled camera the Nikon FA. So I bought one, then the F3, FM2, FE2, F, F2 and for a fun, the FG, EM. Old lenses, some of them famous on they time, some of them not so famous on they time. Why? Because I like the mechanical precision how those cameras and lenses was made, how they are still working to day. Going out with my D700 and mounted on the 34-134.3.5-4.5 zoom lens, instead the almost 2000 dollar 24-70/2.8, and when this image on the big screen/monitor, my friend don't believe me, I did those images with a 100 dollar lens. Going out to a social gathering, and using a 35-105 Zoom, or a 100/2.8 E cheap, (surprisingly sharp lens) and hardly have an unsharp image, and all of them sharp, contrasty in color and contrast. Sometime load a roll of Velvia or a B/W film and get out with the total manual Nikon F with an old lens, or a Nikkormat, and getting home with a lots of nice images, enjoying the camera and the photography. Or, just pick one of them from the cabinet, and play with them, admiring the precision engineering, the whole feel of them. Yes. Collecting lenses, cameras for a fun, or just to prove, some of those old lenses as good as the new plastic expensive lenses. Or, some of them has a historical value, or sentimental value.
  15. I do not consider myself to be a 'collector'. I buy cameras that I think have some intrinsic value, but that value (to me) is almost exclusively tied to it's ability to produce photographs. I don't 'collect' cameras any more than a blacksmith might 'collect' hammers, though he might have 30 or 100 of them. They are tools, if he has 100 it's because he found each and every one of them potentially useful or interesting to use. Not because he wanted to complete a set of vintage Peddinghaus hammers. For a camera example, looking over my folders I have cameras with 1-Schneider Radionar, 1- Som Berthiot, 1- Boyer Topaz, 1-Agfa Agnar, and 1- Laack Pololyt lens. I don't even care who made the bodies, except that 2 of them are somewhat odd; my bakelite Sida Turf and my all-aluminum BlocMetal.
    I used to buy exclusively Canon cameras and gear, only because my first 'real' camera was a Canon (FTb+50mm f1.4), and I was somewhat disdainful of Nikon gear (still am). These days, I like the fact that I can buy top-notch and somewhat eccentric gear for bargain prices, but my interest is in putting film in them ASAP and seeing what they can do. I do not have a display case for cameras, nor am I planning on ever getting one; my good cameras are in camera bags ready to shoot, my bad cameras are in storage bins waiting to be sold. There is some overlap, as I sell cameras that are good but I have multiple copies of, so that I can buy perhaps lesser cameras I've never tried.
  16. I do not consider myself to be a 'collector'. I buy cameras that I think have some intrinsic value, but that value (to me) is almost exclusively tied to it's ability to produce photographs. I don't 'collect' cameras any more than a blacksmith might 'collect' hammers, though he might have 30 or 100 of them. They are tools, if he has 100 it's because he found each and every one of them potentially useful or interesting to use. Not because he wanted to complete a set of vintage Peddinghaus hammers.
    I used to buy exclusively Canon cameras and gear, only because my first 'real' camera was a Canon (FTb+50mm f1.4), and I was somewhat disdainful of Nikon gear (still am). These days, I like the fact that I can buy top-notch and somewhat eccentric gear for bargain prices, but my interest is in putting film in them ASAP and seeing what they can do. I do not have a display case for cameras, nor am I planning on ever getting one; my good cameras are in camera bags ready to shoot, my bad cameras are in storage bins waiting to be sold. There is some overlap, as I sell cameras that are good but I have multiple copies of, so that I can buy perhaps lesser cameras I've never tried.
  17. My first camera was a Fujica ST-705 way back in the "70's. I started collecting Fujica lenses in the early "90's. I now have them all (except for the 1000mm ) from the 16mm fisheye tthe 600 mm tele, with stops along the way for the 85mm soft focus, 19mm wide,and 55mm macro to name a few. Couldn't stop there so now I have twenty some odd bodies , all different, including two factory cut away bodies bought four years apart from different places with sequential numbers, and a couple of the hard to find 605 II's. Then I started on the accessories. . . close up lenses, bellows, filters, system case, etc. I had a ton of fun doing it,but as one thing led to another I branched out into collecting Zeiss, Voigtlander, & Retina. Then the oddball stuff Lordomat, Adox and the list goes on. . .
    Why do I do it ? Mostly it's the thrill of the hunt and finding that elusive lens or accessory that's needed to round out the collection.
    Had a ton of fun doing it and I still shoot lot's of film. Just remember that "collecting is a disease"
  18. Cheaper than mistresses, motorcycles, cars, and boats.
  19. And your wife gets a little less upset about a new camera or lens than she would about a new mistress.
  20. I don't know, I'm just a bit mesmerized when I hold old cameras. It's appeals to all my senses and I can't really rationally describe it, other than I like them. If they don't work, that sort of turns me off. They must do what they're supposed to do. I never think of my self as mr nostalgia trip, but I like other old stuff too like vintage guitars,Hammond Organs,(model) Trains, ragtop roadsters etc. I remember reading about Carl Zeiss and thinking yeah..that's something to concentrate on, but later I realized they're all over the board; lenses and cameras. Another thing I liked early on was Graflex as I had heard about them from my Dad and thought well that's something you could concentrate on. But in the end while I have a lot of stuff, this has been more happenstance than serious collecting. I admire those who really go all out and find the rarest items in their areas be it Exaktas and Leicas. There's no real reason not to zero in and go for a specific or narrow area, but in the end I
    just like old cameras.
  21. I guess I have to take back my earlier statement about why I do this. I went to the annual photo flea market here today, I pulled my usual (show up 30 minutes before closing, as people are packing up their trunks), and walked away with waay too much crap I don't need. But I got everything at bargain prices!!!! Maybe the thrill of the hunt is a big part of it. I did pick up a mint Schneider 90mm angulon for $40, that satisfied the beast for today. The man I bought if from told me I have the same disease as he; I see it, and I just have to buy...
  22. As they say, "you can't take it with you". At some point, these collections will be sold off or inherited (and then maybe sold off---if the heirs are not that much into film). Meanwhile, we can ask ourselves what our real motivations are and consider that money has alternative uses.
  23. Every now and then I walk into a big box store to look at the latest dSLRs, to see what I'm missing (apparently, what I'm really missing is flash modes and wi-fi... who knew?). They sell 'lens cleaning kits' for about what I just paid for a top-of-the-line 1960s large format wide angle lens. Said lens will, of course, out-perform each and every 'kit' lens on those same dSLRs for sale in the box store, for $899 and up.
  24. The next wave of useless automatic cameras will wander around like a Clocky
    (see http://www.nandahome.com/faq/index.php )
    and take their own pictures.
    The appeal of old camera gear is that it does its job well with a few good basic adjustments instead of mega-mindless automation. I could go for a digital back graftable onto to a classic manual SLR, though.

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