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A new ‘leader’, thrice purchased

I have bought dozens of cameras in the last ten years, but here are the camera models I have bought twice:

  • Olympus XA – A design classic, a compact gem.  I dropped my first one in berlin, and the shutter wouldn’t close until the clamshell was shut. The replacement’s RF patch is quite weak, which is a shame.
  • Contax 139 – This was my first serious camera, a birthday gift in 2001, and probably the camera I will hold on to the longest.  But it did develop a slight problem with the lever wind, whereby if fails to rest neatly in the ‘ready’ position just away from the body.  I bought a second beater body with a view to using it as a parts donor, but after hacking my way under the top plate, I decided I wasn’t brave enough to attempt the same on the valued body.
  • Contax Aria – This was my main camera for a couple of years around 2003-2004, but was sold when I moved over to rangefinders.  I recently found a beat-up example on the cheap, and couldn’t resist, as I’ve still got a few Zeiss primes that deserve to be aired once in a while, and the Aria is a mighty nice way to use them.
  • Leica M8 – Technically these were slightly different cameras. I bought a black ‘fully upgraded’ M8u as a straight swap for my well-travelled silver M8.
  • Konica Hexar AF – Technically this was the exact same camera, bought twice!  I sold it to a member of, and a couple of years later when selling him a Voigtlander Bessa plus lens, I took the Hexar back as a trade!  It is truly unique, with that silent shutter.
Empire State from the Rockefeller

For me the R-D1 will always be New York. I took the Epson the first time I visited the city.

And the new leader, if you can call it that, the camera I have now bought three examples of:

  • Epson R-D1 – I had two at the same time for a while, my thinking being that I would walk around with a 21 on one, a 35 on the other, but the method was too clumsy.  I sold the ‘good’ one, and kept the ‘problem’ one, which went to the states twice for adjustment before being sold.  At that time I had the M8, and its image quality at low ISO meant the Epson was under used.  But I miss those ergonomics.  And that finder.  And I miss shooting with the thing.  But buying one a third time is very counter-intuitive when I’m thinking of moving to making and selling reasonably large prints. And doubly counter-intuitive when I’ve been coveting an X100 since they were announced!  Still…I’ve learned to not attempt to explain my photographic purchase instincts.  I’ll enjoy the Epson.



  1. clear01 wrote:

    I know exactly what you mean. I recently bought a mint condition M8 and before that a mint R-D1. It’s hard to justify both, but the R-D1 is my second. I don’t know if I’ll ever find another good one. On the other hand the M8 is magic at low iso.
    I may hang on to it, but with the M8 I’m afraid it will sit in my closet.
    BTW, I’ve had a Konica Hexar AF, excellent camera. If I come across another one at a decent price, I’ll probably buy another as well.

    Tuesday, July 19, 2011 at 23:42 | Permalink
  2. Harrison Cronbi wrote:

    Whoops…another one to add to the ‘twice’ list. Just picked up an Olympus 35SP for a good price. They’ve rocketed up in value since I sold mine, and rightly so – it’s a great camera.

    CLEAR01 – The M8/R-D1 duality is a tough one. Strangely, for the older camera, I prefer the Epson at high ISOs. The quality seems to break down in a nicer way. But that M8 per-pixel sharpness at 160 is something special.

    Thursday, July 21, 2011 at 15:13 | Permalink
  3. clear01 wrote:

    Congrats on the Olympus 35SP. I wasn’t too familiar with this camera but looking at the specs it seems very nice. I don’t do 35mm much but when I do, I have my trusty Konica Auto S3. I will probably keep this camera as long as I can. A true classic and a crazy sharp lens.
    On a sad note, I’ve decided to sell the R-D1 to help fund a leica 35mm summicron v4. It makes my stomach hurt just thinking about it but it seems like the right thing to do. I’m trying to use one camera for one year and the M8 appears to be the one I’m going with. The summicron isn’t the fastest lens in world but I have CV 40 1.4 for low light situations. We’ll see how it goes.
    BTW, great blog !

    Monday, July 25, 2011 at 19:58 | Permalink
  4. Harrison Cronbi wrote:

    Thanks for the comments, Clear01!

    The 35SP is similar in philosophy and heritage to your S3 (I’m a big fan of Hexanon lenses, would like to try the S3 one day), maybe a little larger, with a marginally longer lens, fuller manual control, and a spot meter.

    Commiserations of the departure of your Epson, but with the M8 and such a quality 35 lens on the way (hopefully you find one…prices are going up up up) you won’t miss it too much.

    Tuesday, July 26, 2011 at 11:48 | Permalink

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