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Inaugural Camera Confessional

Camera ConfessionalI refer the reader to post #2 of this here blog, where your humble photographer friend asked: “Will writing about camera gear allow me to more easily say goodbye to under-used equipment or cause me to seek out new items for future blog posts?” I think I knew at the time I was deluding myself to even entertain the notion that this site would change my camera purchasing habits.  But on top of this, I have failed to share with you, dear readers, the fruits of my itchy ebay finger. So I have let the blog down in two ways.

So, as a way of confession, if not compensation, here is the list of camera-related purchases I have made in the two months this site has been up:

Leica Summaron 35mm F2.8 lens (**** S E) – Very happy with this purchase, and I note the lens is receiving a surge in reputation. Remember this is a contemporary of the legendary 8-element summicron, but was designed with a more modest aperture. Rendering is sublime. I only wish i had the M2 version, as the M3 version’s goggles are ugly, cumbersome and render the lens unusable on non leica bodies. More on this lens in my upcoming post ‘Why a Man Needs Five 35s’.

Pair of Yashica T3 Super Ds for spares (*** S E) – Purchased for hacking out the waist-level superscope finders.  Have removed the finder assembly from one of them. Might leave the second one to produce a step-by-step guide.

Epson R-D1 (**** S P E) – What a camera! I don’t mind the crop factor, it’s just a shame this was never updated with a few more megapixels and a higher resolution LCD. The ergonomics are a treat, the viewfinder is to die for. I got a bargain on a poorly presented eBay auction. I’ve sold not one, but two of these in the past, but the price alone tempted me back for another quick fling, and it is satisfying.

Olympus 35SP (** S P E) – It’s the lens, stupid. It’s fast, it’s a smidgen wide of normal. The camera is perennially described as a ‘poor man’s Leica’, but it can do things no M can (centre-weighted or spot metering, flash sync at all speeds). If this had a red dot it would go for 10 or 20 times of what the Oly demands. I got a good price, but only two stars awarded as this example suffers from some distracting viewfinder artefacts.

Contax T2 & Contax 167MT – single auction (TBC – not sure T2 meter is working correctly – S E) – Bought as a pair because the auction went for way less than a T2 normally would alone.  These cameras might be returned if I can’t confirm the meter is accurate.

10 x Kodak Ektar 120 (*** N O) – My go-to choice for MF shooting in good light.

10 x Impossible Project Type 100 Chocolate (** N O) – Out of date film is the only way I can afford Impossible Project products! This was a big gamble for 100 shots, but early signs are very, very positive.  The film produces tones to which online reproductions cannot do justice.

3 x Hotshoe Bubble Spirit Levels (**** N E) – Handy hotshot covers that double as questionably accurate spirit levels, and that will also be used to mount my homemade waist level finder (see Yashica T3, above).

Nikon 35mm f2 AF-D (*** S P E) – I’ve sometimes asked myself what I’d collect if I was a true collector (as opposed to a reluctant, accidental, lily-livered one). A strong contender would be 35mm f2 lenses – all makes, all mounts, all vintages.  They are all desirable, a magnificent combination of wide-angle, fast aperture, moderate size, and high utility. This example was cheaper than most on eBay as the aperture lock had been cemented shut! 15 minutes with a small flat screwdriver sorted that out.

Urban Explorer Mini Messenger bag (***** S F) – Bought from an RFF member, I’ve given this five stars because a) it was cheap and b) it has temporarily cured my Domke lust.

Contax T (**** S E) – I didn’t think I’d ever find a camera that could out XA the Oly XA, but here it is: a quality piece of compact camera with 38mm T* lens, aperture priority, manual focussing, decent viewfinder, and exposure compensation via the easily accessed film speed dial. It is tiny.  It is solid.  I need to go shoot with this bad boy, sharpish.

YASHICA ML135 2.8C LENS (***** S E) – A clean example of a half-decent lens that will hopefully get me using my Contax SLRs little in the future. Price: £8. Even if I use this for practicing my lens element cleaning technique or weighing down my loose contact sheets, it will be good value.

FUJITA 66 Camera with 52mm, 75mm, 150mm lenses (***** S E) – What’s the cheapest you’d expect to find a 6×6 SLR system with 52mm, 80mm and 150mm lenses?  No, lower.  Guess again.  Still cold.  I give up.  Think of a number.  Half it.  Half it again. Take away £23.  Bingo (if you started with £400).  Four stars on reputation and condition.  Could be upgraded if the thing performs.

Vanguard Nivelo 204BK Tripod (*** N E) – This is a little miracle, and will probably be the subject of a future blog post.  It’s a tiny, versatile tripod for small cameras.  I don’t buy much of value new, but this is a rare exception.

That list is, by any stretch of the imagination a splurge, a spree, an excess, a materialistic intemperance. In my defence, I think sale of gear has easily matched purchases in the same period, having sold three Leicas, an LX3, and a couple of telephoto lenses.

I will try to make this a monthly post, an attempt to keep on top of things.  I’d also like to invite other photographers to enter my confession booth.  It would be wrong to suffer the burden of over-indulgence alone.

N – bought new
S – bought secondhand
P – item which I’d previously owned and then sold
E – eBay purchase
O – bought from an online retailer
F – bought from online forum etc
R – bought from a shop, a physical retailer

Bargain star rating out of five:
* – you mug, you’ve been had
** – over the odds, or full retail, must try harder
*** – par for the course, a fair deal
**** – eye for a deal, could sell for a tidy profit tomorrow
***** – Del Boy skills, “This time next year…”

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