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January 20, 2010


I have two current loves. One is the Rollei 35S. Small and solid, it's built like a metal brick - literally; it's possibly the least ergonomic piece of equipment I've owned. It's quirky and a little odd to use, with its scale focusing, retractable lens left-hand winder. It's also joy to use, and it's my coat-pocket camera, always with me.

My other love you already mentioned: the Pentax 67. No, you're not discreet or unobtrusive. Yes, it really is a good street camera. Especially if you use a waist-level finder instead of the prism finder (that hunk of glass alone is almost a third of the camera weight).

What they have in common, I think, is a sense of being very solid, precise and reliable. And they're anything but bland; both cameras ooze personality, and this is amplified by the use of film, which adds its own signature to the results, depending on the film and development.

I'm not close to your number of cameras, but I keep going. Two of them have been used Pentax Spotmatics. I just ran them down that last bit. I should have bought a K1000. Still regret I never did. Most loved is probably my Nikon FM2 besides my Pentaxes.

Pentax SV (first slr, bought 1977)
Chinon CE4
Mamaiya 645
Pentax Spotmatic
Pentax Spotmatic
Canon demi EE17
Nikon FM2n
Hasselblad 500C
Hasselblad 500CM
Nikon F60
Nikon D80
Nikon D200
Olympus E-P1

Great post, Gordon. That photo really gave me a big smile when I saw it. :-) I'll always remember my first love, a Minolta SRT-101. Simplicity at its finest. One lollipop, one stick, no frills. I've since fallen in love with a recent acquisition, a Leica M6. Again, simplicity, quietness, and gestalt. It just gets out of the way and lets me take pictures my way.

Way to get two of the most diametrically opposed cameras ever in the same post. I understand the point how some cameras work for you and some don't.

I'm with Paul on the SRT-101. It wasn't my first camera (that was a Minolta SR7- which like Gordon's Canon rangefinder had a meter built into the body but did not meter through the lens). I used the SRT-101 exclusively for about 10 years in the 70s and early eighties and looking back at the negatives from that camera, I am always suprised at how good it was. Somewhere along the way I switched to Pentax, and still shoot regularly with my small and simple MX.

My loves...

  • Pentax ME (my first real camera)
  • Contax 137MD (oh, those lenses..)
  • Olympus XA (my spy camera)
  • Fuji F10 (my only true digital love...)

I've had a ton of other cameras over the years, but those are the ones that immediately come to mind. I'm still trying to reproduce the shots from those cameras, years later. My current stable (Pentax K-7 and Panny TS-1) are technically great cameras, but they don't evoke the same emotions. That said, I hear there's an LX-3 successor coming out soon, and the m4/3 bodies are looking more interesting by the day ...

Must be that I am a little younger. My favorite and first good camera was the Olympus OM-2, with the fabulous 50/1.4 lens. Another camera I had a love afair with was Praktisix with a 180 f2.8 Sonnar but the film transport kept failing. Now recently bought a Leica M6 and a Hasselblad 553 ELX, what a beauty.

Pentax LX. It fits my hands just right, never fights a lens, and the original owner's monogram below the film advance lever reminds me that it used to work for a living.

My favorites are my half frame Olympus VF and reflex cameras, still used for most of my photography. My great regret is selling my Miranda D, my first SLR in the early 70's. It had interchangeable finders and screens and my first purchase for it was a waist level finder and plain matte screen. Even today I can't get along with split wedge and microprism focusing screens and all my OM-1's are outfitted with matte screens. Just purchased a DSLR March of 2009, an E-410 (with a simple adapter I can use all my OM Zuiko glass on it) but the extra bright screen is marginal for manual focus and I long again for just a matte screen with no markings what so ever on the screen. So like you, I much enjoy my film cameras more and now must retire to the darkroom to soup a couple of rolls of B&W.

In 1972, while travelling (local buses and hitch-hiking) through East Africa, I bought my first "real" camera, a Nikkormat FTN with a 50mm lens. Over the next few years it got bounced around in springless vehicles, stuffed in the bottom of a rucksack that was then tossed atop a bus in Peru, and only marginally protected from the salt spray while kayaking on the west coast of BC. I learned to see what the lens saw, and could focus and set aperature and shutter speed to achieve what I saw in my mind within moments. Eventually the salt spray got to it, and I moved on to a Nikon FE. And then, of course, came digital.
Several years ago I bought another old Nikkormat and although I used it only a couple of times, it felt "right" in my hands. Maybe I'll get it out again!

I like articles like this one, Gordon, and I really enjoyed yours! I would have loved to have one of the old Canon rangefinders - a 7 or a Canon P.

As for me, my all-time favorite piece of photo machinery is the Leica IIIc I had in the 70's (btw, I'm turning 60 next week ;-)

Here's a little post I did for my blog about it: http://tinyurl.com/y8dljma

I have had a few cameras I loved using:
Minolta CLE
Minolta 7s rangefinder
Minolta XD11
I now shoot a Canon 5DII which I don't mind but no real affection for. As a street camera with a huge 24-70 f2.8 on it I get a surprising reaction, people come up tome asking for me to take their picture, http://roberthoehne.com/b2evolution/index.php/2010/01/27/australia_day_2010_at_the_entrance. This never happens when I take out any other small or average sized camera.
Size does matter.

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