Why do people collect film cameras?

Why do we collect cameras?  Like many things, it is both simple and complex.

Camera Collecting is Simply Fun

How do you define fun?  Ask a kid, what does he or she say?

When I was older than 5 but less than 10 years old, I would play “fort” with my friends in Skokie, Illinois.  We played in the empty lots or prairies of Skokie digging holes, making little tunnels, covering our holes in the ground with dead tree branches all in the name of fun.  I’d come home filthy with reddish dirt all over me and my parents would tell me to take a bath.

Luckily, they never asked me why I played “fort”.  It was simply fun.

Why is the Canon Auto 35F Simply Fun?

What a sweet little camera.  Was it simply fun when I found this little camera at an alley garage sale on Chicago’s northwest side during the late summer of 2010?  Was it simply fun when I thought the camera looked familiar and later realized it was the offspring of the well regarded Canon Canonet G-III 17 that cost me $120 that same summer?  Was it fun when I purchased it for $5 not knowing if it would ever work (like many garage sale cameras, it needed batteries)?

Was it simply fun when I came to realize my Canon Auto 35F took photos every bit as good as its older brother, the Canon Canonet G-III 17?  Here’s a wonderfully crisp photo taken with the Canon Auto 35F.  Notice the lateral streaks in the pond?  They were there that day and they certainly appeared in the photo.

Canon A35F, beautiful pond

Since I am new to camera blogging I’ll borrow from others on the Internet who have come before me.  These remarks on the Canon A35F come from The Other Martin Taylor with my thanks.

The Canon A35F is an all but forgotten 70’s, consumer rangefinder.

Here’s a camera you might just find in among the plastic disc and 110 cameras at your local thrift store. For a cheap, true rangefinder experience the A35F is pretty hard to beat.

If you’re looking to begin with a film camera, you could do a lot worse than purchasing the Canon A35F.

  1. Very nice “glass” as they say.  A nice lens that gives you very good photos.
  2. Feels good.  It has a nice heft to it, made primarily of metal.
  3. Kind of manual.  You do need to focus the camera.  Sight through the rangefinder.  It will show you the aperture selected (not the shutter speed).  If there’s not enough light, you can’t take a photo, no manual override.
  4. Looks good.  It’s black and looks nice.  Really.
  5. Cheap.  I found mine for $5.  Even though I like this camera I wouldn’t purchase it for more than $10.  Why?  Because if the battery is dead, you don’t know if the camera is working.  Even after purchase you’ll need to buy a battery for $5 to test it.  Tell the seller, “I don’t know if your camera works.”.  And mean what you say.

I collect film cameras because…

Yes, it’s fun.  But the answer can be simple to complex for each person.  My various reasons for collecting cameras are:

  1. An early hobby.  When I was about 30 I was pretty interested in photography and owned one camera with 2 lenses.  It was a Nikon EM I believe.  Now I have more time and a bit more money to devote to something I enjoyed.
  2. Good machinery.  Most of my cameras are examples of good machinery that still work.
  3. Provenance.  Each camera has a story, a provenance.  I think that’s the fancy name for it.  Each camera that I purchase has its own story, and I write down those stories.  I especially enjoy Chicago area garage sales where I can chat with people, ask if they have a camera, and then tell them what kind of camera they own.
  4. Quirky interface.  Since I am part computer guy (software training), I do enjoy that each camera has an interface that I need to learn.
  5. Photos.  And yes, I actually take film photos (and a few digital).  And my film photos are becoming better and better.

 Why will you collect film cameras?

In time, people asking “What is a film camera?”, soon find themselves purchasing film cameras.  And then the fun really begins.

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