The Joy of Old Gear

I'm on a first name basis with most of the people who work behind the counter at my local camera shop. They do almost all of my color processing and scanning and some of my black and white stuff. I feel I'm lucky to live in a town where there is still a Mom & Pop camera shop, so I give them all the business I can.

One of the young guys who works there, asked some weeks ago, why I don't just list all of my old film cameras and lenses on eBay and take the proceeds and buy a really nice, new DSLR or mirrorless digital camera? Truth is, listing all of my old Nikons, Canons, Leicas and Hasselblad on eBay and selling them at a reasonable listing price would indeed net me enough to buy one very good digital kit. And as mouth watering as that new Nikon D810 or Leica Monochrom looks, I wouldn't have half the fun I've had shooting analog photography relics.

I love the hunt of finding an old camera, either on eBay, Craigslist or at a photography swap meet or antique shop. I've even found a few in the trade-in case at the above mentioned camera shop. I enjoy learning how these old cameras work. Some are intuitive, some far from it. It's wonderful to live in an age where you can Google up the owner's manual of cameras made over six decades ago.

There's something very wonderful about the whole process of shooting film. Loading, setting controls, metering, focusing. In a world where everything moves pretty fast, old gear slows you down.

I love the sound old cameras make. Film advancing over metal sprockets, gears and spools. The distinctive sound of cloth, foil or metal shutter curtains. 

Advancing film, rewinding film. Setting film speed. Sliding the little cardboard end flap from film boxes into the memo holder on the backs of some cameras. Mounting and indexing lenses. Buttons, levers, knobs, self timers, frame line selectors...ahhhh.

I explained to the young man behind the counter that shooting film in old cameras is just like the people who prefer to drive old muscle cars or classic sports cars over newer and more dependable Civics or Corollas. The attraction? Joy. Pure joy.