While we were vacationing in Corolla on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, some of our friends mentioned “all those cameras you brought.” I had taken four. My wife chimes in with “That’s nothing! You should see all the cameras he has! How many cameras do you have, anyway?”
Uh oh. This was a critical moment. It is critical because I didn’t really know, but also because it could signal a breaking point. Maybe the last camera was one too many. Maybe it cost too much. Then mrs. Outspoken started counting them out generically. Four here, the two you travel with, there’s a few others in the cabinet…..
I spoke up – “It’s about fourteen – I think”. FOURTEEN! That was the reaction from friends, but M.O. didn’t react. I started naming them off – The four here, the twin Maxxum’s, The AE-1P, The Bronica, the Uniflex, the Diana, the Zeiss, the two 110 cameras, the Minolta Hi-Matic, three point-and-shoots (which i argued may not count because I got them in a combined lot and I may not use them – but I still have them) , the Tower 7, the Instamatic, and an older Panasonic Digital. I had just thrown out a dead Yaschica G35. Twenty Cameras. And I picked up a Holga today (with some rolls of 120 film – which i what i really wanted). Twenty-one. Scratch that – twenty-two cameras; I just found the Polaroid Swinger that I already intend to sell – it’s not pictured.
“How many can you use at one time?” Technically two, as I often walk with two cameras, but I used the example of this trip: one for color, one for black & white, a medium format, and the underwater camera. I could add a point-and-shoot. So easily five on a big trip if I wanted, especially since I like shooting different film stocks.
I realized I hadn’t even run a roll of film through some of these yet, so it got me thinking about the plans for the rest of the year. Maybe I could shoot one camera per week, get down to the ones I really enjoy shooting, and sell the rest. That could be cool. Then I’d have a rather stable platform to evaluate different film stocks.
I started thinking about lenses. How many lenses do I have? I counted twenty-two. Plus about five teleconverters and an extension tube. As I kid, one of the amazing things about the SLR I always dreamed of having was all those lenses. Close-ups, wide angles, telephotos, zooms! The Sears and JC Penny catalogs were filled with these magnificent lenses, many of which sold for more than some used cars in my area of West Virginia.
Then filters – how many of those do I have? I could use one lens a week. I could start experimenting with filters, since I rarely have used them. I remember reading in The Negative that Ansel Adams used them a lot, and i once had a book called The Making of 40 Photographs by Ansel Adams that I sold not too long ago. I just ordered a new copy to guide some filter experimentation. Luckily most of my best filters are 58mm and fit my f1.2 Canon lens, and I’ve got most of them covered for the 52mm Canon FD lenses. Not much in the way of 55mm filters for the Maxxums yet.
I’m a collector. I admit it. Occasionally I get too much of something, and right now I feel like I’m getting a little cluttered with my cameras. I’ve also made a few stupid mistakes this last month when switching cameras. So I’m going to shoot them, figure out which ones I really like, and sell the rest. Same with the lenses and filters. Well, maybe not the filters – other than some UV filters and oddball sizes. I’ll shoot with them, learn about them, incorporate some into my regular shooting I hope, but they don’t take up much space and eventually I may want to use that one filter. Plus I still don’t have any FD lenses longer than 205 mm.
Don’t expect me to get down to two or three cameras though; Mrs. Outspoken is still supportive. A couple days after the initial conversation we were in an antique shop to avoid the rain and she said “Did you see the cameras up front?” She does want me to get down to single digits. So sometime soon I need to get down to nine cameras. 🙂