I’ll probably be doing a few of these posts when I think of a batch of interesting and quirky cameras that I find desirable.
I don’t go for the most expensive, or the highest quality, or the rarest prototypes or anything like that – these are cameras that I simply want to own because they are great to use, have a special feature, are beautiful to look at, or historically significant. Crucially though, I try to focus on cameras that are actually usable, rather than buying them to sit on a shelf. Sometimes there are exceptions, but I promise to repent by flogging myself with birch rods at sunrise for a week if I buy them. Sometimes I even want to purposefully buy a battered camera, so I can use it without worrying.
The original SLR. No frills, just shoots and feels great doing it. Read my review from a while back to find out why I like it so much. They can get a bit collectible depending on what serial number and accessories you want, but a standard FTn will set you back about £100-150, so not crazy money. I really want a battered one with the F-36 motor drive though.
Rolleicord Art Deco:
Just look at it. I dare you to not want one immediately. As basic as a TLR gets, but oozes style, and has an uncoated lens for a classic look to the images. Really nice ones go for around £250-300, but a normal user with a bit of wear will be around £150.
The first ever commercially sold 35mm SLR, from 1936, which is of quite interesting historical significance to nerds like me, and also they look absolutely beautiful. They’re not terribly expensive either, with decent looking examples selling for around the £150 mark
An underrated collectors piece in my opinion. Produced in various models from 1929 to 1934, they are the very first in the long line of still-produced Rolleiflex TLR cameras. Quite basic functionally, they are great looking things which are still usable if you’re willing to fiddle around a bit with 620 film. They only go for about £60-80 at the minute, so try find one of these before people realise the collectible value I’d say.
Voigtlander Bessa R3M:
I’d use this a hell of a lot if I had one. A 1:1 finder means you can shoot with both eyes open with a 50mm lens (or longer) and it’s pretty modern, so reliability should be great. There’s also the R3A with the option of aperture priority if you’re feeling lazy. I’d like one with a nice uncoated Zeiss Sonnar. Mmmm. Price is about £350-400 for a nice body.
Kodak Bantam Special:
A freaking amazing looking 1940’s art-deco folding clamshell camera with a 45mm f/2 lens. The only downsides are that it uses waaay out-of-production 828 film, and they’re going for about £300. One of the few cameras on my list that is sadly not usable anymore. Rumour has it the japanese can convert them to 35mm…
‘The Brick’. As made famous by the kid who gets frozen by the Basilisk in Harry Potter, they look funky in black with the exposed gearing, but so much better in the uncommon Tan version. The good news is that they’re plentiful and cheap, going for about £30-40.
When you want to be a superstar ’60s photographer, you have to shoot one of these. The older chrome lenses are sadly getting a bit unreliable, as parts are no loner available, but get a good one with a modern lens and they are the Rolls Royce of medium format. Expect to spend at least £500 on a nice one.
Got, Got, Want…
So far, I’ve managed to grab myself the Hasselblad, Rolleiflex and Rolleicord. I had the Nikon F, but why I sold it is beyond me… I need another…soon! Another list full of things I can’t have is sure to be just around the corner I’m sure.
Until then, keep an eye on the shop, and the Facebook to see what interestingness we come across!
Kine Exakta: nationalmediamuseum.org.uk
Nikon F: Unable to locate source, found via Pinterest
Rolleicord and Kodak Bantam: liveauctioneers.com
Rolleiflex Original: ssplprints.com
Argus C3: Wikipedia.org
Hasselblad 500CM: simonjamesonweston.wordpress.com