Home Cameras/Lenses Leica Can you ever have enough cameras?

Can you ever have enough cameras?

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Hello – I’m Andrew. I’ve just published my first article on Macfilos – you can read it here – and I thought it was probably time to introduce myself, as you’ll be seeing more musings from me in the future.

I’ve been a regular reader of this excellent website for a few years now – in fact, since I purchased my first Leica, an M8, and got the dreaded ‘Leica itch’…which I’m still scratching to this day. I’ve really enjoyed keeping up-to-date with Leica news and views, either through the informative posts from our editor, Mike Evans, or indeed through posts from occasional guest contributors like me, and through the vibrant comments section.

One of the things I really like about Macfilos is the diversity of experiences and viewpoints which shine through the blog posts and comments. It’s great to have one’s own viewpoints tested or affirmed from time to time, and especially to hear from fellow readers and contributors with widely varying experiences and motivations. Macfilos is also a community of respectful and enthusiastic photographers – something which appeals greatly to me, and which it’s becoming harder and harder to find online these days, to my mind.

Community

Keeping Macfilos up-to-date with regular, timely and engaging content is no mean feat. Much of the heavy lifting falls to Mike, of course, but the truth is that this website can only get stronger as its community of readers and contributors grows and becomes more active in suggesting and creating content for us all to enjoy.

And that is one of the reasons I am writing this blog, with Mike’s encouragement, to spur on others amongst us, such as me, who are passionate about one or more of our shared interests, and who can spare a few minutes from time to time to contribute to this site.

You might well be asking yourself at this point, ‘What have I got to say on the subject which others may find interesting?’ It’s a good question – one I asked myself before putting digital pen to digital paper for the first time – and the answer, of course, is simple: your personal opinion, your unique perspective, perhaps your idiosyncratic view of our shared passion – in short, your thoughts.

For my own part, I hope to tap into my enthusiasm for Leica cameras, and my recent foray into the world of digital medium format photography, to generate occasional content which other readers will find interesting, and which will spark debate and provide enjoyment. I imagine, along the way, I’ll have to explain why I have owned, sold, regretted selling, re-purchased, and dreamt of buying, so many cameras and lenses – especially Leicas – over the past few years.

I do not profess any expert knowledge, and I would describe myself as very much a novice but enthusiastic amateur photographer, whose interests veer more towards the cameras themselves – and especially the haptics and process of taking photographs – rather than the end results. I imagine I am not alone in this regard. It would be great to hear from likeminded souls…and the not-so-likeminded too, of course.

I am based in the UK – on the South Lincolnshire border with Rutland – with a young family who patiently oblige when I ask them to pose or to stand still while I am focusing the latest lens to arrive in the post. I have an ever-patient wife who pretends to be interested in my camera comings and goings…and who surprises me regularly by asking ‘Haven’t you owned that one before?’ Or ‘Sold? I thought you’d just bought that one…’.

Great escape

I like nothing better than ‘escaping’ for an hour or two from time to time, ideally with a ‘new’ camera, to head off somewhere quiet where I can enjoy slowing down and taking a few pictures, a remarkably small proportion of which I’m pleased with. But I’m getting better. Truth be known: I’d enjoy doing it even if none of them turned out to be keepers.

I’ve always been drawn to cameras for some reason – I suspect the haptics and an appreciation of the build quality of some of the models I have been fortunate enough to own. Looking back, my fascination started in the early 1990s whilst I was training as a young reporter on my local newspaper. My ability definitely pointed towards words rather than pictures even back then, but I couldn’t help but admire (and envy) the ‘snappers’ I worked alongside.

Our newsroom at the time was often littered with Nikon FM2s and, later, Nikon D90Xs. It prompted me to buy my first ‘proper’ camera, a used but beautiful Nikon FM. A friendly freelance photographer sold me two used MD12 motor drives for peanuts – parts from which were combined to form one working version – and I was off. Nothing could stop me…apart from a lack of natural talent!

Moving onto daily newspapers after my training had finished, there were entire photographic departments to learn about, and always a kind and helpful bunch of ‘snappers’ who were keen to talk about their profession. Nikon F4S cameras were their weapons of choice, I seem to remember, and motor drives that could blast through an entire roll of 36 exposures in seconds.

Having worked as a reporter and, later, a chief reporter and then news editor, I began a career as a Royal Air Force officer in the late 90s, serving first as a public relations and communications specialist, before my career broadened into more mainstream military roles, then came full circle in my latter years. I led the RAF’s news and media operations function, including responsibility for our Mobile News Teams, whose job it was to accompany our personnel and aircraft on operations, capturing stills and footage which we could use online and for distribution to news outlets. I think maybe I was still a frustrated ‘wannabe’ photographer at this point!

How did you first get into photography? What inspired you? We (the Macfilos community) would love to hear from you: what interests you, what do you like to read about on Macfilos, why are you passionate about photography, why is the industry driving you to despair? You know the sort of thing. You can contribute either through the comments section of this website or, if we can tempt you and if this post has provided encouragement, through your own occasional guest post. That would be really great. Just drop Mike a line (at mike@macfilos.com) with your ideas and we’ll be in touch. And don’t worry too much if writing/blogging is not your forte. It’s your ideas and enthusiasm we are interested in, and there are a few of us who can help you to get your views across.

For now, enjoy your photography. And your cameras.

Andrew

33 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks Andrew. I suppose as I am just now finalising my Zoom Presentation for tonight on ‘Choosing and Using Old Leicas’ I am the wrong person to answer this question. The answer from me, as a collector, would be that you can never have enough. I have no idea how many cameras I have, but it must be around 50 or maybe more. They are mainly Leicas, but I have cameras going back to the 1890s and lenses going back to the 1850s. I first became interested in photography through my father’s Super Baldina which has featured on this site. When I got married and as a young parent I did have that much money for cameras or photography. My first ‘real camera’ was a little Rollei 35. I then switched to Nikons and used them as both film and latterly digital models for about 35 years. My first Leica was an M8, but when I retired I started to use older film Leicas as well and that has taken me down many an interesting alleyway, including writing articles about old cameras, both here and elsewhere. At this stage I find the older cameras much nicer as artefacts than the current digital models and, in many cases, they are nicer to use as well. I use digital models such as the M10, but I often find the kind of breathless excitement expressed about upcoming new digital models to be uninteresting as I think that most digital cameras are already more than good enough and new models rarely have anything that is truly new or exciting. Now, that is going to be real challenge for the camera industry in the future. This is, of course, coming from somebody whose favourite Leicas are between 60 and 95 years old.

    Welcome to Macfilos, Andrew. I look forward to your articles.

    William

    • Thank so much, William. What an interesting viewpoint..and you’ve just given me some great ammunition next time Mrs Pemberton rolls her eyes when another camera arrives through the post. I’m completely with you about a lack of excitement for upcoming digital models. And there does seem to be a great emphasis on video or hybrid cameras at the moment, which I don’t find at all interesting. I think that’s why I like my old Hasselblad and digital back so much.

    • Nice piece on LHSA I was going to ask about Leitz NY Lenses but the question did not make the cut. Mark in Oregon (first camera Minolta SR-T101…it and the large kit were stolen in college and the Leica Rep, Don Leap, converted my insurance check into one demo/new M4-P with 50mm Summicron, a used 135 Hektor and a used chrome MR meter…

      • Thanks Mark. If you can find some way of getting the question to me through the LHSA Executive Director, Richard Rejino, I would be happy to answer it. I have some Leitz NY accessories for lenses, but no actual NY lenses. I have a lot of information about NY items here at my finger tips, though. Nice story about the insurance aided jump from Minolta to Leica.

        William

  2. Thanks for this article. I’m opposite minded, thus I feel invited to share my feelings. To me the final image matters, and the camera is instrumental. Obviously there are cameras that I love (few; but still I own 4), and love using, but what I care for is the image: I want to bring back some thing I loved seeing. I do not pretend being a gifted photographer, and my images are just for my pleasure and my memory. Yet I am very interested in the technology of cameras and lenses as objects. I love reading historical books on photography, and I even keep (but do not use) a folding rodenstock 6×9 camera once owned by my grandfather. But for me this is a theoretical interest: I do not desire to own these cameras, just to know how they were innovative in their time. Thus, I do not change cameras often, I never sell one, and my only means to dispose of a camera is lending it to my daughter who regularly forgets them on trains, boats, hotels, you name it.

    • Thank you, Andrea. It’s really great to read another viewpoint. We are fortunate to share a hobby/passion which is so broad that it provides enjoyment and stimulation to different people in very varied ways. It must be wonderful owning an old camera once used by your grandfather. I’ve bought a cheap Nikon DSLR to encourage my children (8 and 7) in the certain knowledge it will get dropped at some point!

  3. Thanks Andrew for this article that gives food for thought. I’m in no way interested in the haptics of various cameras but in their usability and results. I started photography with a minolta ST100X in the late 70s (last century 🙂 I then moved on to a minolta CLE with 2 lenses Leica 40mm and minolta 28mm. I then bought a Contax 139 + too many Contax Zeiis lenses after graduating as a teacher and used it for some 15 years before buying the Contax G1 with 28,35 and 45mm Contax Zeiss lenses. Moved to Leica R9 with 35 and 50mm summicron (too heavy), then came the M8 with 24 elmar, 28 elmarit and 35 cron. Sold them because of sight problems, bought many plane tickets + a Ricoh GR and later a Leica X2. These two cameras suits my needs and will be replaced when they no longer work. I bought a GR2 as my original GR was getting close to retirement age. I also use Ricoh’s GRD4 and GXR 50mm macro module (they cost me less than £200 as they were either ten years old or out of production). The GR is a wonderful camera for travel and I can use it almost with my eyes closed except for framing. It’s been my go to travel camera for 7 years and don’t feel the need to upgrade. The Leica X2 is used for lanscapes and for “slower” photography. My cameras have always been instruments, nothing else. My former cameras allowed me to finance the new ones as I’m not a collector. I’m an amateur photographer, totally happy with my gear and fancy new gear only in dreams. I’m far more interested in the results and physical prints on paper.

    • Thanks, Jean – great to hear from you, and of your interesting camera history. I’m often envious of those photographers who can genuinely say gear is not important and, even more, resist the urge to upgrade frequently. It’s probably just as well I have to sell cameras in order to buy cameras, or my cupboards would be full.

  4. Welcome aboard, Andrew. It was clear from your first article that you enjoy writing, and this one paints the background to it nicely. It’s great for all of us to read another contributor, another viewpoint, new subjects.

    To the question at hand. I have to say that my brain says that yes, one can certainly have enough cameras. But my heart won’t let me live that idea. Despite the best intention to reduce the number of cameras dotted around my house, in practice the very opposite happens- likely to my wife’s intense frustration ! Mainly through finds in 2nd hand shops, it must be said, particularly in recent years. I cannot claim to have owned any Leica, let alone your extensive list, but I do have an inordinate number of Micro Four Thirds bodies, some very nice glass to suit, a couple of Fuji’s, Pentax K1 and K5 Dslr’s, various digital point and shoots, and an assortment of film cameras. I’ve written a couple of articles for Mike about some of them, but certainly not all.

    It goes without saying that doing justice to any of them, let alone all, is entirely problematic. Particularly this year, having had the misfortune to live in Melbourne, I’ve spent most of 2020 chaffing in lockdown. Even now, we have a curfew and heavy restrictions on activities. As a result, there are a couple of cameras here on the shelf that I haven’t even used as yet! There is a Fed 2 with a roll of film half shot in it, waiting for better days to finish it. I’ve put a small sticker on it reminding me of the ISO speed. I opted to do this because i keep looking at a similarly bereft Petri rangefinder and wondering if it contains 200 or 400 speed film……..

    Anyway, No. No is the answer. I can’t have too many cameras. Not to own, at least. To use? An entirely different matter. And I keep looking at M8’s and M9’s. So it’s probably not going to get any better…..

    Regards.

    • Thanks, Jason. You make a very good point: too many to use, but not to own. I have a real soft spot for the M8 (less so the M9, for some reason). My first was in mint condition having taken only 200 shots. I sold it to buy an M9…and regretted it. Looking back, I suspect it needed calibrating, but I lacked the knowledge at the time to know this. One day, I will find a mint condition M8 again and I’m not sure I’ll be able to say ‘no’. I’ve also had a few Fuji’s over the years (X100 series, X-Pro1 and 2, X-T1 and X-T2) and quite liked them. Never owned a Pentax, but that full frame digital body sure looks the part!

      • Thanks Andrew.

        The K1 is a very very good image maker and is built like a tank. I doubt there’s a more rugged camera in the FF world and the sensor has beautiful output. Pentax has never had great auto focus compared to the bigger companies, but their ergonomics (and haptics) are first rate.

        If/when I make the jump to mirrorless FF, the K1 will probably have to go to help fund it, but it won’t be an easy thing.

  5. Thought provoking Andrew. Thank you.
    Photography is magic. Capturing an instant of time, gone as soon as it’s happened. Trite but true. Alchemy manufactured with wonderful tech instruments.
    How many cameras? Darn it, now you’ve set me thinking again. I really do have to do some consolidation. I’ll put it on the agenda for next week, and by then there’ll be something else surface so it can be put off to the next week. Or maybe next month. Shouldn’t hurry these things.

  6. About 5 years ago I decided to give it a go and actually count the number of cameras that I own. The grand total was 64 (although writing this down I now realize though that I forgot to count my iPhone and a number of cameras that were stored at a different location…). I counted everything: digital, film, Polaroid, Holga, etc. Since then I have been trying to reduce that number probably with varying degrees of success…

  7. Really neat article, glad your part of MAD MIKES GANG OF PHOTO GROUPIES, after your next article Mike will give you your colors, MACFILOS version of a Knighthood! Now he has to give you a name and that could be worth another article! In fact Mr. Fagan should do the same for Irish contributors, John S and Wayne ditto for their turf, Jean his, Mahesh his etc..

  8. Well done Andrew. And I thought I was the only cameraholic! Looking forward to reading more from you. I wonder which of us has been in and out and back in to the most systems?But never without at least one Leica. They are forever.
    Tony M

    • Hi Tony. That sounds like a challenge! I have to say, for the first time in a few years, I am Leica-less at the moment whilst I explore Hasselblads. Though not Leica-less forever, I imagine.

  9. Wonderful article, Andrew. I like the way you write; you could make a knitting circle sound exciting. I am with you, I like the ownership and the use of the cameras. I use them, of course, but I get as much pleasure from the use as I do from the finished product.

    Sometimes I get the impression from this site that producing photographs is the only goal and that discussing gear is somehow vulgar. So I’m glad to see you contributing and I hope we will get more of your insights into the equipment as your collection grows, shrinks and, possibly, stabilises. Good work!

    • Thanks for your kind comments, Nigel. As a young trainee reporter, I covered many events less interesting than knitting circles, I can tell you. I suspect, were you to conduct a poll, you would find a healthy split of those who like gear, and talking about gear, and those who focus on the end results. I think that’s what makes it such a good site. I, for one, shall continue writing about gear as often as Mike will let me. Watch this space…

  10. Good to make your acquaintance, Andrew. You’re a natural born to the typewriter if the two articles are any proof. I confess, I actually don’t collect cameras and I rarely carry more than one on a photo trip. I’ve always been fascinated with Hasselblads, I’ve always associated them with the Apollo moon landing. They did go to the moon, didn’t they?

  11. Good Evening Andrew,

    I enjoyed reading this for the words, as much as the camera titillation you have provided alongside it to keep our eyes engaged. In fact I was so immersed in the article I almost over looked the references to crab air, who I spent many years flying with – note the lack of happy years flying with. The quality of service and food was sometimes questionable back in the late 80’s and early 90’s, in fact I always felt lucky if the cardboard box it arrived in was thrown at me from forty feet by an Olympic shot putter.

    You are a lucky man to have some of those camera’s, and no doubt I will look forward to reading your future articles, and what else you come with.

    Best wishes

    Dave

    • Hi Dave. Great to know that, 30+ years later, you Pongos (I presume) are still complaining about the sandwiches. 😉 I look forward to a bit of Service banter.

      • How can you complain about a sandwich delivered by an Olympic shot putter, at perhaps a shade more than 100 miles an hour, while sitting the wrong way round in a VC10. Even brave people don’t complain then. They are just grateful someone fed us. 🙂

  12. I often drift into too many cameras and then cull them. However, my big problem is buying far too many lenses in multiple systems. I have a particular weakness for 50mm and select various renderings. However, when I got to leave the house I never want to carry more than 4 lenses and two camera bodies . I have always liked to have 2 camera bodies with different lenses so I can capture moments that would be missed if I changed lenses. I have done this since the 80s. However, I have recently sold 10 lenses, somewhat painfully, by seeing what I actually go out with rather than see a fine lens neglected and gathering dust. Since I purchased my lovely Panasonic 16-35/4 lens, my rarely used Leica M glass such as the gorgeous 18mm have drifted to a new home due to rare usage.

    • Hi Brian. Yes, I’ve had that 50mm addiction too. Selling stuff is always a difficult decision, I find. But it’s often the right ting to do, and better than watching items on a shelf gathering dust. And it opens up new opportunities for further rash purchases (often, in my case, of things I’d owned before and regretted selling). Go figure!

      • Hi, I have repurchased the Leica m 50/1.4 twice, the zeiss zm 50/1.5 twice, the Panasonic S 24 – 105 twice because I regretted selling them. There have been others but those come to mind instantly.

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