Wednesday, July 7, 2010

gear: junk collectin' while gathering spools

Earlier today, I was on the phone with a friend and we were talking about the (extremely high) prices of Leica and Hasselblad cameras. Provided one could afford either of the particular cameras we were looking at (the Leica M9 50mm/0.95 Noctilux ASPH listed new at $10, 500 or the H4D 60 kit at $42,000) would the experience and/or results be that much more. . .I don't know, wonderful? worthwhile? amazing? Otherwise put, how, specifically, would the experience and/or results associated with working with either of those cameras compare with the experience and/or results associated with working with, say, a 25 dollar or, better yet, a 5 dollar camera? Bracketing off any considerations of lens quality and whatnot, I'm guessing one difference would have to do with the cool factor--seeing others see you working with a camera few people have the opportunity to work with. For my part, I know I'd spend most of my time worrying about breaking, losing or having stolen a camera that few people will ever have the opportunity to work with. Which is why I am perfectly fine, most happy, in fact, with being a junk collector. Provided you have (or can easily find) duplicates of the same junk camera (and I use the term "junk" with deep respect and affectionate here), there's less time spent worrying about something happening to it. They are easily replaced. Replaceable. And, more often than not, they are capable of taking really good, and oftentimes even quirky-good, pictures. Case in point, I am continually amazed at the results afforded by this inexpensive pano trash cam. If I'm not mistaken this camera was given out as a freebie with magazine subscriptions in the 1980s. This image in particular, taken of an old rusted-out piece of farm equipment, just floored me. To think something that cost a dollar could take images like this, well, wow.

As I began devising strategies for packing things up in advance of my upcoming move, I came across my baggie of film spools, most of which are from rolls of 620 film. A perk of buying old 620 cameras is that they can often be had cheaply (unless it's a model most often used for ttv work). More importantly, perhaps, unless the seller thinks to take it out and sell it separately, there is usually a 620 spool left inside the camera. In some cases, the 620 spool is worth more (in terms of resale value, anyway) than the camera itself is. In fact, I remember how, when I first started working with film but before I was developing it on my myself, I was strongly advised to make sure that I could trust that whoever was doing the processing for me would send the spools back--especially the 620 spools as these are difficult to come by. This turned me into something of a spool-hoarder. I tend now to dispose of the plastic 120 spools, but I keep close tabs on the 620 and 127 spools.

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