Earth Day Cameras

Swap Meet, Precision Camera - Austin, Texas

Swap Meet, Precision Camera – Austin, Texas

I don’t know if it was on purpose, or a happy coincidence, but Precision Camera had a swap meet today, on Earth Day. They’ve had a few of these and this was my first visit. It was a lot bigger than I expected with many folks renting out tables to sell old, used photographic gear.

Some had a hodgepodge of mostly, to me, junk. But others had quite an organized and varied collection for sale. Randy’s, from San Antonio, was the most impressive, shown here with loads of old Nikons and a smattering of very nice, classic film cameras.

I was very tempted by a fully working and decently kept Zeiss Ikon Contessa, probably from the early 1950s. I even went to the cash machine to withdraw the $100 for the camera, but I ultimately decided against it. I have many film cameras with half-finished rolls which I need to shoot. I also have a similar Kodak Retina 1a, which is in better shape, if I needed a fix.

I’ve been proud of myself for not buying any cameras this year. With a 1/3 of the year gone, it’s probably some sort of record. Alas, I broke the streak and bought a 15-year-old Olympus digital camera instead. I got the C-5050, which was a prosumer 5MP camera that sold for $799 back in 2002. I picked one up, in great condition for $15. Why? I’ve built up a decent collection of early Olympus digital cameras and this model slotted nicely. I’ll probably shoot and feature some of its images in a future post. I’ve learned that 5MP is actually quite sufficient for most people’s needs. Yes, it’s possible to make great photos with cameras with less the 12MP. Not everyone needs the latest 42MP behemoth.

I also learned that my “modest” 50 or so cameras are nothing compared to serious collectors. One guy sheepishly admitted that he owned about two thousand. He says he comes to these things to sell off part of his collection, but he ends up adding more than he sells. He’s been doing this for 50 years. I don’t consider myself a serious collector. Rather, I want to have different types of cameras to shoot, so that I’ll have stories to tell about them on this blog.

New cameras are certainly fun. But new old cameras are fun too. Especially if you can get a good one for a song. On this Earth Day, I thought it was relevant to talk about reusing old cameras. Yeah, the Olympus C-5050 is not nearly as beautiful and classic as a Zeiss Ikon, but they still work well and a fun distraction for a little more than a price of a lunch in Austin these days.


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6 thoughts on “Earth Day Cameras

  1. Collecting can become an evil, like gambling. This is why I went cold turkey on antique Chinese porcelain and several other things. I ALWAYS bought more than I sold and I always seemed to sell for less that I paid.

    Fortunately, I really don’t collect cameras. If I find I’m not really using the cameras, I move them along. I am grateful. If I got into collecting, it might be my end.

    1. What’s wrong with gambling 😉

      Like many things, it’s the excesses which are the problem. I like to think that my camera collecting is mostly in check, but that remains to be seen.

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