Why 35mm film cameras ?

John added a comment to one of my posts asking why I had a fondness for film and I answered the comment but it got me thinking about why I’ve been buying so many 35mm film cameras lately.

Yashica 230 AF side view

Yashica 230 AF

I suppose the main reason is one of nostalgia. I’ve been taking pictures since I was a young boy because my Dad took pictures so I naturally got interested in the same things. Incidentally, he was also interested in electronics and that interest also rubbed off on me and lead to my first career in electronics and test with Marconi Instruments in St Albans. Anyway, back to the photography.

I had the use of a variety of cameras when I was growing up since Dad used to collect cameras which he bought in the local auction room and market. They were only cheap box cameras and bellows cameras, most of which were pretty simple fixed lens 120 roll film cameras, but  had great fun taking the pictures and getting the snaps back from boots.

One Christmas my parents got me a photographic print set which consisted of a perspex contact print frame, some small enamelled trays and chemicals allowing me to make prints directly from the negatives from these cameras. I remember the first time I used it I misread the instructions and instead of exposing for a few seconds, I exposed the print for about 60 seconds. The print appeared almost as soon as the paper touched the developer !

Anyway, I used these cameras for a while until I inherited my Dad’s Zenit B SLR, and then I bought a second hand Petri MF-1. This was my main camera until I started work and bought an Olympus OM20 with a couple of lenses – a Hanimex 28mm f/2.8 wide angle and a 70-200mm zoom of some make. About this time I started looking at camera magazines and read up on all the latest models from all the big manufacturers. At the time the big four were Nikon, Pentax, Minolta and Olympus. I don’t really remember Canon being that big although that’s probably my memory playing tricks.

I think this memory of the cameras from around the start of the 1980’s until about 1995are the reason I’m  getting cameras at the moment. I see models that I used to drool over being available for a few £ so I snap them up.

There is also a slight possibility that these cameras will actually go up in value. Most things seem to go through various stages as they become older. First they are just old technology which is finished with and are basically junk so they are thrown away. After a while they become nostalgic ‘decorators’ items and then they start to rise in value again. I remember my Dad used to have quite a few 1930’s radio sets. I say quiet a few – he had a garage full of them until Mum made him clear them all out. Some of those old sets are now selling for hundreds of pounds. There is no reason behind this – AM radio is very poor quality and mostly is being phased out. It is still a fact however that good examples of these radios sell well. I’m hoping the same happens with film cameras.

In the final analysis I guess I just like the feel and experience of trying out these different cameras and owning them. And, if it gets me out of the house taking pictures that can’t be a bad thing !



Categories: Photography, Vintage

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6 replies

  1. I’m happy to have inspired such a post! Our parents have such a big impact on us .. I’d bet that your daughter eventually learns her way around a camera, and learns how to take good photos.

    I have an old Canon 35mm, from 1982 — don’t recall the model at the moment. I can’t decide what to do with it… I only have one lens, and never really did get the hang of it. Growing up, I was interested in photography, but we didn’t have a darkroom, and it was expensive to take the film for developing, especially if the shots weren’t good. Digital photography is what rekindled my interest in photography. Film is still available here, but you have to order it, mostly. And, there are only a few places to get it developed, and they’re not all that close. So … my old Canon just sits in the drawer. I think of getting rid of it, but, when I was 16, I took a 4-week trip through Europe, and the Canon was the camera I took… so it’s a bit of nostalgia for me.

    Maybe I should see if there’s anyone in the area who knows old cameras and can help me relearn how to use it. 🙂

  2. I agree.I used to drool over hot wheels cars,so i still buy them whenever i get the chance,something in between nostalgia and strong desire to buy it or may be a little bit anger over nobody buying them for me when i was young.

  3. Wow. You know something I am in absolute agreement with you. I’ve still got a list of cameras in my head I’d like to own. You no doubt have something similar. It may be a great Idea for a blog post. The first SLR on my list would be an OM1. However the list goes on and on.Whats yours.

    • Well OM1 certainly. I remember the stir that made when it was released and the contrast between it and other SLR’s at the time. There were several Nikon models like the F2 I remember, and Minolta. To be honest I can’t now fully remember the individual models so much as knowing that at the time I wanted them. I know that sounds odd (and at odds with the post I’ve done) but I now see a camera for sale on eBay and see if it stirs a memory when I do some research.

  4. I think your analysis of the camera value curve is correct. If they are near rock bottom now is the time to buy, assuming you have the storage space! 😉 In 5, 10 or more years the value will rise again, particularly on rare or popular reliable models. In the meantime you get to try those cameras you always wanted to buy and make your own judgement on their pros and cons from first hand experience. Could make an invaluable database of information for writing about them.

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