So, as a follow up to a previous blog post (photography in retrospect), I’d like to examine film photography, and the cameras we used to use. There’s some kind of strange attraction we have to the past – to the tools that we (or others) used.
I’ve been a collector of old photo equipment for a long time – mainly because I lived during a different time when film was the norm. I guess that means I’m old, but the 1970’s is one of my favorite decades, because of the changes I saw in cameras. There was a great deal of competition between the major camera companies. I saw the introduction of electronics and automatic exposure capabilities. It was a time when camera companies started to develop cameras targeting novice and high end amateur photographers with cameras that didn’t require “professional” knowledge to take good photos.
My first SLR was a GAF with a 50mm f2 lens – a very basic, and inexpensive camera. I was on the year book staff in my high school, and remember using that camera – but wanted something a little better. I was able to mow lawns and do other jobs around my neighborhood to save enough money to buy a Minolta SRT 101. I remember being so fascinated at how bright the viewfinder was with a Minolta 50mm f1.7 lens, and much easier focusing was with a brighter viewfinder.
When I went to college to study photography, I began to think about getting a new camera. I started reading about Olympus and some new cameras they built that were smaller and lighter – with big, bright viewfinders. I couldn’t wait to go look at one. I finally saved enough money to buy an Olympus OM-1 with a 50mm f1.8 lens, and was very impressed by the technical aspects of the Olympus OM cameras. They were small and solid feeling, and the shutter just sounded so nice. I loved using the OM-1. It was easy to carry and take with me anywhere. Compared to a Canon F-1 or a Nikon F2 it was tiny!
So, I recently added a couple Olympus OM cameras to my collection. One, in particular, was a surprise – an OM-2 that someone was selling for parts, saying it was untested and not working. When I started playing with the camera, and installed some new batteries, it was actually working! I still need to run some film through it as a real test, but it’s in great condition, cosmetically, and seems to be working technically. I love the sound of the shutter! It’s a great addition to my OM-1 and OM-4T, and another reason to buy a few rolls of film and go out shooting!
If you haven’t played with film photography, I encourage you to give it a try. You can find old film cameras at thrift shops, garage sales, estate sales, as well as on eBay. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a fun little camera to try out film photography with. I’d love to hear your stories. Let me know about your experiences with film photography.