So, this is my baby – or at least my latest baby. I collect old cameras, and I specifically like the ones I grew up with. This is a pristine OM-4 that I found for a few dollars. I love finding good cameras for not a lot of money. I don’t do this with the idea of reselling my cameras to make money. I try to find good cameras to add to my collection because they’re cameras I like to take pictures with – that I will use when I have the opportunity. I know this is a business for some – but for me it’s just for the love of photography, and the love of fine machines. I like to take parts from one to use to fix or repair another one. I feel the same way about my cameras as some people do about antique cars.
When I look at some of the cameras in my collection – mostly Nikon, Canon and Olympus – I see various designs. I even have an old camera made in the former Soviet Union – it’s solid steel that will probably work forever – but it’s not going to win any design awards. I think one of the things that drew me to Olympus in the 1970s was the basic beauty of the OM-1. When it first came out it was fairly revolutionary in both design and function. It was small and light, and it felt good in your hand (yes, it could easily be carried in one hand). The Nikon and Canon models of the mid 70s were large and heavy. The viewfinder of the OM-1 was bright and looked bigger than the competition. The lens was almost as wide as the entire body was tall, and looked very nice on the camera – it complemented the camera.
And, it was small – but not too small. It could easily fit in the palm of your hand, but it still felt right. Pentax came out with competing models – the MX and ME, the latter of which was fully automatic with no manual mode available. I think the Pentax versions were even slightly smaller – it seemed that Pentax wanted to hold the title of smallest SLR camera, but their models didn’t feel as nice in the hand (my opinion). It’s one thing to be the “smallest” but to make a camera that actually felt good in your hand, while being small, now that was something.
A camera can be used to create art, but I love it that the camera itself can be the art! I still see design innovation in cameras today, but I don’t think it will ever be like it was in the 70s – a time of intense competition. All the major camera companies were at the point of revolutionizing photography. Technology, that would make digital photography what it is today, was in it’s infancy. It was fun to watch it all play out. Although the 70s weren’t a decade I’m always proud of, for photography it was quite the time!
I’d love to hear your comments. Let me know what you think.