Finding Joy Through Shedding Camera Gear

Finding Joy Through Shedding Camera Gear

1975 1110 Jeb Inge

Let me start off by saying this: I’m usually not the type of guy to follow trendy self-help gurus or guides. I couldn’t be less interested in what people like Tony Robbins, Dale Carnegie or Deepak Chopra have to say about anything. More power to you if they or their books improved your life, but for me, they’re only a few steps ahead and one generation behind Instagram influencers and a few generations ahead of carpetbaggers and snake oil salesmen. 

But, and I say this begrudgingly, there are a few interesting ideas out there. Which is how we come to Marie Kondo — the one self-help guru that has taught me a valuable lesson.

If you haven’t heard of Kondo before, she is the author of four books and the creator of the KonMari Method, which stresses the power of “tidying up” to achieve inner peace. Kondo and her method have exploded in popularity after she got her own Netflix show.

If you want the “tl;dr” on her system, it’s that you should hold all your stuff in your hands and see whether it sparks in you a sense of joy. If it does, you keep the object. If it doesn’t, it gets chucked. I like the approach for its simplicity. It doesn’t require that you define that joy, or give it a value judgement. Joy equals good in this case, which makes decision-making much easier.

I don’t think Marie Kondo’s method could be considered one of minimalism. In theory, all of your stuff could spark joy and you wouldn’t get rid of anything. But, in most cases, applying her rules almost inevitably results in a reduction of belongings. There’s only so much joy to go around and often way too many material objects.

Minimalism and the people that live a minimal lifestyle are endlessly fascinating to me. I totally agree with the mentality and believe it’s positive for mental health. I love tiny houses, sparse decoration, and the idea of only owning three shirts. The thought of living in a van for a few years is exhilarating to me. 

Having said that, I was dealt a genetically bad hand when it comes to being a minimalist. There’s something in my blood that makes me enjoy being a collector of things. I have dozens of highway maps, I always buy certain records when I find them in vinyl shops, and I have a pull box at my local comic book store. My brain would likely be much more calm without these things, but I just can’t quit them.

It’s a lot like how I completely believe that a vegetarian or pescatarian diet washed down with water is the most healthy way to eat, but I also really love pork, Doritos and Coors Original.

So when I started shooting film again, a whole new world of collectable things opened up before my eyes. A world with brands that no longer existed, but who spent decades creating lenses, cameras and accessories that (at the time) could be snatched up and collected for pennies on the dollar. Laid out before me within the digital bazaar were camera bodies, lenses, flashes, light meters, straps made during a half dozen presidential administrations, junk, gems, and knick knacks galore. I plowed ahead, and over the next five years amassed a not insignificant collection of camera gear. I was limited only by my bank account and a very small number of tiny dusts. (That’s a Japanese eBay seller joke, in case you need it explained.)

Laid out across the digital bazaar were camera bodies, lenses, flashes, light meters, straps made during a half dozen presidential administrations, junk, gems, and knick knacks galore. I was limited only by my bank account and a very small number of tiny dusts.

For a long time I focused on acquiring, and relied on every trope photographers use to convince themselves to spend their hard-earned money. “This lens will take me to the next level.” “Maybe a different film format will spark some creativity.” “You can’t take money with you when your dead.” “Life is entropy, cameras are salvation.” The justifications were endless.

Fortunately, so were the opportunities to travel and make use of all this stuff. I’m going to Lisbon this weekend? What a great time to break in that new Minolta! A week in Krakow? Saddle up, pierogi, and pack the Rolleicord!

Then the pandemic hit and things like travel, motivation and focus started to shrivel up like prunes on a porch. 

A few weeks ago, while spending the weekend in my apartment, doing the same vegetative dance that I’ve performed every five days for five months, I finally got sick of looking at all the camera stuff. What was once a reminder of questionable purchasing decisions was now a reminder of having photographed nothing of merit in nearly six months. 

Then there’s the question of stewardship. How many of these cameras could find a new home and help someone else discover or develop a passion for photography? And on the reverse side, is there someone out there struggling because of a lack of gear that would otherwise thrive if they had my unused equipment. In truth, I was feeling more like a hoarder and less of a photographer (also, I realized long ago that I don’t really jive with the concept of collecting camera gear in the first place). The one thing that was clear was that I needed to make a change.

So I started pulling stuff out, picking it up and doing my best Howard Hughes impression as I asked myself, “Does this bring me joy?” (So far the lockdowns have not driven me to madness, or repeatedly asking to see the blueprints. But it’s not far off.)

Some answers came quickly, both in the affirmative and the negative. But many were more difficult to pin down, falling somewhere in the middle. So I thought I would share my thought process on what’s staying with me, and what will soon find a new home.

Out with a working Nikon, in with a broken one

Here we have a perfectly capable camera – one of the best that Nikon ever made, according to some. It’s capable of doing just about anything, and more than 90 percent of what the F6 can do at a fraction of the cost. The F100 was my companion on one of the best photo road trips I’ve ever taken, and gave me some of my favorite images. So I was surprised to pick it up and feel a noticeable lack of joy coursing through my veins. The chances are high that this one comes back to bite me, but for now it’s adios amigo!

But I have two much invested in Nikon glass to walk away willy nilly. Which is what I think as my gaze moves over to my F4. Two years ago while flying 40,000 feet above the north Atlantic, the AA batteries in my F4 started to leak. A few days later when I finally discovered the damage, it was beyond repair. Since then it’s sat collecting dust in a cabinet. You could (though I doubt successfully) make the argument that the F100 is the better camera. It’s certainly more modern. But only a few seconds after picking up the F4, there was no doubt I would be keeping the inoperable F4 and selling the near-mint F100. There’s something about the design of the camera, its impeccable lens compatibility and absolute unit ruggedness that made me choose it over the newer F100. The F4 is my ride or die for life.

Is two broken TLRs better than none? No.

Two cameras sit on my bookshelf as decorative fixtures, showing everyone who sees them that I’m not just a photographer, but a quirky photographer. They’re both twin-lens reflex cameras, one German and one Russian, and neither functions in any respectable way.

The first is a Rolleicord, the Jeremy to the Rolleiflex’s Jason Giambi. It’s a beautiful camera that’s roughly 90 years old. It was my first experience with a TLR and also quite brief. Midway through the second roll of film, the focusing knobs somehow were disconnected and the camera is no longer able to focus. The second is a Lubitel, made by LOMO in the former Soviet Union. Either the translation from Russian to English wasn’t accurate in the camera’s online listing or I’m unable to read. Either way, the camera arrived with a non-functioning shutter.

One of these might be worth fixing, and both are interesting pieces of home decor. But neither will be staying rent-free in my apartment for much longer. 

I’m (finally) done with point and shoots

In the last year I bought an Olympus mju II and a Minolta Hi-Matic AF2. It was the second time I bought each camera, and I paid much more for both the second time around. Both were companions on my first European vacation and I think my brain mistakenly attributed the overall awesomeness of that trip with each and every camera I packed. (You would be shocked how many I actually carried on that trip.)

The mju II I bought more practically to be an everyday carry. I got it for a good price, or rather a good price for the mju II market. It’s truly the most portable 35mm camera I’ve ever used, but I’m simply not blown away by the results. That has been a recurring experience that sounds like the old definition of insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. When I sit and hold these two in my hands, it’s not joy I feel, but buyer’s remorse.

The only slam dunk was the stuff with “the bad reputation”

I don’t think most people would assume that the part of my collection most obviously untouchable for resale was the stuff made in a Socialist country with a shaky reputation for quality. Well let me tell you something, comrade, there wasn’t a second’s hesitation when it came to the Pentacon Six and the four Carl Zeiss Jena lenses that go with it. Because it’s a key part of the big photo project I’ve worked on over the last three years, I use the Pentacon more than any other camera I own. I’ve come to understand it – its quirks and personality traits. I’ve invested in it, having the lenses professionally serviced and investing in accessories that heightened the experience of using this medium format system. What about all the criticisms of the camera’s reliability? They have proven to be as realistic as the goals of East Germany’s five-year economic plans.

Why do I keep buying zooms?

Zooms suck. I suck. You think that’s enough overlap to make this relationship work out. Look, it’s time for some real talk. It’s time to come to Jesus, y’all.

Old zooms suck. They just do. Yeah, there are plenty of you out there that have or will choke (or at least guffaw) from reading this. That’s okay. There are always naysayers when The Truth comes down off the mountain. They’re soft, they’re slow, they vignette like the fade at the end of a Buster Keaton movie. And even if you’re shooting new ones, they’re heavy and cumbersome. 

Alright, there’s a small amount of hyperbole going on here. Zoom’s aren’t universally awful (as James has previously written.) I actually think Canon’s current 24-70mm f/2.8 is one of the best multipurpose lenses ever made, and I say that as someone that doesn’t care much for Canon. But lenses just don’t gel for me. I think the many advantages of prime lenses when it comes to image quality far outweigh the convenience of a zoom lens. So why do I own three zoom lenses? The three whose fate lies before me, Nikon’s AF 35-70mm f/2.8, 80-200mm f/4.5 AI-S and Minolta’s Rokkor 35-70mm f/3.5 are each well-reputed lenses and were class leaders when they debuted. I’ve even previously verified the sleeper hype of the Nikon mid-range zoom. 

They’re all probably fine lenses, but I never find myself picking them up and giving them some exercise. It’s time to let someone else give these lenses some love. I’ve come around to the peace of mind that comes with accepting who you are as a person. I am but a simple prime lens shooter. Thus, the zooms must go.

Some accessories, but mostly not

I’ve found that accessories are a mixed bag, and I’ve given some advice on good accessory buying. But I’m not beyond making mistakes. That thought hits hard as I exhale, stare, and wonder why I own three Minolta battery grips and even more old Minolta flashes. Then there’s the pile of cheap filters that’s not even worth the time I would spend writing about them, let alone photographing and listing for sale. 

Most of this stuff needs to go, either into the trash or online if it’s worth it. Old flashes don’t fetch much and old battery grips vary in price. It could be that, like me when I bought them, some poor soul is laying on the couch, romanticizing the concept of completionism and will spend actual money on this stuff. And maybe unlike me, they’ll actually put it to good use.

There is a purpose and place in your storage for accessories. I’ve found things like good straps, extra viewfinders and film holders are excellent at making life easier. But immediately after setting aside this surplus of junk, I already feel lighter, less weighed down, and my feeling of regret at buying them in the first place is slowly evaporating.

One man’s trash can also be his treasure

I will end on a weird note. Despite the aforementioned slander against point and shoot cameras, there is one that will always have real estate in my heart: the Nikon L35AF. My love for this camera damn-near entered cliche territory when I wrote about it in 2019, so I won’t wax poetic over it again. This temperamental old timer might have seen its last rolls, as the last three I have put through it were wound completely to the end by the camera’s motor. Every time I close the back door and push the shutter button to advance, it just winds and winds until the batteries or my ability to withstand misery are expended.

So it would be easy to think that this gets tossed on the “sell” pile. But I’ll be holding onto it. One reason is that it’s worth almost nothing the way it’s currently (mal)functioning. I just don’t have the heart to put this stud out to pasture with a “FOR PARTS” branding on its backside. But I’m not purely driven by economics, there’s a substantial amount of joy I get while holding my L35AF. (Broken, malfunctioning, infuriating, are also emotions that come to mind.)

It’s further proof that I will never be a true minimalist, but the camera still gives me joy and I agree with Marie, that joy should have a firm place in our lives (and camera kits.)

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Jeb Inge

Jeb Inge is a Berlin-based photographer and writer. He has previously worked in journalism, public history and public relations.

All stories by:Jeb Inge
  • So the moral of the story is hold onto your most fave Nikon gear & dump the rest? Me likes…

  • Funny, just three days ago I traded all my Olympus OM gear, a Bessa L + 15mm, a couple of classic compacts and a boxful of random accessorry of little to no value to a Leica M2. Photographer’s Konmari! 😀 Not that my camera cupboard is now empty… but it probably should. See, nearly everything about my photographic habits suggests that Leicas (yes, I have two, I think it truly is wise to have at least two bodies per each system, just in case… you wouldn’t want to be left without a functioning camera just when you should be snapping your best frames ever, now would you) are really everything I need, but I still find a “valid” reason to hold on to a whole bunch of other camera kit I hardly ever use:

    Nikon F2 + 35, 50 & 105mm – way too heavy and noisy to my liking, but hey, some day even the Leica might wear out beyond repair and then I still have the F2 that’ll work forever

    Nikonos V – I don’t do diving, but hey, sometimes it’s nice to shoot in heavy rain without fear of destroying your gear. But at least the underwater-only 15mm is admittedly only for decoration…

    Olympus Trip 35 – I never shoot compacts myself, but maybe a family member or a friend would sometimes like to give film a try and my manual-everything stuff would be too hard for them to handle…

    How about medium format? Yes, I love the “6×6 look”, but I always prefer to carry something smaller. Besides, my favorite enlarger can only do 35mm and digitizing medium format negs is also a lot more hassle than with 35mm. Yet, I’m not about to sell my Pentacon Six kit (two bodies, one of them modified for double exposures, and five lenses) and I’ll never let go of my beloved Minolta Autocord. And what’s it about that 6×9/6×7 Linhof Super Technika? Don’t ask, I don’t know. It’s way too heavy, slow and cumbersome to do anything hand-held (although the anatomical grip is marvelous), but way too tiny for any real large format style work.

    I’d probably be happier with one body and one lens (plus backup!) and one enlarger. After all, I keep telling myself that my hobby is photography, not cameras. But, you know… At least I know I’m definitely not the only one 🙂

    /end of confession

    • I’d like to go on the record as saying the thought of a completely empty photo cabinet is abhorrent to me. 😉 Those are some nice MF setups you have. The Linhof in particular has had my attention for a while.

      • I’m quite likely to let go of that Linhof as soon as I’ve spent the small stash of sheet film and direct positive paper I have for it,so atay tuned 😉

  • Ah yes, another blog post convincing me to keep my lens-less M2 I have tucked away in a dry cabinet. Haven’t shot the thing months, but does it (and will it) bring joy? You betcha.

    A lovely read.


  • Tom Raymondson May 7, 2021 at 10:11 am

    Camera collecting is a funny thing. Everything? Only Minolta? Old? (well, of course). Duplicates? Buy? Trade? Receive out of nowhere (I’ve got this old camera – do you want it?). When to cull the herd. Decorations? Shooters? Display? In a drawer somewhere? It’s about the photo, not the camera, stupid! And why are cameras black so they show all the dust? The stories – oh, the stories! My dad’s Balda Jubilette, me squinting into the sun waiting f-o-r-e-v-e-r for him to take the picture; my Mom’s Kodak Brownie Hawkeye, which produced only tilted photos; the Rolleicord owned by a member of the Dutch resistance in WWII, my first SRT-101. Camera collecting is a funny thing.

  • No, no no. You should have flogged everything to pay for repairing the Rolleicord.

    I suspect this is all the influence of the Kondo book, after I bought it for my wife I woke up one morning with my sock drawer organized in a new and disturbing way.

    Kudos on the faux-product-photos!

  • Some of us are casual camera collectors.

  • Totally on board with this thinning of the herd. I’d like to hear how your selling experiences go. Will you sell on channels other than eBay? As more of a buyer than seller on eBay, I’d be interested in selling strategies and pitfalls to avoid. Good luck!

    • That’s a good question! My plan is to use Ebay, but I’ve had some sour experiences as a seller there before. The alternative is selling locally, which narrows the market but costs less in headache and hassle. I still haven’t decided!

  • Peter Bidel Schwambach May 7, 2021 at 2:24 pm

    Having spent a good portion of my life collecting diecast cars, and into model making, and actually putting them to use in tabletop gaming sessions, the thought of having a massive camera collection once I got back into film only crossed my mind as a scary perspective into a future of hoarding even more stuff. I’d decided early on that I’d only put money into stuff I’d actually use, and try and trade or sell off stuff that I didn’t.

    It started off well enough… I bought a nikkor 50mm 1.4 for my FM2, and traded the series E 50mm 1.8 and a Tokina 200mm f4 for two nikkors, a 28mm 2.8 and a 135mm 2.8. The 28 was crapped out tho, so I got rid of it and got a brand spanking new 24mm 2.8 in its place. My massive Metz CL45 handle flash, which was just too cumbersome to carry around, was soon traded off for a compact Nikon SB22s Speedlight, and I just had to have a Nikkor 105mm 2.5 that I found on the cheap online. A 35mm and a 200m that my wife got me for christmas and my birthday rounded out what is probably more glass than I’ll ever find use for.

    Life was good, but at some point during my gear quest, I’d aquired some byproducts in the form of random cameras and other gear that came with the lenses I’d bought. Three Canonets, a Nikon EM, an Olympus Trip 35, a small collection of speedlights, assorted straps, a camera bag. All of this stuff was trash to someone, and while I didn’t really want it, it was all in working order and a CLA away of making great pictures once again. One of the Canonets I kept for myself after realizing I really, really needed a compact fixed lens rangefinder, the other one I sold off. My wife fell for the EM’s compact form factor and ease of use, so I bought back my old series E 50mm lens, had the camera cleaned up and gifted it to her for christmas. The Trip 35, the final Canonet and the assorted gear I tried selling off at a local store, but the owner wasn’t buying. Instead he offered a trade for a Yashica Electro 35GT, plus an Olympus OM2, plus three lenses for said Olympus and a set of 49mm filters.

    Now my minimalist camera collection is at 2 rangefinders, two different SLR System cameras plus multiple lenses and filters for it, a third SLR body that’s my wife’s but it’s stored with the rest of my gear, and I found myself looking around the internet for a Pentax SLR plus lenses because, what the hell right, having several cameras justifies buying more cameras, as well as maybe Nikon FE2 or FM3a as a backup body to my FM2.

    I really want to trim down my collection to just the bare minimum of what I use, but more gear always seems to find its way home, and I always seem to get more than I bargained for in trades…

  • Great 😉 Bravo
    I just what I reallu use often from all my gears … 😉

    Leica M3 with Canon LTM 50/1.4, Leica Tele-Elmarit 90/2.8 thin (I do not use often my 15mm)
    Minolta Hi-Matic 7Sii
    Contax T
    Nikon 28 TI
    Nikon FA
    Sony A7 RII

    My experience is, after 40 years 😉 : one camera, one lens is the best !!! The lens is the most important, a body is to carry a film and a lens.
    Buy your gear from serious people like James here from this web site or to Japan Camera Hunter, they will give you something really tested well … It is better to have only one in good shape, than several in middle shape. When you camera breaks during a travel, … bouhouhou sniff, sniff, sniff you regret to have paid cheap, … … … But sometimes cheap from serious maker are very good : Canon LTM 50mm 1.4 = 150 $ = the Japanese Summilux. If I dont buy cheap for market breakers, I do not want to pay high prices for a small difference … …
    This web site is very great and articles are better and better.

  • Years ago, I thought I needed a lot of gear for my freelance photography side gig. It was nice for awhile but after practicing my craft and focusing on what I do best, I realized I only needed a few pieces of gear to get the job done. Same thing with my film cameras. I just stuck with what worked. One film SLR and one point and shoot that I enjoy very much. Funny, the experience of selling my old camera gear was very enjoyable though.

    • I’ve also had that experience, getting a job and thinking “oh I need so much gear ASAP.” The reality is that what you have is almost always enough. Good to hear whittling down your gear was a pleasant experience!

  • I’m down to a Rolleiflex my dad got on Christmas* in 1956 and Nikkormat with the 24mm, 50mm, and 85mm lenses. I mostly use the Rolleiflex, which is the ultimate one camera, one lens. It has the Schneider-Kreuznach taking lens and the pictures it takes have a quality that’s hard to define. I’d bought the non-AI Nikkors for my Fuji because they are cheap and I love the scalloped focusing rings. So I got a Nikkormat EL to use them with as intended. I don’t love it as a much as the FE2 I foolishly gave to my nephew, but I don’t use 35mm often enough to pay for another.

    I’d had a lot of stuff once upon a time, mostly older German things like Kodak Retinas or Exactas. They were fascinating, but it was a diversion. When I thought about what I valued about film in the digital age, the Rolleiflex seemed to capture it best.

    • * My grandparents weren’t wealthy, just kind of middle class, so I’ve often wondered about their decision to get their 11 year old son a Rolleiflex for Christmas. It was a crazy expensive gift! But he was a meticulous guy, I guess they knew their kid. Imagine getting something for your 11 year old that his son would in turn value as a 46 year old, 65 years later! I’m amazed by it. My dad died 15 years ago, so it does feel like it has ancestral magic.

      • A Rolleiflex for an 11-year-old seems both an incredible gift for a kid, and also one that that kid wouldn’t be able to fully appreciate. It’s great you still have it. Hopefully it’s still getting some use.

  • Michael S. Goldfarb May 9, 2021 at 8:19 am

    I have an even more difficult issue with divesting photo equipment…

    My parents were pros with their own little commercial studio for over 50 years, and I pretty much inherited everything. Before selling their house (with its basement studio they’d set up after downsizing from a storefront in the eighties), I sold or gave away a lot of stuff. Enlargers, view cameras, halogen umbrella lights, big banks of (WWII surplus) fluorescent lights, light stands and tripods, seamless paper rolls, trays and developing tanks, big rotating print washer, dry mounting press, safelights, hard rubber deep developing tanks, paper cutters… Even a barely used Mamiya RB-67 that I gave a friend’s daughter who was then studying photography in art college. And I threw away a lot of stuff that seemingly nobody was interested in a decade ago that just killed me, like dozens of 4×5 film holders. And the big darkroom sink and 16×20 vertical stat camera went for metal recycling. What I kept went into a storage unit, then the garage once I had one.

    There’s stuff I use – a Nikon F2 and a bunch of fine pre-AI Nikkors, 35mm film developing equipment – and there’s a nice display of collectible cameras sitting in a bedroom bookcase. But there’s still so much stuff in the garage, including huge things I will never use: a 4×5 Graphic View II, an Omega D-3v 4×5 enlarger, both with full ranges of lenses and accessories. Sure, these could be sold now, and a lot more easily than 10 or 15 years ago. But these workhorses were the foundation of my family, they put my sister and me through college! They’re not just photo equipment, they’re family heirlooms. How could I get rid of them?

    This is worse than just having to decide what to do with equipment I bought myself on my own photographic journey!

  • Timely article! On the day you wrote this, I sold my Mamiya 645AFDii, and I am in the process of further rationalising my collection. After many years, I finally came to appreciate that there’s such a thing as too much choice and that by limiting my options, I can cut down on the variables and actually work with a few tools to become a better photographer. So, I’ll keep one medium format camera, one point-and-shoot, an autofocus rangefinder and a handful of quality vintage lenses to use with my digital mirrorless, and let the rest go to a good home. Life’s too short!

    • Which medium format camera did you keep instead of the Mamiya? There’s a lot to be said that the “right” tool is more valuable for skill building than a plethora of tools.

      • I’ve kept my Fuji GW690iii. The fixed focal length might seem a bit restrictive but it forces me to think about exactly when to use it, or when to opt for a 35mm alternative with interchangable lenses.

  • This post is utter blasphemy, I’ll have you know.

  • I’m all for slimming down the collection. I’ve been thinking about how to do that for a while (it might come down to just selling a bunch of old primes from various systems as a lot…) and definitely have too much junk right now in addition to my cameras that I like and use often.

    However, I think minimalism as it’s currently conceived and expressed is a bit of a junk theory. While on the surface it looks great and satisfies our ennui at the malfunctioning version of capitalism we live in the midst of (read: rampant consumerism for obtaining self-worth, yuck). But it doesn’t account for the fact that life is a little complicated. For example, tiny home owners find that they spend a lot more time (and therefore money) at places like cafes when working or using the web, or gyms with memberships since they have no space. Minimalism often means you don’t have things which will serve the occasional purpose, so you have to go out and buy it when you need it. Or, spending lots of money without ownership, say streaming music instead of purchasing favorite used CDs. Leasing a car and having nothing to show for it. On and on. And the Kondo thing, while it has a place, can’t be followed to the letter all the time: often the thing that sparks joy, but has less utility, ends up staying and cluttering your life because of the sentimental value attached to it. I’d say ration the amount of stuff that you allow to have a sentimental attachment to you.

    But you can find a decent equilibrium in the middle of all these somewhere. I can’t say I’ve found it long-term where cameras are concerned, but as a working theory I feel like I’m getting there.

    • This wins the award for best comment I’ve read in a long time. I can’t disagree with any of it. Specifically the points about spending lots of money without ownership are really on point.

    • Moderation. An excellent, if not trite, solution. I totally agree, as someone who currently has too much stuff in general, but am a big DIYer and find that I often use many of my things (cameras, tools, surplus materials) and save time and money having to rent or buy them in a time of need. I’m working to find that balance of the things I really should hang onto, the things I use enough to merit keeping, and the things that are simply ridiculous to keep around.

      Nice article and thought exercise Jeb. And as for Andrew’s point, I totally agree there is a balance to be struck.

  • I was just thinking about this very thing over the past couple of days. I bought a dry cabinet not long ago but bought one on the smaller side of things. This brought about a one to one swap situation. If I wanted something, there was not going to be room for it so something had to go. It has worked pretty well. However, I have shifted a little bit to the ‘if there was a fire, what would I grab’ line of thinking (this is after I make sure my family is safe, of course…). I have an ETR and ETRSI, with a bunch of lenses and viewfinders/ WLF sitting in the dry cabinet. I used to use them all the time for landscape and set up shoots. Now, however, I just do not. I look at them and see that I regularly grab my Yashica EM which is infinitely more convenient (and more interesting). I do not think that I am going to replace it with anything either.

    Anyone want a bunch of great condition Bronica stuff? Haha

  • I reuse old photoequipment, especially lenses with modern digital cameras.

    From old broken cameras i take the lenses out and adapt them und explore their performance.

    Best regards

  • For what its worth, I had an f100, its one of the few cameras I kinda regret selling. It is the camera that brought me back into photography after a long hiatus. I sold it because I have an f4. I kinda feel the f100 was better. I really like the nikon f5 more than the f100 though! I actually had a a canon eos 1v and I liked the feel of the f5 better. unfortunately my f5 leaked batterys like your f4 and because of this the f5 only works intermittently. But out of all of those I don’t think I will sell my trusty nikon f2a.

  • I think I have now most of the camera gear I have ever dreamed of: Leica, Hasselblad, 4 SLR-Systems, whatever. Deep inside, I know that buying another piece of equipment won’t make my photography substantially better, in the end it’s up to me and the decisions I make for using it.

    But still, even when I feel a certain emptiness about it (maybe also because of the pandemic) I still look out for a opportunity here and there. I kind of accepted it that I like old cameras and restoring a cheap SLR and getting it back to work somehow gives me a piece of mind – even when I know that I don’t need another one.

    So I’m not yet ready to part with most of my analog gear, I feel a bigger emotional value than for my digital stuff. I already sold the most of it and I’m down to only 3 digital cameras now. The process of selling through forums and online classified platforms felt cumbersome to me, very time consuming and sometimes frustrating when I couldn’t get the money I was hoping for. Still, I don’t regret selling most of it but I don’t want to go through the whole process again anytime soon. Isn’t reflecting endlessly about your camera collection and trying to shrink it down is also some kind of distraction? In the end, shouldn’t it be all about photography itself?

  • This article has me wanting more gear, there’s so many shiny things to try and I have more years behind me than ahead of me in which to try them. However if I was to have to downsize I would have to think long and hard about which goes and which stays. I aquired my camera’s for a reason. My Nikon DSLR’s got me a gig with a now defunct Custom Bike magazine here in the UK, my Nikon F801 (8008) was a gift from a dear friend, my OM-1 is my dream camera and my Pentax SP500 was the one that started me off in 2017. My Olympus 35RC is my pocket powerhouse daily carry and my Praktica BX20 was bought with a view to having fun with a friend who also has the same camera and lens. The wife thinks I’m crazy and she probably has a point, but I use them all in rotation. It keeps my mind active.

  • I’m summoning up the will to ebay my granddads very complete om2n set up and my uncles spotmatic and a dozen m42 lenses.. and then there’s my under used fm3a, olympus trip, various folders, a few more slrs, tripods, copy stands weird 1970s accessories, flashes for various decades … and there’s the nikon digital stuff!

  • I struggle with this… In that I think I actually struggle to buy into this philosophy, personally. How many times do you read on these pages and elsewhere on the internet comments such ‘I wish I’d never sold X particular camera’? In fact I’m surprised there aren’t more people expressing a counterpoint to the Kondo-esque argument presented here.

    Would having one camera and one lens make me a better photographer? Undoubtedly yes. Do I sometimes feel a little overwrought at the choice – which camera and lens(es) to take out today? – presented by a reasonable collection now built up over the years? Of course. Would I get rid of any of my cameras – now somewhere into the late teens in number? Possibly only two. These two are the only ones I don’t use regularly and can’t foreseeably envisage a situation that I would use them for anymore. But they aren’t really worth anything much and being half-frame point and shoots, they take up next to no space, so even that isn’t really worth it.

    The reality is that I am fortunate enough to own a beautiful range of film cameras that I’ve each thought about, researched and purchased over the years. I love how every camera has a different feel, a different mood and emotion for shooting with. Each seems to fit with a different situation, activity, or location. There are cameras for travel, rangefinders for reportage, cameras for a relaxed mood just taking snaps on a sunny day, medium format camera(s) for landscapes, some cheap(er) Olympus SLRs for taking to the sandy beach, or on a wet fishing trip, or leaving in the car for 30 mins and not having to worry about too much, small lightweight consumer rangefinders for multi-day hiking trips, Leicas for days when only the best will do. Together with a range of prime lenses and flashes for all of them.

    It’s great! I love it! Having come from a cycling / MTB background, where one can easily spend multiples of $8k on bikes that will become rapidly superseded by new ‘tech’ within a few years – and virtually worthless in depreciation terms after 10 years – enjoying a quiver of film equipment to use daily seems like a much more sensible course of action!

  • To be honest, I have only gotten into cameras in the last 2 years. I wanted something to just walk around with take some pics and enjoy the process of learning photography. 2 years later, I have an oddball collection of random cameras. I have learned how to change out light seals on an SLR. I have learned the complete joy of getting a camera that works, digging into it’s history, and figuring out how it works. I have also learned of disappointment when it comes to camera collecting. When I get one I thought was functional in good shape only to find out it needs work, and will be a while before I can use it due to repairs.

    I might have 20 cameras in my collection and nearly as many lenses. My 2 favorite ones to use are my first one a Konica Autoreflex T2, and a Yashica Mat124. I look at the others and think, maybe I should slim down on just focus on those. I don’t take the others out shooting, they are just displays that I enjoy seeing. Sometimes I will handle them, opening them up, fiddling with the controls, and maybe firing the shutter a few times. I enjoy learning about the history of them, the feel, the smells, and wondering what lost memories they captured. There is something about old technology that amazes me, because it still works. Well mostly, or they can be made to work, or whatever. The engineering that went into something that old, and in their own way brilliant in simplicity. I like that.

    I still struggle with the learning process of taking pictures. I have bought a modern Fuji X-T2, which I happily have adapted my Konica lenses to use with. I figure seeing the instant results of an image captured could save me time and expense of film. I feel that does help me in the learning process, well makes it cheaper. But there is something about the old film cameras that I don’t think my digital will ever replace.

    I wondered off topic a bit there. I don’t think I will be downsizing my small collection. Even if I don’t use them, they do bring me joy.

  • I’m in a similar boat. I have lost count on the number of camera bodies I have. I love photography, but with covid I haven’t been able to get out and do any shooting. I live in Palm Springs and have recruited friends to pose for a few shots and worked on scanning some old negatives. But anyway, I have a huge collections of cameras and recently was given a Canon AE-1 which is in good working condition. Shot two rolls of Film through it, but havent seen the results yet. When I go on a trip, I do take a film camera and my digital with me. The digital is great for street photography and I use film camera for the occasional portrait when I can get an indivual to stop and pose for me. Anyway, good luck in down sizing. I’m 69 years old and that day will soon and I’ll have to part with some of my gear. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.

  • I have to agree with the article about zooms. They were ok at best. And some of the third party lenses were a gamble. For a Minolta X-370 I was given, it came with an off brand lens (Five Star, I believe) that is fair at best. I only used it once. The MD Rokkor 50mm f1.4 has been the only lens I use. My main camera at the time was a Canon EOS 620 I’ve had since 1990 (and complimented by an EOS-1n in 2003) and I used the 50mm 1.8 Mk1 and 28mm 2.8. In 1991 I got a Sigma 75-300 4.5-5.6. It was a decent lens but still could not come close to the sharpness and contrast of the primes. It was close at the optimum aperture.

    Fast forward to 2019 when I purchased a 6D Mk1 and a Canon 16-35 f4L IS. That lens blew me away with its performance. It’s sharpness and contrast are exceptional. Chromatic aberration is very highly controlled. It outperforms my 28mm. And the results translated well to my film bodies. Photos taken on PanF+ with that lens and printed on a dichroic head enlarger are just gorgeous!

    Ok, that’s Canon L glass. It is expected to give such results. Well, since my Sigma 75-300 doesn’t work with Canon digital bodies, I replaced it with a Sigma 100-400 f5-6.3. Now that lens is impressive!!! I get excellent results with both film and digital. It is very sharp and contrasty. Wide open I’m very happy with it too. If there’ll any corner softness, I’ve never noticed as that’s where the out of focus background is at. But I am very happy with it as I doubt that the image quality of the Canon 100-400 4.5-5.6L costing twice as much would be twice as good.

    So while I was exclusively a prime shooter years ago, higher end glass has changed my mind about zooms.

  • Jay Dann Walker in Australia January 19, 2024 at 9:09 am

    I live in Australia. Who can afford film down here in Down Under these days?

    Buying a five-pack of anything analog is more an investment than a purchase.

    Dumping old film cameras has become almost a fetish with me now. Last year I (finally!) offloaded four Contax G1s at a reasonable price for each – one was faulty and got returned, so I’ve kept it as a shelf queen, if only to remind me of one (of many) follies of my middle age when I had the credit if not the ready cash and bought up big. I also put the Contax G Zeiss lenses up for sale, a 21, 28, 35, 45 and 90. The ‘standard’ lens went within days but the others are gathering dust on the photo shop’s shelf.

    Next to go will be the Fuji stuff. Gorgeous glass, but I’ve never really bonded with the cameras. Okay, I may keep the XE2 and one or two lenses, likely th 14 and the stellar 18-55, for walkabout gear. As for the rest, well, bye bye…

    Ditto four Rollers I’ve had on a shelf for about a decade now. Of course they will have to be checked first to see if they re still working, which in overpriced for everything Australia means I’ll have to flog a kidney to pay the camera repair shop. The accessories alone (I have several boxes of those, bought when they were still dirt-cheap) are probably worth more than the cameras. Time will tell and we will see.

    My dream is to become uber-minimalist (hello, Marie Condo!) and finish my photo time with one camera and maybe four lenses. Nikon to be sure. The Zf is very tempting, but that will mean selling my D800 and D700 and the collection of D lenses I’ve built up over the years. Oh. On the other hand I could forget about the Zf and just keep the D800 and my best lenses. And chuck the rest.

    So there you are, Jeb. Look at all this angst your article has caused at least this old lens man. Well deserved, actually. All these conundrums surely must serve some purpose. If only I can figure out what that is.

    Anyway, your excellent article and the comments, have reinforced my belief that basically we must be descended from Neanderthal tribal pack rats, stuffing our caves with everything from saber tooth tiger fangs to dinosaur skin bed covers. I know I am…

    DANN in Australia

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Jeb Inge

Jeb Inge is a Berlin-based photographer and writer. He has previously worked in journalism, public history and public relations.

All stories by:Jeb Inge