Philosophy The Obsession with "gear"

I am about to add a F3 to this lot...

Cameras.jpg


After F3 will be F4 and I am so glad they stopped at F6. I don't intend to do the same with the D series cameras and as far as Olympus is concerned, so pleased they stopped with the Pen-F and there won't be a Pen-F2
 

ajramirez

Hall of Famer
Location
Caguas, Puerto Rico
Real Name
Antonio
I do wonder sometimes why I dropped $1300 on an X100V and not an iPhone 11 Pro +. The latter is a big improvement in my phone cam capabilities and my phone cam is a notable chunk of my photography.
Because it’s pretty and feels good in the hand? :) Just kidding. Please see my P.S. in my post above in this thread.

Cheers,

Antonio
 
Agreed. I was out walking today and thought of this thread, so I went to a piano graveyard near my home, to re-affirm that humans have always created beauty just for the sake of beauty. These are a few images of the insides of old pianos slowly decaying in the elements. The inside, where no one can see. But pride of craftmanship was such that they painted little black dots on the gold bumps and engraved intricate designs that added nothing to the sound or look of the instrument - the service technician would probably be the person who would see these embellishments most often.

Inside pianos in a graveyard...
PianoGraveyard-1.jpg

Humans make art. Humans make beauty. I would go so far as to say humans LIKE making things beautiful.
 

William Lewis

Veteran
Location
Hayward WI
Real Name
William Lewis
Agreed. I was out walking today and thought of this thread, so I went to a piano graveyard near my home, to re-affirm that humans have always created beauty just for the sake of beauty. These are a few images of the insides of old pianos slowly decaying in the elements. The inside, where no one can see. But pride of craftmanship was such that they painted little black dots on the gold bumps and engraved intricate designs that added nothing to the sound or look of the instrument - the service technician would probably be the person who would see these embellishments most often.

Inside pianos in a graveyard...
View attachment 221968
Humans make art. Humans make beauty. I would go so far as to say humans LIKE making things beautiful.

Many species have been observed making/using tools.
It would appear, however, that only genus Homo makes things pretty. "In 2014, a shell engraved by Homo erectus was determined to be between 430,000 and 540,000 years old." new scientist article cited by Wiki "Art"
 

MiguelATF

Hall of Famer
Location
Talent, Oregon (far from the madding crowd)
Real Name
Miguel Tejada-Flores
I go back and forth on gear and my own obsessions but most of the time, what obsesses me is not so much whatever camera or lens I have or am using (or think I want) but the mystery of taking pictures.

Susan Sontag pretty much summed it up, for me, when she said - “The camera makes everyone a tourist in other people's reality, and eventually in one's own.”

Seeing things through other people's eyes (and cameras) affects me ... and I'm sure affects both the pictures I take, and the gear I use to take them. A lot of it is being in the right place, at the right time, and having a camera that works. But then, the mysteries of seeing a photograph emerge, either in the darkroom (in the good 'ole days) or on my screen - and often being surprised by the results - is rather addictive. Sometimes I think it\s the surprises that keep me wanting to take pictures. And (yeah I'll admit it) occasionally buy more picture-taking gear.

I think the most beautifully made camera I ever used (and briefly owned) was the Leica that belonged to my late father---

My father's Leica (Kodachrome Mem).jpg


But it definitely did not take the best pictures. At least, not in my hands. In spite of years of studying (or at least thinking about) photography, I was fairly clueless when it came to actually making pictures. Fast forward to decades later when another 'surprise' - turned into one of my favorite photographs---

RailRoadSTOP-EKPortraXT1v4.jpg


But it was not taken with anything resembling a high-end or state-of-the-art camera: I took the picture with an inexpensive (cheap) used Lumix GX1, and maybe the cheapest lens I've ever owned, the all-plastic Olympus 15mm BCL ('Body Cap Lens'). Compared to some cameras I have now, the GX1 seems crude and has a limited dynamic range - and the lens will never make anyone's lists of fine photographic glass - but it worked as well as and better than considerably 'finer' cameras I've used.

One of my favorite photographers, J.T. White (aka jtinseoul) has taken brilliant (to me) photos over many years with...a bewildering variety of different cameras. Including both small-sensor and more modern Ricohs, Leicas, Olympuses, Fujifilm X100s, Voigtlander Bessas and---the list goes on and on. Including iPhones and smartphones. And somehow, when I look at his different photos, from so many different cameras, I (really) can't tell which he took with which. Or when. He has a way of seeing the world which seems personal no matter what his gear is or may be. JT says "I don't take photos with my mind....I think I do everything with my gut." He then goes on to expound on something that always seemed curious but real to me - that his inner or emotional state dictates the choice or use of a camera more than anything else. "I usually have a jump in my step" he says, characterizing what it feels like to work with his Leicas - while other cameras match more chaotic, brooding or depressed states of mind.

When you look at it from that point of view, the gear we own or use or seek out isn't so much an obsession - as finding the right way to reflect our own inner landscapes....in the world around us. Or at least it's a damn fine rationalization...for that next piece of gear I can't seem to live without ;)
 
I go back and forth on gear and my own obsessions but most of the time, what obsesses me is not so much whatever camera or lens I have or am using (or think I want) but the mystery of taking pictures.

Susan Sontag pretty much summed it up, for me, when she said - “The camera makes everyone a tourist in other people's reality, and eventually in one's own.”

Seeing things through other people's eyes (and cameras) affects me ... and I'm sure affects both the pictures I take, and the gear I use to take them. A lot of it is being in the right place, at the right time, and having a camera that works. But then, the mysteries of seeing a photograph emerge, either in the darkroom (in the good 'ole days) or on my screen - and often being surprised by the results - is rather addictive. Sometimes I think it\s the surprises that keep me wanting to take pictures. And (yeah I'll admit it) occasionally buy more picture-taking gear.

I think the most beautifully made camera I ever used (and briefly owned) was the Leica that belonged to my late father---

View attachment 221978

But it definitely did not take the best pictures. At least, not in my hands. In spite of years of studying (or at least thinking about) photography, I was fairly clueless when it came to actually making pictures. Fast forward to decades later when another 'surprise' - turned into one of my favorite photographs---

View attachment 221979

But it was not taken with anything resembling a high-end or state-of-the-art camera: I took the picture with an inexpensive (cheap) used Lumix GX1, and maybe the cheapest lens I've ever owned, the all-plastic Olympus 15mm BCL ('Body Cap Lens'). Compared to some cameras I have now, the GX1 seems crude and has a limited dynamic range - and the lens will never make anyone's lists of fine photographic glass - but it worked as well as and better than considerably 'finer' cameras I've used.

One of my favorite photographers, J.T. White (aka jtinseoul) has taken brilliant (to me) photos over many years with...a bewildering variety of different cameras. Including both small-sensor and more modern Ricohs, Leicas, Olympuses, Fujifilm X100s, Voigtlander Bessas and---the list goes on and on. Including iPhones and smartphones. And somehow, when I look at his different photos, from so many different cameras, I (really) can't tell which he took with which. Or when. He has a way of seeing the world which seems personal no matter what his gear is or may be. JT says "I don't take photos with my mind....I think I do everything with my gut." He then goes on to expound on something that always seemed curious but real to me - that his inner or emotional state dictates the choice or use of a camera more than anything else. "I usually have a jump in my step" he says, characterizing what it feels like to work with his Leicas - while other cameras match more chaotic, brooding or depressed states of mind.

When you look at it from that point of view, the gear we own or use or seek out isn't so much an obsession - as finding the right way to reflect our own inner landscapes....in the world around us. Or at least it's a damn fine rationalization...for that next piece of gear I can't seem to live without ;)
Back in "the good ol' days" we would say "heavy, man, heavy". Thank you for keeping this thread in a good "zone". Pondering is all I expect to get from such a thread. But that pondering often leads humans to art.
 

donlaw

Hall of Famer
Location
Texas
Real Name
Don
I go back and forth on gear and my own obsessions but most of the time, what obsesses me is not so much whatever camera or lens I have or am using (or think I want) but the mystery of taking pictures.

Susan Sontag pretty much summed it up, for me, when she said - “The camera makes everyone a tourist in other people's reality, and eventually in one's own.”

Seeing things through other people's eyes (and cameras) affects me ... and I'm sure affects both the pictures I take, and the gear I use to take them. A lot of it is being in the right place, at the right time, and having a camera that works. But then, the mysteries of seeing a photograph emerge, either in the darkroom (in the good 'ole days) or on my screen - and often being surprised by the results - is rather addictive. Sometimes I think it\s the surprises that keep me wanting to take pictures. And (yeah I'll admit it) occasionally buy more picture-taking gear.

I think the most beautifully made camera I ever used (and briefly owned) was the Leica that belonged to my late father---



But it definitely did not take the best pictures. At least, not in my hands. In spite of years of studying (or at least thinking about) photography, I was fairly clueless when it came to actually making pictures. Fast forward to decades later when another 'surprise' - turned into one of my favorite photographs---



But it was not taken with anything resembling a high-end or state-of-the-art camera: I took the picture with an inexpensive (cheap) used Lumix GX1, and maybe the cheapest lens I've ever owned, the all-plastic Olympus 15mm BCL ('Body Cap Lens'). Compared to some cameras I have now, the GX1 seems crude and has a limited dynamic range - and the lens will never make anyone's lists of fine photographic glass - but it worked as well as and better than considerably 'finer' cameras I've used.

One of my favorite photographers, J.T. White (aka jtinseoul) has taken brilliant (to me) photos over many years with...a bewildering variety of different cameras. Including both small-sensor and more modern Ricohs, Leicas, Olympuses, Fujifilm X100s, Voigtlander Bessas and---the list goes on and on. Including iPhones and smartphones. And somehow, when I look at his different photos, from so many different cameras, I (really) can't tell which he took with which. Or when. He has a way of seeing the world which seems personal no matter what his gear is or may be. JT says "I don't take photos with my mind....I think I do everything with my gut." He then goes on to expound on something that always seemed curious but real to me - that his inner or emotional state dictates the choice or use of a camera more than anything else. "I usually have a jump in my step" he says, characterizing what it feels like to work with his Leicas - while other cameras match more chaotic, brooding or depressed states of mind.

When you look at it from that point of view, the gear we own or use or seek out isn't so much an obsession - as finding the right way to reflect our own inner landscapes....in the world around us. Or at least it's a damn fine rationalization...for that next piece of gear I can't seem to live without ;)
I agree with all of what you wrote here. The mystery of seeing an image, that is a slice in time, has always given me a delight. That's a joy I discovered when I was about 15 years old. It still holds true today.
And as others have echoed here, there is fine workmanship that make cameras fascinating. Part of me wishes that I could have kept every camera I had the pleasure to use. From the first Nikkormat, through Contax and Leica, all the film cameras seemed like fine watches to me. The workmanship, design, and the materials and even the sounds they made were very key factors in my joy of using those tools. The new digital Leicas have much of that same appeal. I feel very lucky to have used them.
One of the reasons for joining this forum stems from the fine design of 'serious compacts'. Like the Rollei 35, Contax T2, Nikon 35Ti, and other compact film cameras, I still like the idea of a compact pocket camera that is finely built.
Part of what we have collectively been describing in the thread is why using a mobile phone with all the computation wonders it can do is not a satisfactory photography experience.
 

tonyturley

Legend
Location
Scott Depot, WV, USA
Real Name
Tony
I still have the camera and lens that started it all, a Praktica STL-3 and Jenna DDR 50mm/2.8 given to me by my parents when I was 18. It was my only camera for almost 20 years until I dove into digital. Since then I've bought, sold, and given away way too much gear. I've kept the Rollei 35 and Olympus 35 RC from my nostalgia film days a few years ago. I've never had any truly high end gear, although I have owned a couple of the less expensive PL m4/3 lenses. I also like the idea of a nice compact pocket camera, but my photography interests are so varied that I don't think I could stick with such a camera as my one and only.
 

I can close one "obsession off". This closes a collection of Minolta Leica Thread mount lenses: the 3.5/3.5, 4.5/2.8, 5/2.8, 5/2, 5/1.8, 8.5/2.8, 11/5.6, and 13.5/4. I started with a Minolta Hi-Matic 9 in 1969. The 1940s and 1950s Minolta Leica mount lenses are not common compared to Nikon and Canon. Most are very different optically- closer to design to Leica and (old) Voigtlander. The 3.5cm F3.5 was a straight Tessar design, but it is rare- and was the last I needed for the collection. This lens is reputed to be the first that uses two optical coatings per surface, "Achromatic coating", which implies better color correction. I can guess that the designers wanted small optics with few surfaces to test a new technique on. The F3.5 optics were slow, even for the time. The Tessar formula had given way to double-Gauss designs by the mid 50s. Paid more for it than my MIOJ 3.5cm F3.5 LTM Nikkor PLUS MIOJ 3.5cm F3.5 S-Mount Nikkor. I hope the seller needed the money during this pandemic.
 

I can close one "obsession off". This closes a collection of Minolta Leica Thread mount lenses: the 3.5/3.5, 4.5/2.8, 5/2.8, 5/2, 5/1.8, 8.5/2.8, 11/5.6, and 13.5/4. I started with a Minolta Hi-Matic 9 in 1969. The 1940s and 1950s Minolta Leica mount lenses are not common compared to Nikon and Canon. Most are very different optically- closer to design to Leica and (old) Voigtlander. The 3.5cm F3.5 was a straight Tessar design, but it is rare- and was the last I needed for the collection. This lens is reputed to be the first that uses two optical coatings per surface, "Achromatic coating", which implies better color correction. I can guess that the designers wanted small optics with few surfaces to test a new technique on. The F3.5 optics were slow, even for the time. The Tessar formula had given way to double-Gauss designs by the mid 50s. Paid more for it than my MIOJ 3.5cm F3.5 LTM Nikkor PLUS MIOJ 3.5cm F3.5 S-Mount Nikkor. I hope the seller needed the money during this pandemic.
Congratulations! A fine collection set.
 

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