Confessions of a Cameraholic


I always like cameras and I suppose I always will. It has been like that since I was a kid when I walked into NDG photo on Girouard and Sherbrooke in Montreal sometime around 1958. There was a British guy called Terry, who had a large handlebar moustache, always wore a green turtleneck knit sweater and his specialty was the glass case at the end of the sales counter. It contained a red felt mat on which was printed the Leica logo in white. On top of it was a Leica M3 body, a IIIG body and two or three lenses. Since I was a 15 year old kid, Terry would never give me the time of day, but every time I wandered in to buy one of those Kodak paper developing kits, I hoped he would notice me, take pity and let me fondle one but it never happened.

At this point, I could have gone two ways. I could have ended up as one of those guys who collect Leicas and have every model’s serial number memorized, was obsessed about whether the Summilux 35/1.4 was better than the Summicron35/2.0 in the corners at f 8, and worried about the grade of black paint that Leica used on all versions prior to serial number 280xxx and shit like that. Or, I could have been a guy who just took photographs. Fortunately, I chose the latter.

In spite of being ignored by Terry for those years, I had always wanted to own a Leica, but circumstances (lack of funds) always thwarted me. So those early years were always compromises. My first camera was a Konica IIIA which was a non-interchangable lens 35mm camera. It had been recommended to me by s photographer by the name of Saul Frankel who had a studio next to my father’s men’s store on Ste. Catherine Street. He was a nice guy who went out of his way to arrange a deal with one of his suppliers so I got it at a good price (I think around $75.00), used it for a few years until my brother lent it to one of his friends and I never saw it again. My next camera was an Asahi Pentax (the original model). It had interchangable lenses, and by some fluke, I did eventually get a 28mm wide angle for it and my fate was sealed. I was headed down a dark lonely path—one for which there was no return.

Sometime around 1971, the Canon F1 was introduced and I wanted one but alas, the lack of funds was a factor and I had to settle on a Canon FTb. I knew it was a stopgap move and eventually I did get one and as I got older, I seemed to end up with the cameras I wanted. A list follows. —all 24 of em. (I usually never owned more than a few at a time—always trading up or using older models to finance newer ones. If I would have kept them all, my wife would have divorced me ages ago.)

  1. 1971 Canon FTb, sold 1975
  2. 1975 Canon F1, sold 1982
  3. 1977 Canon AE1,  sold 1982
  4. 1982 Nikon F3, stolen 1986
  5. 1986 Nikon F3,  stolen 1987
  6. 1987 Nikon F3,  sold 1996
  7. 1987 Nikon FA,  sold 1996
  8. 1996 Nikon N90,  sold 1999
  9. 1998 Hassleblad Xpan, sold 2004
  10. 2000 Contax G2, sold 2002
  11. 2001 Contax G2,  sold 2002
  12. 2001 Contax  TVSIII, gave to my daughter 2005
  13. 2001 Leica M3 Finally! ,sold 2003
  14. 2002 Leica M6, sold 2005
  15. 2002 Leica M7, sold 2005
  16. 2003 Leica M7,  sold 2005
  17. 2005 Canon D30,  sold 2008
  18. 2006 Canon 5D, sold 2009
  19. 2006 Panasonic Lumix LX2, gave to Sam
  20. 2007 Canon G9,  sold 2009
  21. 2008 Canon 5D II, sold 2009
  22. 2009 Olympus EP-1,  sold 2009
  23. 2009 Leica M9
  24. 2010 Panasonic GF-1

It took me 45 years to get my first Leica and I thought that would be my last camera. Then came digital and I had to start over again. I did not think Leica would ever go there but technology has a funny way of fucking with you. Now the technology allows manufacturers to turn out a new model every year and it is always significantly better than the previous one. Thankfully Leicas are turned out far more slowly so I can take a break. Even I agree that this is absolutely ridiculous. (By the way, I think that I am getting better. My worst year was in 2002 when I owned concurrently the three Contax’s, the Xpan and two Leicas.)

Since 1996 (Nikon N90) I have always bought my cameras online but I wish I didn’t have to. It would have been nice going into a store, fondling the various cameras and listening to the sales schtick by a guy like Terry before deciding, but they just don’t do that anymore.

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