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.)
- 1971 Canon FTb, sold 1975
- 1975 Canon F1, sold 1982
- 1977 Canon AE1, sold 1982
- 1982 Nikon F3, stolen 1986
- 1986 Nikon F3, stolen 1987
- 1987 Nikon F3, sold 1996
- 1987 Nikon FA, sold 1996
- 1996 Nikon N90, sold 1999
- 1998 Hassleblad Xpan, sold 2004
- 2000 Contax G2, sold 2002
- 2001 Contax G2, sold 2002
- 2001 Contax TVSIII, gave to my daughter 2005
- 2001 Leica M3 Finally! ,sold 2003
- 2002 Leica M6, sold 2005
- 2002 Leica M7, sold 2005
- 2003 Leica M7, sold 2005
- 2005 Canon D30, sold 2008
- 2006 Canon 5D, sold 2009
- 2006 Panasonic Lumix LX2, gave to Sam
- 2007 Canon G9, sold 2009
- 2008 Canon 5D II, sold 2009
- 2009 Olympus EP-1, sold 2009
- 2009 Leica M9
- 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.