It is customary at the end of the year to look forward to what you hope will happen in the coming year and look back on what happened in the last year. This year has been turbulent for many reasons, but from the point of view of collecting vintage cameras, in order to restore normality I’ve written about me top camera finds of 2016.
2016 Top camera finds
The year started with me feeling as though I’d found an old friend when I picked up this Olympus OM-20 with it’s prime lens on eBay for a few pounds.
The OM-20 was the first ‘good’ 35mm SLR that I bought when I’d just started work in 1979 and I used it for several years until I part exchanged it for a Canon EOS-300 many years later. I suspect if I’d kept it I wouldn’t have had the same feeling of loss that I had ever since so I was really pleased to find a decent model in great condition in January.
In Feb I found another great find, but in this case it wasn’t a vintage camera but a (somewhat old) digital camera accessory – an Electronic viewfinder for my Ricoh GXR mirrorless camera.
I’ve owned the GXR for a couple of years and always found it a great camera. It may be old now, and not have the quality of my Fuji X-T1, but for custom setup and configurability it is absolutely top class but lacked one essential. Because the composition had to be done with the back panel LCD it was useless in bright sunlight.
So I was really pleased when I found a second hand EVF on ebay and could convert the GXR into a fully usable camera in all lighting situations.
February was a good month because I also picked up an Agfa Ambi Silette to add go my collection of vintage cameras in that month.
The Ambi Silette was an exchangeable lens rangefinder made by Agfa and was the top camera in their rangefinder offering. I managed to find one which needed a little bit of work to get it going properly, but once it had been fixed was a brilliant addition to my collection. A couple of months later I also managed to find an additional telephoto lens for the camera for only £0.99, although that also needed a repair.
March 2016 brought the addition of probably the best bargain I found this year. For just under £20 I picked up 4 cameras: A spotmatic SPII, a Praktica Super TL3, a Zenith E and the pick of the bunch, this Minolta X-700 manual focus camera – probably the best manual focus Minolta ever made.
Apart from a new battery there was absolutely nothing wrong with the camera and I’ve added it to the list of my favourite cameras of all time. At about the same time that I bought the X-700, I started to develop my own C-41 films and the sample pictures from this camera were some of the first I processed.
The next few months of 2016 saw some interesting cameras such as the Pentax MZ-3 and Minolta 700si, and then I had a bit of a kick forward a few years and started looking at vintage digital cameras. The next notable camera I bought was the Olympus E-500 in September.
This was an interesting camera to me because when I bought my first DSLR it was a choice between the Pentax K200D which I finally settled on, or the Olympus E520. The E500 was a similar camera to the E520 so when I got interested in vintage digital cameras and I found an E500 for £30 I snapped it up.
Towards the end of the year a lot of my free time has been taken up setting up my new project which is the Found Film site, but on the camera collecting front I started a new project to rebuild a Kodak Retina Reflex S slr.
This has been a fun project, although quite complex, and has only stopped temporarily because I’m trying to find some suitable cord to restring the exposure control. Once I have that I shall be back on that project and hope to publish the next part of that series in a few days.
So 2016 has been an interesting and exciting year from a camera collecting point of view – 2017 promises to be somewhat more turbulent politically so possibly it’s best if I keep myself amused looking at cameras!