CTK Insights

01 Mar

Photo cameras I owned

So far, over the length of my lifetime I owned six photo cameras. The first two were presents from my grandmother (the only one of my grandparents who survived WWII). The fifth camera was a present from my wife.

The first three were produced in Russia; the first modeled after German Voigtländer Brilliant, the other two after Leica.

As a young boy, I did all the film development and printing in a bathroom that doubled as a dark room. My fourth camera - Ricoh XR-P - was the last non-digital camera.

I still keep the last four cameras - can't say exactly why, three, perhaps for the inherent sentimental value.

The Russian word Любитель translates as fan, amateur, buff - probably to indicate that it was not intended for a serious professional.

The literal meaning of the Russian word смена is change, but it may also mean "what come next" so the camera, as the first one, was also intended for young amateurs - the new generation that did not know the pre-revolutionary Russia or post-revolutionary hardships.

"фэд" is an abbreviation that stands for "Феликс Эдмундович Дзержинский" (Felix Edmundovich Dzerzhinsky), the first head of the feared Cheka - the Soviet secret service. I think this is because the factory that produced this camera also bore his name.

Ricoh XR-P was a delight to use; with its three programmed modes I began losing the mastery of setting exposure manually. Once, when my wife's older sister was visiting with us from Israel, the two of them drove to the ocean shore and took the camera along to bring back photos from the memorable event. When I got the camera back, I was so disgusted by its condition that I never used it afterwords.

As a compensation, my wife bought me Powershot G2 for the next birthday. It was fully automatic - I do not believe it ever produced a bad picture. In time, however, I began to feel as an absolute amateur. The sense of pride in being able to determine and set up the right exposure and be responsible for the quality of the picture that I developed in my youth, when handling manual cameras, got lost. I practically stopped to enjoy picture taking.

Canon Rebel T4i was supposed to provide an opportunity for at least some manual work. I must confess that there appear to be some skills that I need to learn over again.

One of the surprises that I came across while hunting for a new camera online, was that in all likelihood Powershot G2 became a collectors item. At amazon.com store it is more expensive than the Rebel, at Sears it fetches a hefty $1763.62. Alas, on eBay it is offered for $36.25.

Go figure.

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