Collecting and using classic cameras

JPeG image 
- Agfa Isolette

This page deals with one of my main interests: using and collecting classic cameras. Collecting cameras tends to be a rather expensive pastime, so those of us unfortunate enough to not have access to unlimited supplies of money will have to be selective as to what cameras to collect. Fortunately, using a classic camera need not be more expensive than using any more recent type of camera, provided it doesn't require frequent repairs.

Although the term "classic camera" might for some people apply to any camera that is no longer in production, and for others only to cameras from before the war or from the fifties, such as the Agfa Isolette shown on the right, I am mainly interested in cameras of the sixties, seventies and early eighties. These are mostly very useful tools that take easily available film (mostly 35mm and medium format), have "normal" shutter speeds (not the 1/25, 1/50 sec and so on of pre-war models) and tend to be in reasonable working order.

I own mainly Minolta SLRs, from the mechanical SRT-101 (1966) to the fully electronic X-700 (1982). The choice for a certain brand is largely personal, and I certainly do not want to get involved in the infamous Canon-versus-Nikon brand wars. Years ago, I started taking pictures with a Minolta manual focus camera and 50 mm lens, and sticked with it ever since. To me, Minolta is an attractive choice because the cameras are mostly quite reliable, the lenses (especially the older, prime lenses) are of high quality, and 2nd hand Minolta gear tends to be somewhat cheaper than comparable Nikon and Canon equipment. But I have to admit that many of the same benefits would also apply to other reputable brands, such as Olympus and Pentax.

Additional reading

The title of this page happens to be identical to that of a very interesting and useful book by Ivor Matanle. I can recommend his book(s) to anyone who wishes to delve into classic cameras and their history.

Paul van Soest, e-mail:
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Page last updated on: October 31, 1999