A new camera a month for a year

A new camera a month for a year

For those of you who don’t know, every month since May (2012) I have been trawling eBay for an old analogue camera, limiting my purchase to £10.

This has left me with 12 fully working analogue cameras before turning 25 next month.

I am so relieved to have finished this project but it has been fun and educational too. I’ve been left with a rewarding sense of achievement and I am really happy to have been left with such a nice new collection of cameras.

However, this project came with many challenges. These ranged from difficult eBay transactions to quite possibly the longest, bleakest winter in the history of the world.

I also didn’t take into account that, within a year, six months of weekdays would be rendered useless for photos due to complete darkness both before and after the 9-5 grind. That left only 8-10 weekend days a month to photograph something interesting and to have dry weather/good light conditions.

Other times I wouldn’t know if the camera even worked. Quite often there were marks within the lens, due to age, that you cannot see until you develop the film. A another frequent problem was with the focus ring; many required very careful handling but you wouldn’t realise until it was too late.

I tried to get through two films a month where possible, that way I could learn more from each of the cameras and avoid any mistakes made during the first roll. Time and weather were rarely on my side.

Every camera was different and many of them were designed to be used in non-English speaking countries, which led to further guess-work where manuals were only printed in different languages.

I learned that buying an SLR (over a rangefinder) greatly reduced the chances of messing up my focus, meaning I had a better chance of finding three nice photos on one roll of film. However, I must have lost about twenty SLR cameras on eBay due to my low budget. Often only being outbid by 50p which became really frustrating.

Here I’ve put together a list of 10 facts that you may find interesting about the project:

  1. Manufacture: Ten of the cameras had stopped being manufactured by the time I was born (1988).
  2. Total Cost: £76.80 (that’s £6.40 a camera).
  3. Cheapest: Praktica MTL3 (£0.00).
  4. Most expensive: Zeiss Ikon Contessamat (£10.00).
  5. Reliability winner: Fujica ST605N (Flickr set).
  6. Aesthetic winner: Balda Prontor-SVS (Chubby & love the winding mechanism, not great photos so far though).
  7. Recommended to others: Kodak Colour Snap 35 (It’s fun, light, easy to use & loads on eBay!).
  8. Flickr Explore: Only one, of the 36 final photos, made it into Flickr Explore from the Praktica BC1.
  9. 35mm film used: Kodak Colour ISO200/ Ilford XP2 ISO400/ Lomography CN 100/ AGFA vista 200/ Kodak Portra 400.
  10. Future project ideas?: I would love to do more with analogue photography, maybe move into something even less predictable like Polaroid. This guy, Tom, is a huge inspiration for my next potential idea. I have also just bought another DSLR, the Canon 60D, I think it would be a shame to not pick that up more this year. It would also be interesting to see whether or not I would change any of the final three images, after using the cameras for another year.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank people who have been a major help to this project. Rick is a given, he’s been there to help work out a lot of the technical problems; films snapping during the rewind, helping me load the Kodak Instamatic 50 with the wrong film-format in complete darkness in the bathroom. And generally being a super hot model.

Somebody else who has been unbelievably amazing is Sarah at Kodak Lincoln. She’s let us abuse her dark-bag more times than I can count, usually after I’ve rushed in crying about a broken or exposed film. As well as having an awesome name, she has saved many photo-tastrophies, reassured me that it’s OK to be a chocoholic and we share the dream of a Francophile lifestyle. Big love for you, Sarah!

More photos, from all of the cameras within the project, can be found in this collection on Flickr.

And now for a massive montage.

1. May - Kodak Colour Snap 35

2. June - Zenit 11

3. July - Zeiss Ikon Contessamat

4. August - Konica C35V

5. September - Cosmic Symbol

6. October - Kodak Instamatic 50

7. November - Halina 35-600

8. December - Fujica ST605N

9. January - Agfa Silette I

10. February - Praktica BC1

11. March - Balda Prontor SVS

12. April - Praktica MTL3