Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Classic cameras and crazy people

These are two of my favorite classic rangefinder cameras, a Canon Canonet GIII QL17 and a Konica Auto S2.  The Canon is from the early 1970s while the Konica is about 10 years older.  I probably have less than $200 invested in the pair.  You can buy these all day long on eBay for very little money.  Both take excellent photos on 35mm film, and the Konica was intended as a pro quality camera in its day.  It's a solid, heavy camera.

Another favorite (not pictured) is the Yashica Electro 35 GT and it's various siblings.  They're simple and cheap, but have excellent lenses.  The biggest problem with these old cameras is finding one that hasn't been damaged by leaky batteries.

So imagine my surprise when PetaPixel carried a story on classic rangefinders that have been given the 'bespoke' treatment by Ilott Vintage - a camera restoration service in Miami.  There are several critical differences between their cameras and mine.  Theirs have wood veneer covers while mine have the original leatherette.  Theirs are professionally restored while mine are....something else.  And finally, their cameras cost upward of $2000! Mine were considerably less.  If I spent a couple of thousand on a vintage camera, She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed would have my head mounted on a spear in the front yard.

Now, I truly understand the classic-camera-as-jewelry concept that drives this, but in all seriousness, for that much money I could have a classic Leica, Contax, or Voightlander, a camera that would hold some value in years to come.  I like my old rangefinders, but if one of them went over the side of a canoe, I probably wouldn't dive in after it.  A Leica, on the other hand, would see that I got wet in the next couple of seconds.