Thoughts on owning spare cameras.

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by TheGreatGasMaskMan, Dec 29, 2017.

  1. TheGreatGasMaskMan

    TheGreatGasMaskMan Member

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    What do you all think about owning more than one camera? I'm asking this because two weeks ago I broke my Yashica mat 124 G and had to mail it out for repairs. Though I just got it back and don't really have any real photographic plans for these last weeks of the year, I've been thinking, I should probably have a spare medium format camera in the event something like this happens. As for 35mm cameras, I have some not so valuable ones and a Mamiya NC 1000 (though I need to get some sekor lenses for it), in the event I break My Nikormat- Though it's easier and cheaper to find a decent 135 camera vs a 120/220 camera. And, if I broke my digital camera, I could probably just borrow a spare from my college's photography program (though the slight exception would be learning canon, but that's not a big deal). Though I kind of enjoy collection any half decent cameras (no point and shoots unless they have film in them), is my spare camera idea worth considering?
     
  2. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    You need one to use, one as backup, and one as backup for the backup if the user breaks.
     
  3. BradS

    BradS Member

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    ...and a whole bunch more to keep the camera cupboard from floating away. :smile:
     
  4. Luckless

    Luckless Member

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    Spare shutters seems to be more important than specifically spare cameras. I'm strongly considering picking up duplicates of the lenses for my Mamiya TLR lenses before I pick up a second 6x6 body, but that will all depend on budgets and what I find available at the time.

    Then there is also an issue of mindset - I don't own spare cameras, but I do have multiple cameras of the same model. I bought a second 7D years ago after I thought about how much I was spending to travel to events a few times a year, and being able to continue to get some photos out of an away weekend became kind of important. It would really suck to book time off work, travel, hotel, and pay for all my meals on a long weekend just to get there and hear a weird clunk or something on the first shot of the first game. Plus, as a mainly prime shooter it meant that I could have two focal lengths ready to go at any time.

    I'm very much against having 'a spare' camera that sits on a shelf or in the bottom of a gear bag till it is needed, and very big on actively using multiple cameras. It is a little less of a deal with film cameras, as there are less options to fiddle with and configure, but it would still rather suck to pull out a camera 'in an emergency' and surprise! something has dried out/gummed up/or jammed. By having two cameras in a primary role, such that they're both actively used on a regular basis, then you're more likely to notice any developing issue with them.

    And in the digital world it can become even more important to use the two cameras regularly, and ideally have them of the same model. - What kind of settings and changes have you made to the main camera you work with? Pulling out your 'backup' camera when you're already frustrated over the malfunction of your main camera is not the best time to remember that you've since changed some critical setting or reconfigured some functionality. Surprise that button actually does something else!

    Plus have you charged the battery lately?

    It really comes down to "What are you doing, and how boned are you if a camera breaks?". I'll likely end up with multiple large format cameras over the next few decades, but I doubt I'll ever treat any as 'spares' to each other, and be unlikely to lug two along on an single outing.
     
  5. Truzi

    Truzi Member

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    It's always good to have a spare (or more). I've only one medium format and one 4x5, but I have plenty of spare 35mms. Actually, I have a box of spares in case I ever need parts (they are the same or compatible models), but most are functional. To echo Luckless, one of my "spares" that I cleaned up does get rotated into use on occasion - though I've given two away when doing this.

    One thing I should do, which many here already do, is actually take a spare with me when I'm out taking pictures. Since my 35mm uses K-mount lenses, I've been considering a full mechanical spare as it's companion.
     
  6. Born2Late

    Born2Late Subscriber

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    I have somewhere in the neighborhood of 40, so you can probably guess how I feel about it.
     
  7. DWThomas

    DWThomas Subscriber

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    I don't really maintain 1:1 spares, but I do own an assortment of operable cameras. When I travel on any sort of extended trip I normally take some sort of backup camera. I in fact have a 124G which is currently out for a CLA, its Christmas treat! But I have a Bronica SQ-A system, and two folders, a 6x6 and a 6x9. Which one I take to use and which I take for backup depends on mode of travel and subject matter I expect to encounter (and how serious I am being about the whole thing).

    I also have used my Canon A-1 more than usual this past year, even added an FD 10-300 f/5.6 zoom and 2x telextender for an eclipse ramble this summer. I normally also take one of several digital devices for documentation and snapshot use. (It's almost embarrassing how many pictures I've taken with my iPhone 6s on the last couple of excursions.) In TLRs, I also own an early Flexaret that I rescued from the dead in the 1970s, but alas, it needs another rescue and I haven't had time to fool with it (and am unwilling to pay somebody else to do it).

    I've been on several trips overseas where the idea that having a camera act up on a trip that cost $5K and coming home empty handed would seem just totally unacceptable! The first trip was film only and I shared shooting between the above mentioned A-1 and an APS P&S, so that I should wind up with some decent percentage of shots. On later trips I've operated with one film and one, occasionally two, digi-cams; at least with the latter you can see if it stops working while you're out there. (I have been known to swap memory cards before they are full to not put all those eggs in one basket too. More recently I have a kluge that permits copying SD cards to a USB drive using my iPad so I can at least do a little backing up as I go. (Summer 2016 my Faire Spouse and I did a 5800 mile drive from this Philadelphia area to southern Utah and northern Arizona -- with a number of stops along the way -- still haven organized all the results from that one!)
     
  8. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    More important is to keep the cupboard trimmed properly. For instance, if you take one Spotmatic out, you have to shift a couple lenses or a Nikkormat to keep it on an even keel and prevent list.
     
  9. guangong

    guangong Subscriber

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    Even if you sometimes take along more than one camera when photographing, there is one simple, good reason for having spare cameras: the disappearance of stores that sell film cameras. In the good ol’ days, if you dropped your camera over a cliff or left it in a bar you could always go to a camera store an buy another. Nowadays we can only buy used and getting exactly what we want in the condition that we desire is often difficult and time consuming. When a suitable candidate is available, get it. Especially if you have a number of lenses and accessories specific to your camera. Of course, as several have already noted, it is important to make sure that backups don’t become shelf babies.
     
  10. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    spares these days are a lot less expensive than they used to be !
    that said i once bought a spare speed graphic, just in case
    my FP shutter stopped and realized it had been used for more than 40 years
    before i got it, and then another 15 afterwards .. and then i sold the extra to a friend
    sometimes spares are a great idea but sometimes there isn't really a point ..
    ( except to enjoy another .. camera/lens &c )
     
  11. Cholentpot

    Cholentpot Member

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    I have a spare SLR, spare TLR, spare 6x6, spare point and shoot, spare rangefinder, spare scale focus, and I have spares for all these.

    Joking aside, I have two Pentax K1000's, an ME Super and a K mount Promaster. One summers day the K1000 had a jammed shutter, the Super had battery contact problems, and the Promaster's batteries ran flat. No problem! Picked up my spare K1000! These cameras are getting old and I know that they'll bite the dust at some point, the more the merrier.
     
  12. Theo Sulphate

    Theo Sulphate Subscriber

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    It's wise to have multiple copies of the same camera - its use becomes intuitive. As stated above, use each of them regularly. Also, you can have them loaded with different film or have different lenses and filters on them to handle whatever photographic situation you encounter.
     
  13. blockend

    blockend Member

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    Multiple film camera ownership is mainly a digital era phenomenon. Yes, quite a few people owned two, and a professional might have three in the same less mount, but the vast majority of keen amateur photographers used one camera - in any film format. Camera proliferation is the result of cheapness and availability, novelty seeking, plus a dash of neurosis. The worst that could happen was a camera was stolen or lost, and the owner had to buy another. Now good examples are stored for posterity, leaving lots of worn cameras and a desire for redundancy and multiplication.

    It's hard to say definitively but I suspect camera variation has a slight negative effect on familiarity and speed of use.
     
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  15. faberryman

    faberryman Subscriber

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    I have never been a professional, but I have had at least two film bodies since the 1970s. I don't think that is all that unusual for serious amateurs even back in the day. I'm not currently hoarding any for posterity.
     
  16. blockend

    blockend Member

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  17. faberryman

    faberryman Subscriber

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    I was taking issue with your statement:
    Maybe we just have different ideas about what is "keen photographer" is.
     
  18. blockend

    blockend Member

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    I'm not sure why.
     
  19. faberryman

    faberryman Subscriber

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    Because I didn't think your statement that "the vast majority of keen amateur photographers used one camera" was true. Like I said, perhaps we have different ideas about what a "keen amateur" is.
     
  20. blockend

    blockend Member

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    Of the group of "serious" photographers I knew from the 1970s onwards, many of whom exhibited in galleries, most used one main camera. Of the Leica owners, I knew a single individual with more than one Leica. I wasn't claiming multiple ownership of cameras in the same mount was rare, I am saying of the people I knew - committed, non-camera club types with access to a darkroom - the majority used one camera. Quite a few mainly used one lens, generally a 50, 35 or 28mm. Multiple film camera and camera system ownership of the kind that is common now was unusual among the people I knew.

    I'd be surprised if more than 10% of SLR users owned more than one camera in the same lens mount.
     
  21. oldtimermetoo

    oldtimermetoo Subscriber

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    I hesitate to say this, but if I had a Yeshica MF, I would definitely have a spare, like maybe a Rolleicord or Rolleiflex , or maybe even a Hasselblad.....Regards!
     
  22. oldtimermetoo

    oldtimermetoo Subscriber

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    0---00000---
    After over 50 years as a "Serious Amateur", I only have one of each camera model that I own. One Leica M2, M3, one Rolleicord, etc.....Regards!
     
  23. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I used to photograph weddings - I wouldn't have considered going to a job without a backup.
    But now, I think having another working camera available - format doesn't matter much - provides enough extra security.
    So the only reason to own additional cameras is that it is fun to use them.
     
  24. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Ever since I could afford it I've had a backup or second camera -- I don't think of them as spares -- but not backup or second systems. The OP mentioned getting a Mamiya as a backup for a Nikkormat. This is insane. One set of lenses with more than one body that accepts them makes much better sense than an incompatible second body with its own lenses.

    My 35 mm slrs have all been Nikons of one sort or another. Bodies have come and gone, lenses have stayed. Main camera has been a Nikkormat or equivalent (think FM), second has been a shutter-priority automatic exposure SLR with stepless shutter speeds to hang behind a mirror lens (think EM, FG, most recently N8008s). No real need for a backup, these cameras just don't break, not-quite imaginary need for better exposure with the mirror lens.

    When I shot Super 8 I always had a backup camera because aged S8 cameras can be very flaky. I still have two Beaulieus. And I've had specialized cameras. Transporting a housing for my first main camera, a Canon AZ 814LS, got to be too much so I broke down and bought a used Nautica. Not the OP's situation at all.

    With press and view cameras things are a little different. After I got my 2x3 Pacemaker Speed Graphic I found that I needed a short 2x3 Graphic (I got a Century, a 2x3 Crown would have done as well) to be able to use lenses too short to make infinity on the Speed. No need for a backup, these cameras don't break. Leaf shutters fail, but that's a different problem. A while ago I was given a 2x3 Cambo view camera. I now have two and a half of them and a 4x5 -- I had my reasons -- but only one 2x3 leaves home. Again, the basic camera just doesn't break. I have only slightly more than one 2x3 system, I have a board for the Cambo that accepts lenses on 2x3 Pacemaker Graphic boards. I have only one lens for that my Cambos that isn't on a 2x3 Graphic board; it can't be used on a 2x3 Graphic.
     
  25. I have never felt the need to have a spare and therefore I do not have one. However if you are inclined to have one, the go ahead and buy one. Today's costs are so low that the financial part is trivial.
     
  26. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    I believe in having a spare for important events. A friend and I shared five Nikons or Nikkormats plus a Pentax to utilize a fine 400mm lens on a three week photo vacation in the Great American West. I also brought a Leica RF kit. The Nikon gear was loaded with Kodachrome Tech Pan, and fast & slow continuous tone film. When one battered Nikon finally quit, we managed to get by with only four. Such back-up is less important for digital photographers with ISO options and decent zoom lenses. The rapid improvements in their cameras make upgrading every few years desirable, and the semi-retired DSLR serves well as a back-up.