Saturday, October 28, 2006

Camera shopping

warning: emo post

I have a Tokina 28-105mm K-mount lens that I purchased for my microscopy work.

For a few months, I've itched for a digital SLR. However, I realised that there is not much point in getting one unless I am prepared to fling out loads of money for the lenses suitable to my style of photography.

Getting an ancient, very simple film SLR would be give more bang for buck. Those with only four controls- film advance, aperture, shutter speed and shutter release. The less electronics the better.

Yesterday afternoon, I went to a camera shop. I brought my lens with me just to be absolutely sure it is a K-mount. While an assistant took my lens to 'the back' in search of a Pentax camera, I wandered around the premises. I stumbled upon a room with its display cabinets stuffed full of Leica goods. Talk about a treasure trove…

The chap returned from the dead, triumphantly clutching a black camera with my lens attached to it. "This is the only Pentax we have at the moment," he said.

For months, this lens had been all alone. Once a potent piece of optical equipment, it now spends most of its time in a quiet corner of my bookshelf. Seeing it attached to a camera was like watching a long-orphaned child reuniting with her biological mother. It was quite emotional.

Look, it's black and red!

Compared to modern SLRs, the camera was remarkably compact. The objects that governed its size were the film canister, film take-up reel, pentaprism and mirror box. No film advance motor, no batteries for the motor, no flash.

I looked through the viewfinder, and was delighted at how large things appear; electronic viewfinders of digital consumer cameras are just too tiny to be satisfying. I cocked the shutter by winding a sprung lever and released the shutter. The metal curtains sprung open and close with an orgasmic click.

Finally, the inevitable question came. "So, how much for this camera?" The salesperson went to his manager in the treasure chamber, where they turned the camera around in their hands for a few moments while conferring among themselves. He came back with news.

"$225 for the body only, with a 3-month warranty."

I convey to him that I like that camera, but $225 is much more than I expected. "Have you got any K-mount Ricoh bodies?" I ask him. They don't; they only stock the best bodies- nothing less than a Pentax, and as a consequence, nothing less than $200.

I thanked him for his time and exited with the orphan-lens in my bag and disappointment in my heart.


Right now, I am looking at the things available on ebay. They are not as expensive as buying from a shop.

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