DON'T STEP ON MY BLUE SUEDE SHOE PRINTS.
In this current and somewhat wonderful, “wild wild west” of a world, where modern made plastic cameras roll along in the roaring winds like tumble weeds in bundles of pastel pinks, blues, yellows and teals. I sit here reflecting on these current times wondering, If I had a way to make one new camera come to life as a continuation on a series or a one off, what would I choose? Now just in case that was confusing, let me take a minute to clarify. I was looking online, of course, at cameras, TLRs, SLRs, and I kept coming across one of my favorite medium format TLRs, the Mamiya C330. I’m always scrolling to find the picture of the bellows. Not every seller extends the bellows for a photo and that is a make or break moment when looking for these for me. Then I had the thought, what would it be like if Mamiya, or someone put out a follow up camera!!? What would it be called? The Mamiya C450, Mamiya mega deluxe super slapper?! Dang, I just don’t know, but what an idea huh?
An example of Frankensteining a mental image of something that maybe should never see the light of day!
When I was in High school, lets say 2003-2004, I started a class that was teaching, I believe the first version of Photoshop. For as many of my assignments that I could swing it, I would make these fantasy show flyers. I did make one real show flyer for some friends’ bands, but that’s besides the point. These Fantasy shows were practically fancy lists of dream concerts. Some bands that would make the show list were Minor Threat, D.R.I., Artificial Peace, Ill Repute, Reagan Youth, The Pist and so on. If you are familiar with any of those bands, there are some listed that were still somewhat active back then, so it was more about seeing them in their hay day. It was a paper dream, time machine. I would walk around school from class to class and think up the perfect show, cater to my state of mind that day, that week, knowing I was most likely going to sit in that class and make another one of those damn flyers. It was great. A great project for expanding my knowledge of photo shop and getting better grades, no way, but for fun and creating something that felt fulfilling, you betcha!
Another example image, of self limiting the imaginative.
This camera idea is similar to me. Not a real, actualized thing, but just a screen dream, time machine. What company do I think best suits this mission, could they handle it and produce the perfect predecessor to another perfect, yet very old camera? Would the camera be an older model that I’d want the inspiration to come from? What model would I want this company or genius works person to run with? There are quite a few people and companies making cameras these days, but it is all so different. None of that high end stuff is being pumped out. Metal parts and interchangeable parts and cameras suited for todays photographer. There are some well made lenses being made, but a lot of those I can’t afford. There is intrepid and other large format makers, and Ethan of Cameradactyl, and that one company, Reflex I believe, that was trying to do something, but honestly I think they were trying to put too much into a film camera and not enough of the right stuff. What film photographer needs Bluetooth capabilities built into their camera. I guess with an off camera flash that could be beneficial? I’m sure people would’ve found use for that, I just can’t see it from my side of the fence. I’m pretty darn basic. There are loads of 3D printed parts and bodies and customizable things being made, and codes/templates being shared and it really is a great time to be alive and experience all the communication and updates and changes, good and bad, and newness and oldness being wriggled out of the wood work. People are trying, I mean really trying to get this going again, and I believe it’s working. Even with the “higher and higher baby” film prices, and certain film stocks being shot into space to perhaps, never be seen again by the pro or even amateur photographer. There are positives. There are a lot of us out there who are thinking, seeing, feeling and navigating this rugged, seemingly desolate western landscape. I believe the secret sauce is the raspberry jam running down our screens when we surf the great WWW. Even if we don’t like what we see, even if raspberry is our least favorite flavor and we feel hopeless, these feelings can lead to the right passion driven thoughts and those with the resources, connections, drive and I just have to say it, the right brains, can, will and are finding ways to make these things that we are slowly having to learn to live without come back, at least in some way. Even if its something that is a shadow of itself like new Polaroid, that is a clear indication that the wheels are spinning and that something is happening and that things will keep changing and being altered till its just what the doctor, or in this case film photographer ordered.
After all this deliberation and to and fro in my mind, I do have faith that there will eventually be a manufacturer who finds a way to work within the bounds of whatever budget they can gather through kick starter or what not and create a very nice, well made, durable and beautiful camera for us all to enjoy. And I’m not just talking about the people who can drop $1500 or more on a camera either, a consumer/prosumer body, ooo lala! Won’t that be nice?!
Talking about new cameras, I will share with you my dream.
I think it would be a 35mm camera, Body size similar to a Canon Demi half frame. With the capability of having interchangeable lenses like the Mercury II half frame camera. With a third and important touch and feature. A mask, like those cropped panoramic point and shoots, but for half frame. Like the Argus HFM I, but with no electronics. It would be amazing to have it have a genuine Panoramic mask as well like the X-pan, and a 3rd lens pairing, but that might be….well wait! This is my dream, yeah throw that in there too! A solid, yet light, well made camera, with a shoe for attaching a light meter for those who want it. A flash sync port, and the ability to shoot full frame, half frame and panoramic with 3 lenses in the line up and maxed out shutter speeds of 1/1000th. What’s the lowest Aperture of all three lenses you ask? F1.4, Why not? I could see it happening.
Anyway, I hope this article didn’t lose you way back, and if so, that’s fine. It’s a dream article, it can be forgotten, its almost like it never happened at all. Lets just all go back to sleep and wake up refreshed and in this world tomorrow where film and cameras and support and ideas and people making awesome things continue to exist. Things that help us hold onto beauty just that much longer, and give us joy just imagining up just how fun it all really already is.
What’s your DREAM CAMERA?! I’d love to know!
“Higher and Higher baby” – ELO ‘Livin’ Thing’
“Raspberry Jam” – Space Balls 1987
“Wild Wild West” – Will Smith and Kevin Kline, The Wild Wild West 1999