David Collyer is not a cheapskate. But…

by David Collyer.

“One of my passions is trawling charity shops to see what I can find. If I say so myself, I’m pretty good at this!”.


There are pros and cons to film photography, in much the same way that there are with shooting digital. If I’m shooting commercially, more often than not I’ll primarily use a digital camera and then back it up with a few analogue shots. I was doing some promo work for the band Stone Sole River at the weekend, and I fired off around 200 RAW files with a Fuji XT-2 and two rolls of Delta 400 in my Bronica S2. Square format makes for good record covers!

The other day something dawned on me that I’ve never really given any serious thought to before. We’ve recently come out of lockdown in the UK, and one of my passions is trawling charity shops to see what I can find. If I say so myself, I’m pretty good at this. I seem to have the Midas touch when it comes to unearthing treasure. I went out with high expectations knowing that the charity shops would have had weeks off to process stock, and I wasn’t disappointed. One day I found an Olympus XA with flash for £35; I love the XA series cameras! The next day I unearthed something I’d never seen before, a strange looking black plastic Voigtlander Vito C, also with a detachable flash unit. This time I forked out the princely sum of £10. I loaded both up with some expired HP5+ that I have in my fridge and went to work.

Back to my aforementioned thought. I have fantastic cameras at my disposal. Leicas, Canons, Bronicas, etcetera, etcetera. These are the tools I use every day, yet I was still thrilled to find these two fairly humble cameras, and load them with out of date celluloid, and start shooting to see what they could do, to see if they still function. Now this is one of analogue photography’s greatest pros. No photographer who relies on digital equipment, let’s say the industry standard Canon 5D Mark iv (a great camera), ever finds a cheap, out of date, old digital camera, with a slow and limited capacity SD card, and buys it with a big grin, looking forward to putting it through its paces. Digital photography is all about upgrading, moving on, getting more megapixels and faster download speeds. My Leica M3 has a reputation as being the best camera ever made, and its over sixty years old, yet still I got immense pleasure from using the Voigtlander for the first time, and when I’ve used it subsequently. We are very lucky in this respect. There is no built in obsolescence with analogue. If it works, it works.

As analogue shooters we have the world at our fingertips, and an endless supply of vintage cameras of varying degrees of quality to play with, and a wide range of formats. Hell, some people even enjoy shooting 110! Next on my list to use is a Pentax IQZoom 105 WR, I’m just waiting for a suitably foul day to see if it’s as weatherproof as it boasts. Living in Wales, that shouldn’t be in the too far distant future.

So, whatever analogue gems you have at your disposal, don’t forget that you can have just as much fun with a cheap point and shoot, and if I can gain international media coverage, and ultimately, be writing for this magazine because of photos I took with a camera that cost me £5, what more excuse do you need?

Images © David Collyer 2021.

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