At the beginning of 2020 I entertained the idea of doing the One Camera, One Lens, One Year thing. That was a silly idea. Do I even know me?
I go through periods during which I lack inspiration when it comes to photography. Grabbing a different camera sometimes helps snap me out of a slump.
I have a collection of wonderful film cameras. I spent some time thinking about which of them I actually enjoy using, beyond simple novelty, and thought I'd list them here.
Graphlex Crown Graphic
This Crown Graphic is pretty beat up, covered in gaffer tape, and a pain in the ass to use. I love it. There is nothing like a 4x5 negative. I often contact print them onto 5x7 paper because I think they look cool like that. This is a camera meant for a tripod and slow, considered photography.
Canon's last, greatest film SLR was the EOS-1v. Introduced in 2000 and sold until (I think) 2018. It's built very well, feels good in hand, meters well, focuses fast, and just works. It's the camera I use most often with color or slide film. I have a big flash with it, and fully automatic TTL is handy. Also, autofocus is useful.
The Hasselblad V series are works of art and engineering marvels. This one is a 500C/M, built in 1990. I've recently had it CLA'd by David Odess and it is wonderful. There's nothing like the Ker-Chunk! of that big mirror slapping around in there. The 80mm Zeiss Planar might be my all-time favorite lens. This camera is mostly for portraits but sometimes it's fun just walking around using the square format to make interesting pictures.
I have the Hasselblad 503CXi (made in 1995) because it offers TTL flash. The Hasselblad system is so interchangeable that, along with the 500C/M, I have a super flexible system. That Zeiss 150 Sonnar is perfect for tight portraits.
My copy of the Leica M6 is special in that it is one of the last 10 “Classic” M6 bodies ever produced (1998). It has had the finder optics upgraded to the flare-free “MP” version. The only framelines displayed are 28, 35, and 50mm. This makes for a bright, beautiful, clutter-free viewfinder. I tend to choose this M6 over the M3 when I'm shooting wider than 50mm or if I'm lazy and want a built-in meter.
Is there a more iconic series of cameras than the Nikon F? Mine is a 1983 F3 with the "high eyepoint" (HP) finder. The Nikon is used mostly now with color film so I don't worry about exposure as much. The meter and aperture-priority exposure work great. I have a Nikkor 105 f/2.5 lens that is tough to beat for portraits. Sometimes I attach the motor drive (not shown) and it feels like fast, metal, brick. This camera doesn't get used as much as the others lately, which sounds like a great excuse to take it for a spin soon.
The Polaroid SX-70 might be the coolest camera I own. If I'm being honest, it's not that great to actually use, though. I've had it CLA'd and the newer Polaroid (formerly Impossible) film has gotten better, but it's something I only bring when I'm feeling nostalgic. Still, it's a marvel of engineering and quite beautiful. I also use the Polaroid OneStep2 occasionally. If the film was better, I'd use it often. It's a little bulky though. The little Instax SQ6 is in my bag most of the time. It shoots small, square instant photos and I love making portraits of people I'm with and handing them the print to take home.
I love this Leica M3 so much. It was built in 1960, making it half a decade older than me. I recently had a CLA done by DAG (Don Goldberg) and wow, it's so smooth and solid-feeling. Also, just look at it! It only ever sees the 50mm Summicron because the M3 was basically made for 50mm lenses. The viewfinder/rangefinder is still amazing and bright. This is the camera I most often have with me. There's no meter or battery and that's the way I like it. I use it for everything.
I'm so very fortunate to have such a wonderful set of cameras, and I have no legitimate excuse for not shooting all the time.
The One Camera, One Lens, One Year plan is a fine idea, but doesn't quite suit me. Maybe some day.