When Scott brought over his vintage Rolleiflex, I could tell how much he truly liked that camera. He's a very modern guy in many ways, except when it comes to his photography.
"I had a Nikon D80, and it was fine," he said. "But I really got tired of trying to figure out all of the complicated menus." This is from a man who has a degree in chemistry and runs a medical lab. "So I gave the Nikon to my daughter and have been shooting Tri-X in the Rollei ever since. I'm much happier now."
How could that be? Film cameras, record players, old cars... they're all a pain in the ass, aren't they?
Apparently not for everyone.
If you hang out on Etsy or any number of similar sites, you'll see that there are many who don't want their free-time activities to be too electronic. There's something about gears and belts that are more comforting than silicon chips.
"If you open up this camera," Scott said pointing to the Rolleiflex sitting on the table at my studio, "you'd see a mechanism that's like the inside of a watch. It's amazing at how these were crafted."
Yes indeed. Yet, I couldn't fix a broken Rollei any better than a malfunctioning iPhone. But I would at least recognize the components. "Maybe it's that gear there," I would say cautiously as I pointed to it.
When I was browsing Etsy last night, I looked at the original PEN-Fs. These half-frame beauties are what Olympus drew inspiration from for their latest release. Both versions are handsome. And in some ways, the newer model is even more so. It's a refined work that honors its lineage.
(My great uncle gave me my first serious camera. I'll always remember him for that.)
For me, the retro aesthetic is the best of both worlds. It's an homage to the ingenuity and craftsmanship of decades past, combined with the agility of modern technology.
Don't get me wrong: I'm not ready to go back to shooting all film. But I do like to partake every now and then. I want to remember my roots.
My career was nurtured by the talents of many before me. And I want my work to build upon that great tradition. Retro is part of that.