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Do we value cameras as tools or objects? New exhibition asks the question

By dpreview staff on Jan 18, 2013 at 20:56 GMT

Do we value cameras for their form, or their function? An exhibition in Philadelphia which features hundreds of camera sculptures made from a range of different materials aims to examine this question. 'Reach Ruin', which is showing at The Fabric Workshop in Philadelphia features several camera sculptures, created from carved stone, glass, chalk and sand.

A Pentax K1000 made of chalk - one of the exhibits at 'Reach Ruin' an exhibition currently running at the Fabric Workshop in Philadelphia. 

According to the artist, Daniel Arsham, 'much of the time when we think about what a camera does, we think of it as a producer of images' but as well as being a photographic tool, 'many of us that use photography have a relationship with the object. If you want, call it a fetish'.

An army of plaster Nikkormat FTs. The exhibition aims to reduce cameras to their form rather than their function and asks the question how we interact with them as objects, rather than tools for creation. 

The sculptures in Reach Ruin are unpainted, and reflect their constituent materials. Arsham, who is colorblind, explains that 'the reduction of color allows audiences to experience the formal qualities of things'. By reducing cameras to their form alone, the exhibition raises the possibility that these tools, invented to create art, are themselves an artform. And even if you don't completely buy into that theory, we think there's something fascinating about seeing armies of stone Pentax K1000s and Nikkormats lined up in an exhibition space. Let us know what you think in the comments. Do you collect cameras because you need them, or because you want them?

Reach Ruin runs at the Fabric Warehouse in Philadelphia until mid-March. Click here for more details

(via Wired.com be sure to bookmark its excellent Raw File blog). 

Comments

Total comments: 137
12
shutterhappens
By shutterhappens (Jan 30, 2013)

A photographer values cameras as tools. A camera nut values them as objects.

0 upvotes
lowbay
By lowbay (Jan 26, 2013)

My cameras as christmas bauble and in chocolade:

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=470687572996241&set=a.332557090142624.78889.100001650089131&type=1&theater

0 upvotes
mickeybphoto
By mickeybphoto (Jan 24, 2013)

I value them as both tools and objects. But the reason why I value them as objects is because of how they were used as a tool. The beauty of them does come from the appreciation of them as a whole. Much like a car collectors like old cars. I have over a hundred older and antique cameras and just really like the look too. Very nestalgic look and feel, from Beau Brownies to a WWII Kodak 35. Different applications and looks but both served the same purpose. The over all appearence is just appealing to me. Maybe cause I can realate to how they were used. A thing of beauty for me was a Nikon F4s. Pretty much obsolite now, but man it sure looks awsome.

0 upvotes
munro harrap
By munro harrap (Jan 23, 2013)

This is plain daft. Want/need are irrelevant here. Yes, if you duplicate devices that produce the same quality of image the same way, it's you daft as you do not need them, but there are cameras whose results justify owning them because the results have a particular quality or can do some things v.well. Like Nikon 950 for macro and a Ricoh i700 because you can go online with it and send handwritten notes, and because it has a 3" screen and good rechargeable batteries AND produces images that are special to it by nature.

This is not art, but a symtom of mental ill-health, and like much art, just plain vanity- it's "look at me" stuff without merit. My sympathies go out to all involved.

0 upvotes
rurikw
By rurikw (Jan 22, 2013)

Memorials to the mechanical heroes of the age of analog photography. The idea may have occurred to a thousand people but the artist is the one who executes it and does it well. Good work.

1 upvote
wuchmee
By wuchmee (Jan 22, 2013)

This same question can be asked regarding computers and cell phones. We tend to objectify these things and lose sight of their (basically) utilitarian nature.

0 upvotes
Carbon111
By Carbon111 (Jan 22, 2013)

I think it's interesting that the majority of the comments here imply that many photographers don't really like or even "get" modern art. I would have thought the opposite would be true. I guess I see a "nude descending a staircase" where others see "an explosion in a shingle factory"... ;)

2 upvotes
SRT201
By SRT201 (Jan 22, 2013)

Actually I can appreciate Albert Bierstadt and still like Jackson Pollock if you need examples. It's not that I don't "get" modern art it's just that I don't accept everything done with intention as "art". The guy next door drilling holes in a 2x4 does not contend that he is an artist but someone dancing around breaking chalk cameras claims it's art. I have always loved art in many forms but I believe the art world's biggest problem is it's reticence to police it's ranks.

0 upvotes
Gary Zuercher
By Gary Zuercher (Jan 22, 2013)

I remember a man who came by my exhibit at the Festival of Arts in Laguna Beach, CA a few years ago with a $7000 Leica M9 hanging around his neck. I could appreciate his camera both as a tool and as an example of industrial design, but to him it was merely another form of expensive jewelry. BTW, I never did see him use it.

0 upvotes
SRT201
By SRT201 (Jan 22, 2013)

Certainly many photographers gain an affinity for their cameras or brands. It's only natural to respect the design of a tool that performs a useful function and does it well. Few pros are able to remain completely dispassionate about their gear. If no such affinity existed DPReview wouldn't have forums divided into brands and camera types.

Did we really need silly avante garde performance "art" to illuminate this obvious conclusion?

How about a new exhibit where cameras made of cheese are fed to wombats in order to make people consider how they feel about wombats eatings cheese cameras... Nah, that would just be stupid.

I must admit my surprise that none of the cameras were made from dung. It's shocking! Positively brilliant!... they would say.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
1 upvote
CTaylorTX
By CTaylorTX (Jan 22, 2013)

A very interesting topic. Yes, the link to an old favorite camera is strong. In that light, I just want to comment that the plaster Nikkormats depicted are actually FTn models, as that model featured the addition of the sculptured plastic tip of the film advance lever. The earlier FT had only the flat metal lever. My first camera was, of course, a Nikkormat FTn.....

0 upvotes
Hennie de Ruyter
By Hennie de Ruyter (Jan 22, 2013)

How much of what you buy you really need? I need oxygen, basic food, water and shelter.
Life would be rather boring if we think this way.

0 upvotes
RealPancho
By RealPancho (Jan 22, 2013)

Musicians view their instruments as more than mere tools. B. B. King, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eric Clapton, and many others named their guitars, cherishing them above their status as inanimate objects. It's only natural that photographers, making art as they do, would experience some emotional feelings about their cameras.

I no longer use it, but I will always have a special place in my heart for my 1975 OM-1.

1 upvote
Tape5
By Tape5 (Jan 22, 2013)

''It's only natural that photographers, making art as they do, would experience emotional feelings about their cameras.''

I think 99.9% of photographers would not see art if one slowly crawled up their nose. Being a photographer does not make anyone an artist.

Also how do you explain men who experience some emotional feelings about thier BBQ machines?

0 upvotes
NancyP
By NancyP (Jan 21, 2013)

I am a little puzzled because the link to the gallery has no hint of this artist's work on camera as object. The Wired article has nothing BUT the artist's work on camera as object.

The crushed glass camera is rather appropriate, given photography's dependence on glass.

Some of the historical view cameras are indeed beautiful craft objects akin to fine carpentry(Deardorff). The craft tradition continues today in the wooden view cameras made by small companies in China (Shen Hao). Some of the mass-produced cameras are landmarks in industrial design. Does anyone remember the black-and-white plastic Polaroid Swinger camera? or the simple brown bakelite box camera, Kodak Brownie?

I am not a collector of cameras, but think that the history of cameras and processes is part of a photographic education.

2 upvotes
MarshallG
By MarshallG (Jan 21, 2013)

A good camera is most surely a work of art. It's beauty is sublime; a mixture of texture we can feel and hold in our hands, a sculpture of kinetic mechanical-optical-electronic engineering merged into a thing of beauty which lets us create things of beauty. We hold these artworks in our hands, and they talk to us; through their design they help us capture light and form into art. They project imagery into our eyes for our creative inner selves to process; how will this appear on paper, how will this appear on-screen?

Twenty years after Chinese manufacturing gutted Japanese manufacturing, the SLR remains quintessentially Japanese; and origami-like folding of glass, metal, and silicon meshing together in precision-milled helicoils, springs and gears, producing those satisfying clicks and whirs of mechanical perfection.

Is a camera art? Thank heavens, yes! Thank the heavens, and Japan, and Canon, Nikon and Olympus. How empty and I satisfying our lives would be if it were any other way.

1 upvote
Knorp
By Knorp (Jan 21, 2013)

Canon, Nikon, Olympus ? Really ? I prefer the Leica way :)
That said, I'm pretty happy too with my OMD and K5.
Kind regards,
Bart

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 55 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Bossanova
By Bossanova (Jan 21, 2013)

It is a balance between both. The market for the particular model will tell you load and clear with their dollar votes which is a greater priority for each category. But rest assured that a feature reach, well designed control layout with a flair for style and visual appeal will always do well. Style trends are always a challenge to anticipate and come and go...but performance stands the test of time.

0 upvotes
Peter K Burian
By Peter K Burian (Jan 21, 2013)

A camera is a tool but I must admit I love the look of certain cameras, like the Nikon D4. But I am not interested in seeing stone Pentax cameras ... even though I did learn photography with a Pentax Spotmatic.

0 upvotes
GeorgeD200
By GeorgeD200 (Jan 21, 2013)

Welcome to CAPITALISM. Marketing is designed to make consumers value products over and above their "use" value. That's what makes us covet new cameras before our old camera is obsolete (a questionable concept itself) or broken.
Anyone who has ever "loved" a camera has fetishized it. Karl Marx predicted this phenomenon over 100 years ago, but I doubt he foresaw what heights it would reach.
That said, almost everyone in America does this, myself included. My cameras are prized possessions, far beyond their use value.

0 upvotes
a Michael
By a Michael (Jan 21, 2013)

I'm pretty sure people liked objects for their aesthetics and not just their "use" value long before Capitalism came around a few hundred years ago. Did the Pharoahs build pyramids and load them with gold and art because of their "use" value? And as a friend of mine who grew up behind the iron curtain told me, he could always tell who the communist leaders' kids were because they wore Levi jeans.

In short, please stop blaming Capitalism for something that falls under human nature.

3 upvotes
waxwaine
By waxwaine (Jan 21, 2013)

Greed is another human phenomenom. Don´t blame greed?

0 upvotes
DenisBBergeron
By DenisBBergeron (Jan 21, 2013)

It's a tool.
I need spec to buy a camera or a lens.
I need functionality and ergonomic to use it.

I choose everything like that, car, house, wife...

0 upvotes
Tape5
By Tape5 (Jan 21, 2013)

A camera is made of three components:

Its physical attributes ie wt, form, size, ergonomics etc
Its photo-electronic attributes ie lens, sensor, processing etc
And its cultrual attributes ie as an accessory, its popularity, its iconic appeal

These three all interact and influence what pictures are taken using the camera. Each one factor can be adequate justification for many to purchase the camera and they all interact with each other.

Further, strength in each category of attributes can be seen as justification for insufficiencies in other categories.

But after all, the brain that is wired to the finger that presses the shutter remains the most important part of a camera.

0 upvotes
WeddingEtCetera Com
By WeddingEtCetera Com (Jan 21, 2013)

I am sorry but nothing new in this world. An another aspect on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YImHqzVJ9GY and
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9BIuckJWYiM and filmed with a DMC-GH3.
Cheers...

0 upvotes
h2k
By h2k (Jan 21, 2013)

I prefer an ugly, but well-functioning camera very much over a smart-looking thing with photographic deficiencies.

I am always amazed at how much people rave about the looks of a cam without considering if the apparatus is easily held in your hand etc.

0 upvotes
T3
By T3 (Jan 21, 2013)

"easily held in your hand" is completely-- and unreliably-- subjective. For example, people can rave about how "easily held in your hand" an old Nikkormat FT or Leica M is, even though they are practically devoid of any of the ergonomic design elements that we expect from modern cameras.

0 upvotes
BBking83
By BBking83 (Jan 21, 2013)

Arbitrary article is arbitrary.

The conclusion can only be drawn by the operator, not the product itself.

1 upvote
AmaturFotografer
By AmaturFotografer (Jan 21, 2013)

Am I a fetish? Because I value my DSLR as an object I think. As a photographic tool, I use my phone and P & S most of the time. Oh no..

2 upvotes
Paul B Jones
By Paul B Jones (Jan 21, 2013)

I love my cameras but also fear them, worried that they will break or be stolen.

1 upvote
brdeveloper
By brdeveloper (Jan 21, 2013)

That's why we have tons of backup cameras :P

1 upvote
MarcMedios
By MarcMedios (Jan 20, 2013)

I think that the answer is obvious; there is a huge number of photographers who prize the object over its functionality. If not, why would people buy those failed Leicas X's, the non-interchangeable lens + no viewfinder ILS's, etc. Obviously, they are purchased by people who value the object more than the functionality, if not, we would see buyers insist on "de rigueur" things like interchangeable lenses, viewfinders, lower costs...

But, to each his/her own, I suppose

2 upvotes
Richard Schumer
By Richard Schumer (Jan 20, 2013)

I have bought cameras for their form AND as tools. Over the years, I have sold off the pretty ones and kept the tools. This year, due to an overabundance of funds, I bought another pretty one: a black-and-shiny-chrome Olympus E-PM1.

My Pentax system are my tools. But it's all pug-ugly.

I can polish and shine the Oly shamelessly, wishing I could afford another whose form is very similar and which may be the most comfortable, ergonomic, and aesthetically-pleasing camera ever made: a Leica I, II, or III up to but not including the IIIg. Not only beautiful and finely finished, its proportions were probably perfect, visually.

It reminds me, in a way, of a Jaguar XK120 or Studebaker Starlite Coupe, 1953-4.

Just perfect. I'll get one eventually, but it had better be in working condition!

Comment edited 3 times, last edit 9 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Deleted pending purge
By Deleted pending purge (Jan 21, 2013)

I like your "overabundance of funds", that's a big widener of considerations. As it constantly doesn't happen to me, I have always had to think about the camera versatility, disregarding other aspects. This I find useful, since the few cameras I have now get to be more frequently used.
And the camera one uses is the best of all.

0 upvotes
Richard Schumer
By Richard Schumer (Jan 21, 2013)

<<And the camera one uses is the best of all.>>

You're right, there. That was my rationale for buying the Olympus: ir was small enough to carry around unobtrusively like I used to carry a Pentax film ME-Super decades ago.

My Pentax DSLR was way too big for that, especially with any zoom. The E-PM1 with its kit zoom is a little smaller overall than my film Pentaxes with 28mm or 50mm FFL lens.

I do use it more than my Pentax, which I still lug around when I go to a location. But there's plenty of room in the glove compartment of my car or in a jacket pocket for the Oly, its kit zoom, the EVF-2, and the 9-18mm zoom, too.

The bottom line: I use the Pentax as much as I always have, and added the Oly for street shooting and quick-and-dirty snapshots while on the road.

And, from time to time, for just putting on shelf and admiring. It would look very handsome with a Voigtlander 35mm f:2,5 Color-Skopar, don't you think?

Comment edited 6 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Scorpius1
By Scorpius1 (Jan 20, 2013)

I value them as both tools and objects.. each to their own opinion

1 upvote
ciao_chao
By ciao_chao (Jan 20, 2013)

If we valued cameras as purely as tools, then I wonder whether cameras could've progressed beyond the basic large format view camera. Perhaps form has come as a by-product of improving a camera's function, however it does come hand in hand with the appreciation of design.

Nikon would not have commissioned Giorgetto Guigaro to create their F-series cameras if they hadn't deemed form a critical element of a cameras function.

1 upvote
FredericG
By FredericG (Jan 20, 2013)

Some people value cameras as tools, others as objects, and others as both.
I tend to value the camera as object when it proves to be a good tool.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 3 minutes after posting
1 upvote
digilux
By digilux (Jan 20, 2013)

It saved his life, it looks great and became a piece of art.......and it's not made of sand or plaster:
http://www.wemadethis.co.uk/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/don_mccullin_nikon.jpg

0 upvotes
MELTEMI
By MELTEMI (Jan 20, 2013)

As a collector of about 30 old cameras I keep them only if they are in working condition; even if I do not take pictures I like to think I could do.. I even like to open them and try to repair or check shutter if possible. For some cameras (like 16mm or Minox) I even keep some film in fridge, which was noe easy to find specially for the 16mm with perforation only on one side. In a few words I like to collect tools. A working camera is a tool and becomes an object if it is an attrappe or it is no more in working conditions.

1 upvote
TimK5
By TimK5 (Jan 20, 2013)

I couldn't care less about the design and look of a camera, otherwise I wouldn't use an OM-D.

1 upvote
bodziu
By bodziu (Jan 20, 2013)

Wow! It would look great in TATE's hall, hope it will be successful enough to show it in the UK as well! I really like the form representation, especially in sarcastic whiteish colours... Thx for this news!

I always keep thepreviousmodel feeling somehow attached to it and form is one of the aspects that contributes to that (familyannoying) collecting habit;-)
apart from that, I am delighted that technology contributed to the return of the pre-digital form factor in cameras design where bulky, alwaysblack and buttonsfull (hedgehogish) DSLR body is being replaced by compact, solid and easier to operate design, where LENS with rotating rings is back;-)

0 upvotes
RichardBalonglong
By RichardBalonglong (Jan 20, 2013)

Why not both need and want?
I need a camera and lens to produce what's in my vision.
I want a camera and lens that fits my own personal taste.

1 upvote
jj74e
By jj74e (Jan 20, 2013)

Kind of a stupid point. People lust over cars, laptops, houses, etc. Why are cameras any different? :P

1 upvote
alexpaynter
By alexpaynter (Jan 20, 2013)

There are many kinds of beauty. Two which apply here are beauty of form and beauty of function. Maybe beauty of craftsmanship also. The Italian's have a reputation for beauty of form. The German's for beauty of function and craftsmanship.

If someone makes a 10 times zoom lens with 19 elements and someone makes the same lens with 10 elements in a package half the size with the same quality and usability I will buy the latter because there is beauty in simplicity of design. Perhaps we could call this Occam's beauty or OKcam beauty.

There is a beauty in having all buttons and switches in the right positions. There is beauty in having logical menus with icons that have meaning or with words to describe those functions.

There is also beauty in the status quo. If we accept that the Leica is beautiful then the design should incorporate the ability to change sensor and processor easily. That would make it more beautiful or perhaps elegant.

In any case this argument is quite sane in comparison to hifi.

2 upvotes
harley13
By harley13 (Jan 20, 2013)

One should also feel good when one holds the camera, it inspires.

1 upvote
alexpaynter
By alexpaynter (Jan 20, 2013)

I hear many "serious" photographers who say they just want a camera with full control and no fancy features like wifi or 3G etc. They claim to be about the photography but often they are caught up in the style of a camera.

I like control over a camera but it can be done just as easily or more so through a touch screen. We
Just have to find a logical way to do this. It has been done on phones somewhat successfully. There is no reason why it can't be done here also.

Don't get me wrong. I love the Fuji X100S and I might even buy one. But what it it had a touch screen on the whole back. When you look through the viewfinder the top right could be for exposure compensation an the left for aperture. Some software could drive the touch control even if you can't see the slider or feel it. You will see te result in the viewfinder.

Put a Tegra 4 chip with wifi, GPS, 4G and a full HD IGZO screen and you are set. It might not have the beautiful form of an X100 but it would be more functional.

Also some other ideas might be touch to focus and slide to shoot. This would get rid of the shake when shooting.

Once you look aware from the viewfinder you would have the basi menu on the screen to make further adjustments.

There are so many ways to improve function and reliability (touch screens do not wear like buttons) and many of these do not require retro looks. That is Homer Simpson mentality.

1 upvote
NancyP
By NancyP (Jan 21, 2013)

Touch screens are elegant but require that you take your eye off the viewfinder or screen image and find the menu button. Buttons are on cameras for a reason - the satisfying haptic (feel) in a predictable location removes the need to take your eyes off the image.

0 upvotes
alexpaynter
By alexpaynter (Feb 2, 2013)

Well you could set it up so that when your eye is in the viewfinder the touch screen acts like a touch pad. You dont need to see anything. Top right for Exposure compensation. Top left for aperture. Slide up to increase and down to decease.

0 upvotes
Zen Rider
By Zen Rider (Jan 19, 2013)

since i was 10 years old I owned many Cameras and SLRs all of them had one special characteristic they were black and Silver i had Olympus OM 1 , Minolta XD5, Canon New F1 and ultimately Nikon FM 2 . even russian breeds were welcome Kiev 10 ... i can Tell you the form factor and the feeling of the camera in your hand is particular with time your fingers will erode the paint or the metal in some places this is an intimate relation with your cam ... I still have my Nikon FM2 and i consider it as an esthetic masterpiece... actually seeing the latest trends in Fuji lines and others like pentax and olympus ( omd e 5 ) i can IMHO say they will set a new standard ...

0 upvotes
offertonhatter
By offertonhatter (Jan 19, 2013)

It makes you wonder why so many brands are bringing out black and silver cameras. Why? because they look so pleasing, retro, a product of a better time etc. Is it a good thing? For me YES! I have so many cameras that are old but look stunning, from the Pentax SV, spotmatic F, Voightlander, Agfa Isolette etc etc. Not only are they great cameras, but objects of beauty. Today, with the MX-1, Fuji X100/X20, Leica, K-5 silver etc, they hark back to that era. and that is not bad thing.
For example, amongst my cameras, I have the Pentax i-10 compact digital. Is it any good? no! It is average at best. But it gives me a bit of pleasure from using it due to its looks, I don't care. However when I need serious image quality I still have the K-5 and Bronica.

0 upvotes
tinternaut
By tinternaut (Jan 19, 2013)

I tend to think of form as nice to have but ultimately, its the end product of what the camera delivers that counts. My E-PL1 is the ugly duckling of Olympus's pen range but produces images every bit as nice as my DSLR in a far smaller package. The same goes for pretty much everything else. My MacBook Air I'm typing this on was designed to look nice, and indeed it does, but if I had to make do with something uglier, it wouldn't be a terrible thing.

0 upvotes
SleepyHammer
By SleepyHammer (Jan 19, 2013)

It helps me to compare to other things in my life. Compared to guitars which are both tools and inspiration, cameras are tools. Although I do like how my sexy metal Nikon film camera feels. And in the end, it's all just objects. Stupid question.

0 upvotes
alexpaynter
By alexpaynter (Jan 20, 2013)

Guitarists do not often appreciate beauty of function. At least for electric guitars. They just want to turn it up to 11. Otherwise innovative manufactures like Klein would still be in business.

0 upvotes
backayonder
By backayonder (Jan 19, 2013)

It's neither form nor function just a load of plaster cameras in a room. But add some big words and sentences and it's called Art.

Comment edited 37 seconds after posting
1 upvote
Felts
By Felts (Jan 19, 2013)

It's also provoking discussion and a reaction from you so you are right, it is Art...

1 upvote
backayonder
By backayonder (Jan 19, 2013)

Okay you have a point.

1 upvote
FriendlyWalkabout
By FriendlyWalkabout (Jan 20, 2013)

Faulty plumbing, the work of Hitler, suicide bombers and the financial elite in their part of the 2008 crises also provoke discussion and reactions, would you call the resulting work art?

0 upvotes
Felts
By Felts (Jan 20, 2013)

Ha, no... But their actions will inspire artists to create Art that will provoke discussion and create reaction..

1 upvote
Paul B Jones
By Paul B Jones (Jan 21, 2013)

Felts is wiping the floor with this one.

0 upvotes
Jeroen Bouman
By Jeroen Bouman (Jan 19, 2013)

It's neither form or function, for me the connection I have with a camera or lens is more important. From the moment I owned it, my Nikon F2 AS has given me a warm, cosy feeling, an extension of my hands and eyes. Never had this connection with my F3 HP or D800e. Same story with a Rolleiflex TLR vs. Hasselblad 500. Does it show in my photos? Yes, it does! Call me crazy if you want to ;-)

1 upvote
dmanthree
By dmanthree (Jan 19, 2013)

Both. I've been shooting for decades, and that hasn't changed. I loved the results I got from my Hasselblad 500 C/M, and marveled at the genius of it's design. Newer cameras (like FF digital SLRs) can produce better results, but they aren't as elegantly designed as the Hassy, or the original Leicas. So it's a balance for me. But, after shooting a film with an ISO of 160 that was known as "High Speed Ektachrome" it's impossible not to be impressed by what digital cameras can do at higher ISOs. That said, I don't collect them. I have no need for dust collectors, even Hasselblads. One exception: my Yashica Mat 124, a camera I've owned since I bought it new around 1970. Just can't bring myself to sell it.

1 upvote
win39
By win39 (Jan 19, 2013)

Hmm. A conceptual artist who is unclear on the concept? The form of the camera is the result of its function just like a hammer. The fora on this site are filled with discussions of function, not how lovely the little machines are, or what is the proper prayer to the little fetish. This exhibit seems to me to be an expression of contempt for photographers. No doubt the art world will clutch Arsham to their breast as a genius as they did Susan Sontag.

0 upvotes
Deleted pending purge
By Deleted pending purge (Jan 19, 2013)

I'm afraid the form isn't any more function-related, since there is no more spanning the roll of film from one side to the other. Today's cameras can be of just about any form the manufacturer decides to make. The only similarity that remains is the lens-to-sensor line, everything else is chips and wires.
There were several models with new aproach to ergonomy (see Sony DSC F-### series) and I'm sorry these were abandoned. Presumably, people are still traditionally (=sentimentally) linked to the old shape.
Even the names and acronyms have no more sense: DSLR? There have never been any DTLR's! But it's too late to introduce ILRC, FLRC or ILC and FLC for non-reflex cameras... Go figure.
And those shirt-pocket sized boxes. Pocket radios of 30 years ago were shaped like that (they're still called "transistors"). No wonder there can't be any talk about artfully crafted camera shapes, it's based upon wrong concept. Thus, the cameras will always take the shape that sells best.

Comment edited 3 times, last edit 12 minutes after posting
1 upvote
vin 13
By vin 13 (Jan 19, 2013)

Function over form every time, though form isn't unimportant to me.

0 upvotes
Najinsky
By Najinsky (Jan 19, 2013)

I see a lens, immaculately encased in finely cast metal. A flawless surface and tactile coatings make it irresistible to the touch, to which it responds with perfectly weighted silky smooth rotation to precision positioning. Tolerances so fine it feels like it was forged as one, not merely some coarse assembly, yet it feels so real, and as it rotates a crystal clear image forms. What deep magic seeks to showcase its mystery here?

Boldly etched markings reveal it to be 50mm 1:1. It costs £4,000 and doesn't even autofocus, nor does it fit my camera, so I pass and thank the disappointed salesman for his time.

I guess I'm just a buy the tools you need kind of guy.

Slow news day today.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
4 upvotes
digilux
By digilux (Jan 19, 2013)

Why do you think Nikon started hiring an Italian designer named Giorgetto Giugiaro for their F-camera's?

I have the entire range of F's both in black ánd silver (F F2 F3 F4 F5) sitting here on a shelf...just looking at them makes me very happy :-)

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
3 upvotes
Matt1645f4
By Matt1645f4 (Jan 19, 2013)

Only the Fuji X series and Leicas will be doing that in 30 years the others will probably be scrapped but a good yet beautiful camera will always be appreciated as a tool or as an object

1 upvote
marike6
By marike6 (Jan 19, 2013)

Few 35mm SLRs are as beautiful and finely crafted as Nikon F2.

My Nikon F2
http://www.dpreview.com/galleries/5543808958/photos/2091100/dscf0851

For MF film bodies, the Hasselblad 500c/m and the Rollieflex 2.8F Planar (both of which produce about the nicest looking images I've ever seen), and for LF cameras the elegant simplicity of the Deardorff 8 x 10 is tough to match. But to me, none of these cameras mean a thing if they simply sitting on a shelf unused.

I disagree that today's digital cameras don't have the same kind of character of form as film cameras. We have a tendency to romanticize older objects and of course in today's camera market, at the lower end plastics have replaced metal. At the higer end, the Leica M or Nikon D4 can compete in most every way aesthetically with the M3 or F5.

1 upvote
sojo76
By sojo76 (Jan 20, 2013)

Yes, but where progress?

0 upvotes
Felts
By Felts (Jan 19, 2013)

The are many polar arguments here and as is often the case, the truth is somewhere in between.

My view is that a tool can also be beautiful, not only to look at but to touch... The well dampened focus barrel of a metal Leica lens is an example.

We are creating art by taking photographs, so the individual needs a firm grasp of aesthetics and beauty to compose a great shot. To appreciate the form of the camera, to me, is just an extension of this.

So yes I have an X100, but no I'm not some gear obsessed poseur (well not all the time!) despite owning a camera that can also pass itself off as a work of art.

1 upvote
PowerG9atBlackForest
By PowerG9atBlackForest (Jan 19, 2013)

There are good cameras and bad ones, hence good tools and bad ones - in my view and for my purpose.

There are beautiful cameras and ugly ones - in my view. I even consider some of the beautiful cameras as objets d'art.

I appreciate the good and beautiful cameras. When I buy a new camera I select for these criteria, and in the past some of them have become good friends to me.

Hermann

0 upvotes
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