My First Rangefinder


When you’re a collector of fine things, whatever kind of things they may be, everything you take possession of in relation to your hobby has a certain importance, but some leave a stronger impression than others. I’ll take German cars for example. There’s the first car, that shitty old Volks that could barely do a commute without breaking down. It’s the spark that lights the ever-growing fire, and then next thing you know you’ve got 6 cars in your back yard that will remain in your memory forever, no matter if or when they get crushed up in a tiny little cube. The one that’s twice as old as you are. The one you bought for a fistful of quarters and a handshake off the old man down the street. The one you grossly overpaid. Your first luxury compact sedan, that beat up old BMW.

My latest photography related purchase feels just like that: my first old luxury compact sedan. I’ve had my big deal just a while back, but now thanks to eBay, they’re all in the hands of new owners and all that remains is a good story on how much of an exceptional business person I am. My newest camera is an Olympus 35SPn rangefinder.

Just like any ~30 year old camera (or car) it wasn’t in outstanding shape when I got it. The individual who sold it to me pitched it as being an excellent camera for “casual picturetaking in social events or on a day at the beach” and as it turned out he was talking from firsthand experience, because the focus and aperture rings were laden with sand. Not a problem, I had a steady income from military college and about 1000$’s worth of capital sleeping as 35mm SLR bodies, so I contacted John Hermanson from Camtech Photo Service in New York, visibly the only vintage Olympus repairman in North America at the moment. His repair work and expertise seemed universally acclaimed on many photography-related forums and Flickr, so I figured he was my best bet. One hundred loonies and a couple of weeks later, my camera was back in tip top shape, with a new silver-oxide battery conversion and all. Props to Mr. Hermanson for his excellent work, I strongly recommend his services.

The ergonomics are way different than anything I’ve ever used before. This is light years away from even the now second-oldest camera in my collection, the fatherly pass-me-down that is my Pentax Super Program. There’ll be a learning curve for sure, but learning is fun, right?

I haven’t gotten around to shooting with this new toy yet though… my unemployment, moronic budget management and the loss of my film stash just aren’t allow me to set out with this vintage beauty strapped to my neck. But don’t worry, as soon as I get some film, I’m heading out to the beach.

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