My bag is a map of my photographic uncertainty. In an ideal world it would be different.
I began taking photos a couple of years ago as a remedy for the terror I felt at having to write an academic thesis. I gained real pleasure from the simplicity of photography, a simplicity that derived directly from the fact I used a very simple camera, a Minolta XG-1, with a 50mm lens. You’re not given many options with that set up; there’s not much to think about other than how to respond to the world around you (at the time that was Vancouver, Canada) and I couldn’t respond too much because film is expensive and I was on a budget. I still love the XG series. I’ve broken two, one in a fit of rage, and the other, on a blindingly hot day in the desert by trying to unscrew the film advance screw on the bottom of the camera because I thought it was the entry to the battery space. I now have an XG-9 and have discovered that I love shooting street photography with a wide-angle lens. The 28mm f2.8 Vivitar rarely leaves the body. I’ve only held a Leica once and it was lovely but the XG-9 is also very discreet and this set-up cost me 40GBP so I’m not complaining.
It seems silly to have four 35mm cameras. The reasons are silly too. I like to have the option of colour and black and white and I only have a wide-angle lens for my Minolta so it feels like I have to have at least four cameras to have the range of film type and angles of view I like. I much prefer black and white prints but because I don’t have access to a darkroom or to a good negative scanner sometimes it’s easier to shoot it in colour, get it processed and scanned cheaply, and then convert it to black and white. I still shoot lots of black and white and process the film at home but the negatives tend to sit around, never to be seen as positives. I shot some Velvia 50 (negative) film recently and the colours rendered very strangely. I mostly shoot HP5 but have had good experiences with T-max 400. I’m sad they’ve discontinued Arista Premium 100.
The F4s is a beast but I do find it charming. I got it because I felt I should buy a ‘serious’ camera and chickened out of buying a digital one after feeling how plasticy the consumer Nikon DSLRs felt. I recently did the unthinkable and bought a zoom lens! It was 40$ but I won’t use it much. I have to take a lot of batteries out with me just in case by F4 or flash die. I’d love a smaller grip for by F4 and to pair that with the waist-level viewfinder. That set-up would be pretty special for street photography. I love my little Minolta point and shoot; using it to shoot directly into the sun is super because the effect you get from the plastic lens is lovely. My filters and tripod hardly get used but it feels like I have to carry them around. The Kindle is a new thing. I didn’t think I’d like it but I actually love it. I’m not a snob about e-books anymore which can only be a good thing. The bag is great. It cost me 15$ from the second-hand camera store next to the London Review Bookshop on Bury Place in London. I’m currently living in the Canadian Prairies and am searching for a documentary project in the strip-malls and railway yards of the city fringe.
I’m going to replace my F4 with a D700 as soon as I can find one and buy a medium-format rangefinder. At night I dream of the Bronica 645.
all the best,
Thanks for sharing your bag with us Michael, I love to hear how people came to have their current set up and their thoughts on the gear that they have,
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Keep them coming folks, we need more submissions, so get your bag on Japancamerahunter.com. Send me a hi resolution image of the bag (please make sure it is horizontal) and its contents, with some details about yourself and what you shoot. Oh and don’t forget your contact details (twitter, flickr, tumbler et al). Send the bag shots here.