Left: Olympus OM-1 | Right: Olympus OMD E-M5
I’ve never talked about my camera collection here before because it was constantly changing. For a long time, it consisted of a great DSLR which I invested in expecting to keep it for years to come, a digital point and shoot, and a bunch of vintage film cameras. I was pretty addicted to acquiring the latter, and one of my favorite past times was scouring the glass cases at thrift stores for treasures.
Last summer, during what I call “The Great Purge,” I did a massive overhaul/cleaning out of my material life. I donated about half my closet to Goodwill and applied the same no-mercy culling to my beloved camera collection. I was tired of owning things that I didn’t use and wanted to minimize and keep only what was essential and practical.
After doing a ton of research, I sold my DSLR and made the switch to a mirrorless micro 4/3 system – the Olympus OMD E-M5. After using this camera for more than 8 months now, I can say with certainty that it was a great decision. When I had a DSLR, I only carried it during special occasions: vacations, special events, birthdays, etc. And because those occasions happen only a handful of times a year, I found that my camera stayed on the shelf unused most of the time. It was large, heavy, and hard to integrate into my everyday life. It’s worth mentioning that my DSLR was on the large side anyway, a Canon 7D, and that there are smaller ones on the market that might be easier to tote.
In comparison, my E-M5 is tiny and weighs just a few ounces. I use a fast prime pancake lens on it (the Panasonic 20mm f1.7) , so the whole combination is featherlight. It has made all the difference, especially when I travel, and I really felt its advantages when we were in Europe a couple months ago (vs. my trip to Asia in 2012 when I distinctly remember feeling burdened by my camera).
Because small and light are priorities for me, I sold most of my vintage camera collection, including a Canont FTb (heavy) and Yashica Electro GSN (bad viewfinder), and replaced them with an Olympus OM-1, the predecessor to the E-M5 I use for digital. It shares the petite physical characteristics of its digital counterpart, and like so many other vintage cameras, is a real beauty. I also have an Olympus mju ii / Stylus Epic (a film point & shoot), and a Canon A2/EOS 5 (passed down to me from dad). I’m totally sentimental, so I like to think that each camera has its own certain je ne sais quoi, especially the film cameras.
After making these changes, I’ve been really happy with my collection. The motivating force behind “The Great Purge” was thinking about my lifestyle realistically, not aspirationally, and letting that guide my choices. I am not a professional photographer, nor do I use my camera for work purposes, so a Canon 7D didn’t really fit into my lifestyle. I’m a photography enthusiast with a major love of travel, so something small made a lot more sense.
Do you shoot film, digital, or both? Do you have any favorites in your own collection?