A black day for traditional photography
By James Grahame
It's a black day today. No, the stock market didn't crash, nor did oil reach $100 a barrel. Much worse than either of those, I discovered during a browse on Ebay that a beloved icon has been utterly devalued by the digital age. I have had a long relationship with the Canon EF. Not the modern EF-mount, USM EOS, but the old FD-mount precursor to the A-series Canons. A lovely, heavy, brass-bodied behemoth, styled after the original F1, and essentially an automatic, lesser sibling of its professional antecedent.
I bought my first one just as they were disappearing from the shelves in 1978, and have loved it ever since. The very sound of its shutter, the forgiveable use of electronics in a mechanical camera, the many small but thoughtful features that make it a delight to use... aaah... I lost that first one, and decided to move forwards into the LED age, with a more modern Nikon, but 'twas not the same.
I don't like looking at LEDs in my viewfinder; give me a moving needle any day - especially if I can see what both aperture and shutter speed are set to. So, I went looking and found a used EF, and was back in heaven. Then I bought another, just in case the first one caught a bad cold and couldn't come out to play any more. Then, more recently, I decided to have them both fully refurbished, by a repairer who, fortuitously, was also an EF-lover. He made sure they were returned in almost as-new condition (although the brassing remained as evidence of lives well-spent). It was more than I could have dreamed, as I was expecting him to sacrifice one to make the other work.
I should have seen the writing on the wall in that first post that I read on Retro Thing, about Canon abandoning new film camera development, and introduction of the digital Leica M8. But it's true, love is blind. Once rare and sought-after, they are now ten-a-penny. The question remains, do I buy up a few of the now-unwanted EFs at bargain prices, just to make sure they enjoy a retirement with someone who loves them - no, REALLY loves them? Or do I just accept the fact of the matter, and allow my first true love to become merely a personal and treasured memory - now no longer special, just another old camera? Hmm, that 5D is quite a saucy little minx; it's got a full-frame chip, multi-mode wossname, and a...