Why I Can’t Let Go of My Obsolete Camera

Last week, I came across a picture of a crocheted camera case and it reminded me of the quilted case I made for my old Pentax SLR over a decade ago. The case I had was falling apart despite the duct tape and I couldn’t buy a new one because the camera was so old, so I made my own.

The case I made for my Pentax K1000 complete with matching strap.
The case I made for my Pentax K1000 complete with matching strap.

Looking at my old Pentax makes me feel sad. I stopped using film years ago, so this camera, which I once adored and dressed so lovingly, has been sitting unused in the closet for nearly a decade. I know I should get rid of it. It’s broken. I’m used to the convenience and instant results of digital photography. I’ll never go back to film again.

So why don’t I want to let it go?

My Pentax K1000 has shared my life and recorded important moments since my high school graduation. It’s like a member of the family. It’s moved all over the country with me, traveled in Great Britain and Europe. In the past, I wouldn’t have dreamed of going on vacation without it, and it was present at every holiday.

Back of camera with case closed.
Back of camera with case closed.
Back of camera with the case flap removed. (The riboons hold the bottom part of the cover on.)
Back of camera with the case flap removed. (The ribbons hold the bottom part of the cover on.)

But there’s more to it than that. Taking pictures with film is an art. You have to pay attention and pick your moments. You can’t shoot at random or take hundreds of photos. It costs too much in film and developing. Only things that are worthy are photographed.

Many creatives recommend carrying a camera to help you to see differently. But digital cameras don’t force me to see the way my film camera did. I take digital shots willy-nilly, knowing I can delete or crop anything that comes out badly, and I often miss the shots I should have taken. I am more likely to experiment with digital photography than I was with film, but the pressure to get it right from the start is gone and my digital photos suffer as a result.

My Pentax was my photographic eye, the one that framed my life thoughtfully and captured important moments or vivid scenes so I would have a better chance of remembering them later. It’s the eye that saw my life and my world as art.

Beat-up and obsolete, but I still love it.
Beat-up and obsolete, but I still love it.

I hate saying goodbye — to people, to places, to eras — but my reluctance here isn’t just sentimental. I don’t want to let go of the vision, of how I saw my life through my SLR.

I’ll have to wait a little longer before I try to find it a new home.

2 thoughts on “Why I Can’t Let Go of My Obsolete Camera”

  1. Your case is beautiful. (I’m not remotely surprised – it sounded beautiful from your description.) But I’m sorry it’s been retired from active service.

    Interesting to read your thoughts on the differences between film photography and digital. Unless you had a dark-room at home, it was sometimes difficult to learn as a film photographer: I know that it would usually be months between me taking a photo and getting my developed prints back from the chemist, so I’d usually completely forgotten what I was trying to achieve by then.

    Would you consider making another case for your current camera?

    1. Thanks. I’d forgotten how much I loved it (along with the camera) and wouldn’t have gotten it out if I hadn’t seen your post.

      The delay between taking pictures and seeing the results was a long one with film. My father used to develp pictures way back when, but I never have, so I had to rely on the developer to do a decent job. Along with stacks of photos, I also have stacks of negatives.

      But I’m not sure I’m any better about learning about exposure, etc., with digital than I was with film. There’s no time lag, but I refuse to read the manual to learn how to get my camera to really perform. I get by with auto settings, turning the flash on and off manually, and using my “flower” button (which allows for better close-ups). If I want it to feel like art again, I suppose I should learn how to make it go. 🙂

      My new camera is just a little digital point-and-shoot (although it does zoom and has a thousand features I do not know how to use). But you’re right; it could use a new case. We had one I liked but it got lost and the replacement isn’t as good. If I made one for it, I could be sure to include the storage I need (batteries). Thanks for the suggestion!

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