This post is aimed mostly at the those of you who have collected a number of cameras and switch between them.

Here’s the question;

If you could only keep one camera/lens combination which would it be?

Let’s put a little detail behind that; say that for some reason (for example a cataclysmic event happens)  you have to pack you bags and leave your home taking only one camera with you with no expectation of ever coming back.  What would you choose and why?  I’m assuming you already have loved ones and important things covered and in reality picking a camera might be the last thing on your mind, but anyway…

I have already narrowed down what I think is my favourite; 35mm rangefinder, 35mm SLR, Medium format, TLR and also my favourite digital but if I had to leave almost all my cameras behind I would be left with a difficult choice.

I say difficult because the one I would take and not leave behind is probably none of the above favourites; it would be the camera I have owned for the longest and is the camera my father had before me.  So my choice would leave me with a good camera but not one I shoot very often.

My father’s Voigtländer Vito B

If then my sentimental choice is a given (“important things covered”) and I can choose one more which would it be?

My choice then would be one of; Mamiya C330, Voitländer Bessa (RF), Voitländer Vitomatic, Miranda Sensorex or Olympus Pen-F digital

It’s a difficult choice;

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Olympus Pen-F Digital
The Pen-F Digital is a great camera in my opinion, being digital it is easy to share images and they are processed at virtually no cost.  I find it intuitive (pretty much instinctive) to use and I rarely miss a shot (other than having an inappropriate lens fitted). It is the most expensive camera I have ever owned and so financially I am fairly committed to it.  And yet, I don’t know if in five or ten years this camera will still work, be still compatible with the then current formats etc, also without power it is going to die quite quickly so in the cataclysmic event scenario it has limitations that most modern cameras will have.
Pen-F Digital
Mamiya C330

The C330 takes great pictures and it is solid as a rock, you can throw anything that this and it will be okay; even if it breaks, it is modular so a replacement lens/shutter assembly just clips straight in.  I haven’t used this camera enough yet though to make it my only tool; that’s perhaps not it’s fault.  Being solid means it weighs a fair amount so it’s possibly not the most convenient option – no light-meter limits it also.  Medium format makes excellent negatives but maybe 35mm might be more accessible?

Voigtländer Vitomatic II
The Vitomatic is my go to 35mm camera, small, lightweight and well built.  The lens is good and I can operate it easily.  It’s not in perfect condition and the small dent in the focus ring that makes it stiff to turn at one spot may be its downfall.  It would be a top candidate though as it ticks most of my boxes including a working light-meter which is useful.
Voigtländer Bessa RF

The Bessa is a great medium format rangefinder.  Of all my film cameras it is probably in the best condition, having had it fully serviced when I bought it.  It’s easy to use and makes beautiful negatives.  It folds up nicely so portability is good and in that state it is well protected. Again, there’s no light-meter on this one so I’d have to rely on other exposure calculators.

Miranda Sensorex

Then the new kid on the block is the Sensorex.  I’ve only had this a few weeks and it has leaped to the top of my (albeit rather short) list of best SLRs.  I like this camera a lot even though I have only one roll all the way through it so far.  Its a simple, very well thought out camera and I quickly learned how to use it.  Maybe this is a young love and over time familiarity will turn to hate but I am optimistic at this time.   Even so, it is new to me and value-wise these are very inexpensive so would I save this over the other more deserving candidates?

So which would it be?

It’s a close run thing; digital might be the obvious choice being as it’s the most flexible these days but then again the medium format Bessa would last forever.  The Vitomatic similarly would last and it has the light-meter but then it’s very similar to my Dad’s Vito B and I could just learn Adams’ zone system.

I think that if it came down to it it would be between the Pen-F and the Bessa and if it was years in the wilderness then the Bessa would win out.  It’s (fairly) compact, needs no power, takes great shots and will last a lifetime (it already has).

Would you have made the same choice?  What would you save from your collection if the sky fell in?

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