Falling in love with vintage gadgets

The last few months have been rather strange. I am no longer intrigued by the latest smartphones, game consoles, wear-techs or even the upcoming new AR drone and the Instagram Socialmatic camera. None of these new gadgets has aroused me.

Surprisingly, I found myself falling in love with vintage gadgets. It all started when someone in office left a vinyl player on my desk. I was intrigued by the mechanism and the way it was built. And over the holidays, my parents showed me a stalk of old family photographs. I love the colours and textures of old photographs. The imperfections of these images show a lot of character. Unlike today’s digital photographs, these film-produced vintage photographs reveal the passage of time.

I found out that there are more and more people like me who appreciate the goodness of these vintage stuffs. One of my art directors inspired me to go gadget-hunting online. I started browsing the internet for vintage gadgets and read more about them. Many of them are still very well-preserved and kept in good working condition. After 5 long nights of bargain-hunting on eBay, I bought 7 vintage cameras (3 classic 1940s Canons 35mm rangefinder cameras and 4 iconic 1970s Polaroid SX70)! It was a good (and risky) bargain to shop on eBay as some of these refurbished vintage cameras are selling at 4X more the price in Hong Kong. The biggest risk is the working condition of these old gears. Out of the 7 cameras I bought, 2 had to be sent out for repair locally. Nevertheless, it is still worthwhile.

It is an expensive new love. While the cameras are cheap, the films and its processing fees aren’t. I have to be extra attentive before I press the button – especially on the Polaroid. Each Polaroid Film cost HKD25! It took me almost 20 trials before I got to that ideal shot! My first 10 Polaroid Films came out super over-exposed. It was an expensive lesson. Thankfully, the friendly staffs at Mint Hong Kong (a shop that refurbish and sell vintage Polaroid in mint condition) gave me lots of tips to guide me. Check them out here: http://www.mint-camera.com/en/

While trying out on these vintage cameras, I came to realise how difficult it was to handle these slow manual machines. Without any digital sensors or auto-focus features, it is very difficult to compose and capture that “magic moment”. Legendary photographers from those eras are truly respectable! It is not easy at all to achieve a good shot. It certainly require lots of skills and practices.

Despite the pain and the very expensive trials, I love the final outcome of all my shots. I love the imperfect colours and textures in my photographs. The images are truly rich and authentic. And best of all, it starts to age beautifully with time.

Polaroid is no longer producing films or those old cameras since 2008. For those who are interested to get an authentic 40-year-old Polaroid SX70 or new films, you can still find them here:

1) MINT HONG KONG –  http://www.mint-camera.com/en/polaroid-sx70/
2) THE IMPOSSIBLE PROJECT – https://shop.the-impossible-project.com/shop/
3) eBAY – http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_sacat=0&_from=R40&_nkw=polaroid%20sx%2070&_fscr=1

While buying on eBay is certainly 1-2X cheaper than some local photoshops, but you have to be extra careful. Always make sure you check the camera’s description is “TESTED” and in “WORKING CONDITION” with the sellers. I ordered 4 pcs but 1 of them is not working at all.

Check out the 35mm sample-photos below. These were shot on a 66-year old 1948-Canon Rangefinder camera.

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