Photographica 2015: Mother and father of all camera fairs draws the crowds
This year, learning from past experience, I used my membership of the Photographic Collectors' Club of Great Britain to gain early entrance to today's Photographica camera fair in the Royal Horticultural Halls, Victoria. In fact, I was in the hall before most of the exhibitors. It is in the two hours from 8 am to the public opening at ten that most of the best bargains are snapped up, many by other traders. Last year I had a great time among the thousands of cameras and accessories and today was even better.
Visitors are very keen to chat and the whole atmosphere of the show is super friendly, if a little haphazard. It's like an enormous village jumble sale but a real magnet for collectors. Some come for the old, massive wooden pre-1914 equipment while others are fixed on the classic makes of film camera which preceded the current digital age. Leica is pre-eminent as a collectible while very few digital cameras are on show.
After my adventures earlier in the weekend, when I snapped up a 1963 single-stoke Leica M3 and a same-year rigid 50mm Summicron lens, I was in the mood for more fun and games. I found a great mint-condition Leica Tri-Elmar, the 28-35-50 version, on the stall of the Stephens' Manchester Leica Centre and bagged that. Then I set eyes on the cutest little camera, an as-new Voigtländer Bessa-L complete with 15mm Super-Wide Heliar and a 15mm optical viewfinder. I'd been wanting the viewfinder for some time but, I thought, let's get the whole ensemble; might as well. The price was exceedingly attractive and within minutes I'd stuffed in a roll of Tri-X and was super-widing it around the exhibition hall. Only one snag: The film has to be processed.
To round off the day I bought a tenpack of Kodak Tri-X, a chrome Leica filter for the 50 Cron and an old Leica hood, again for the Cron. Later, an American visitor came up to admire the lens hood (or shade as he called it). It turned out he had sold it to the trader a few minutes before I bought it. The trader had made a quick profit of £15, but that's what these fairs are all about.
The shots in this article had to depend on digital technology if I were to bring them to you today. They are taken partly with the Leica M-P, to which I attached yesterday's purchase, the 1963 Summicron, and the trusty little 28mm Ricoh GR which is actually the best tool for an event such as this.