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Closet Queens

How many of us have a camera, lens, or combination of both that sees little or no use resulting in it slumbering for months or even years in a bag or drawer, barely seeing the light of day? My own experience of this is symptomatic of GAS – those times when I just wanted to purchase a new bit of gear without any real justification – those moments when I just had to scratch a particularly expensive itch.

My most costly of these is my OM3Ti, purchased around ten years ago brand new. I did use it for several projects and a holiday shoot during its first couple of years, but the frighteningly high price always meant it was treated with absolute respect. Since then it has seen very little use, although I force myself to take it out of its box once a year and run a roll of E-6 through it merely to exercise the moving parts. Because of this it looks as good as it did the day it came off the assembly line.

One of my OM4Ti’s falls into the same category as the 3, having been purchased new shortly after Olympus announced the discontinuation of the OM System. The 4Ti is my favourite analogue camera and I wanted a spare so that I could continue using this model well into the future. The problem (if this is what it can be called) with the 4Ti is that it is very robust, and my ‘everyday’ one, continues to plod on providing accurate exposures. Consequently, my spare slumbers for most of the year boxed in pristine condition. It’s only exercise comes in the form of recording our annual summer holiday when several rolls of film are run through it. Affectionately nicknamed ‘holidaycam’ I still love having a 4Ti stashed away that is as good as new.

Over the years, I have had several beautiful closet queen lenses although most have been sold on to finance other purchases. However, a couple remain simply because they look so good and I cannot bear to part with them. The one that sits at the top of the podium in terms of unused status is a Zuiko 24mm f2.8; Years ago, I had one of these that I used so much it began to fall apart. Instead of getting it fixed, I purchased a brand new one – one with a very late manufacturing date of 2001. Around the same time I also purchased my dream lens, a Zuiko 21mm F2. I simply fell in love with the 21 leaving the 24 to languish in its box, which it has done do to this day. Every now and again, I take it out purely to admire its diminutive size, beautiful optics and superb engineering.

My other queen made a rather unnoticed transformation to this title; it is a Zuiko 100mm f2.8 purchased many years ago and as a replacement for a rather geriatric telephoto zoom. It saw regular use for many years, being my favourite telephoto optic. As time went by, I found I was using a 135mm lens more and more so the 100mm fell out of use. To this day I still favour the 135 focal length. Consequently the 100 has seen almost ten years of disuse, but is in beautiful condition with just minimal wear to the mount and a little yellowing of the f stop numerals.

Another suspected queen in the making is my 180mm f2.8; I purchased this just a few years ago in brand new condition, to address a shortfall I have in longer focal lengths. It saw significant use in its early years with me but I realise whilst writing this that it has not been out of the house for some time now. I suspect the reason for this is that my 135mm fulfils most of my telephoto requirements. Will I part with it? Well I’m not sure yet – it is another piece of beautifully engineered glass that fulfils some inner need in me purely through admiration.

As I have grown older, my GAS outbreaks have subsided, resulting in me purchasing only items I can see a real justification in ownership - particularly in this age of digital disposability. So maybe my closet queens are limited to just those listed above. But then again, I only purchased my Leica X1 a year ago, and while it is my ‘go to’ camera at the moment, it will be interesting to see if it remains so in two years’ time.