by marty mora
I do not collect cameras.
Well…at least not because they are rare or special. To be honest, I have been different type of collector, one who collects in numbers of cameras. In my prime as a number collector, I had in my possession two medium format cameras along with two different Leica M bodies. My camera storage space was literally bursting at the seams; it could hold no more, and yet, I was always on the lookout for something else. Another body, another lens, something else to add to the collection without ever really appreciating what it is that I had.
Do you think that most people at one point or another have been in a similar situation? The constant acquiring of more even though we already have enough of is quite common. Be it cameras, watches, clothes, whatever…all of us have too much of one particular thing that we tend to hoard and for no real good reason, continue to collect.
Which, hey, if that is your thing, great. Nothing wrong with that at all; if the thrill of the chase and the rush of excitement upon holding in your hands what it is that you searched long and hard for is your cup of tea, by all means, drink.
It was not my cup of tea, though god knows how I tried to make it so. Until recently.
A while ago one of the camera shops that I am quite familiar with (read: too familiar with) contacted me with the news that a black paint M4 MOT body was coming in, and they thought of me. Not only was I flattered, but also shocked because that was not the way I was hoping to be thought of. But I was intrigued, so I began looking online more about the M4 MOT model. To sum it up, the M4 MOT and M4 M models were the first Leica bodies to use an electric motor to wind on the film to the next shot. They used a specially designed massive motor that connected on the bottom of the camera and were developed not by Leica, but by another person and then acquired by Leica. All in all, there are less that 1000 combined M4 MOT and M4 M camera bodies produced.
Hmmm…I could go for that I thought. Deep down, I have always wanted a black paint body M, or something else that was not super rare but not super common as well. The back and forth between myself and the camera shop began, but was soon stopped by the price of the camera. This would be well out of my price range. There was no way that I could afford this camera flat out, I would need to empty out my camera storage cabinet completely, and also dig into my secret stash of cash to afford this camera. Questions began to pop up; was this worth it, do I need this, would I use this camera?
Here began some critical thinking…I had too many cameras to shoot with. I also really never had held on to one particular combination of camera, lens or format; I was always bouncing between different things. The drive to try something else new, to acquire something else has always been the major driving force behind why I was using a camera. To be honest, it was a never-ending quest that never really led anywhere, aside to an empty wallet.
Now the soul-searching began. What should I do, where should I go from here? I began taking out all my cameras and looking at my negs…what was I taking the most photos with and why. The medium format cameras, while fun and always on my list of want, were the cameras used the least. I love the format, but the truth is I do not use the format enough to warrant one camera, let alone two. There were always in the case unless I was going to take them out, which was almost never. Parting with them seems like a good idea on two fronts, first I would free up two cameras that other people could use, and second, I could concentrate more on the 35mm film format.
I then turned my attention to the M bodies that I had. There was nothing wrong with them at all, they shot beautifully and were always on my person. This is where the real battle began, what to do? Sort and sweet, I was honest with my desire for the M4 MOT body, and decided that I would trade in those two bodies.
That is what I did. Four cameras out, one camera in, one wallet lighter than ever.
Now my only camera is the M4 MOT. And true to my word, since I am not a collector, I am using it as my daily camera. Already there is some scratches from daily usage, and my flash has scuffed up the paint job on the cold shoe but that is what a camera is for, to take photos. I also do not have to stand in front of the camera case (which is now useless) wondering what camera I should take out. I take out the only camera and lens that I have and take photos with it.
I totally agree that you could call me a collector. Or foolish to do something like that. Perhaps it was the worst choice, or perhaps it was the best choice. I know that I am happy with my decision, and life is now a lot simpler as I only have that M4. One thing is for certain though; I am taking more photographs and not thinking about gear any more. That is what photography should be all about.
Thanks JT for the opportunity to post here, much appreciated!
You can find more about me on Instagram.
Or on my soon to be up website: martymora.com
Note from JT:
Just wanted to thank Marty personally for taking the time to write this for the blog! I’m looking forward to more guest posts in the future 😉 I met Marty while in Kyoto before Corona was a thing and we’ve kept in touch ever since. One of the things I value most about photography is the people I’ve met and the friends I’ve made.
Until we can do it for real again.