How Many Film Cameras and Lenses Is Too Many?

If you're like me and just about every photographer I know that shoots film, you have more than one camera. Maybe one or two 35mm options, a 645 or 6x6 camera, and perhaps a 6x7 camera. The question is though, how many is too many? 

In this video, Matt Day opens up about his gear acquisition syndrome flaring up. With little exception, he doesn’t place much sentimental value on cameras and, as such, he would buy, sell, and trade them constantly over the years. It’s because of this that he has been able to produce so many reviews on cameras over the years. At the time of this video, his collection of cameras is close to a dozen in size. He also stated that his stable of cameras could well have changed before the end of the day – much less now. 

For myself, I wish I had such an ability to separate myself from my cameras. I’ve given away a few 35mm cameras but other than that, I’ve never gotten rid of a single camera. Instead, my collection has just continued to grow and grow. Trying to think through which cameras and lenses to sell is a futile exercise which generally results in my conclusion of why I need to keep the gear. 

What about you? Do you tend to hold on to gear or have an ever-changing stable of cameras/lenses? Have you had you collection grow and shrink or just grow?

James Madison's picture

Madison is a mathematician turned statistician based out of Columbus, OH. He fell back in love with film years ago while living in Charleston, SC and hasn't looked back since. In early 2019 he started a website about film photography.

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I'm like you, I can't get rid of my film cameras. But at least I've managed to stop buying more. I think 300+ cameras is probably enough... for now! :)

There's no "too many" for me, as long as they're all still used and they're not just filling space. Each one gives a different experience which is what makes them all so interesting to use! Mamiya 645 1000S for "compact" MF, Mamiya RZ67 for larger MF and better macro, Pentax 67 for MF SLR handling, Yashica-Mat for "compact" 6x6, Mamiya C330 for interchangeable twin-lens fun, Bronica SQ for interchangeable back 6x6, Canon Canonet QL17 G-III because I'm too cheap to buy a Leica rangefinder, and the list goes on. I've got my eye on a Fuji GX680 III Pro to get an entry-level large format-like experience with the tilt/shift bellows, but without the LF expense.

I have more than I can count. Lenses and cameras. I've given tons away for free to people who want to try 35mm photography. Want a Minolta SRT 101? Here you go. Canon AE-1 and a 50mm? Take two.

I just have boxes full of cameras and lenses. I've forgotten about more than most people will ever encounter in their lifetimes.

So, yeah, I have a problem. Or had one. The collection isn't growing, I only buy new cameras/lenses rarely and its usually when its one that I've wanted for a long time - special stuff. Like I recently got a nice Canon 50/0.95. Other than that, I don't buy much other than what I use and need.

Well hell, if you're asking me then you're asking the wrong person. There's no such thing as too many.

Yeah, well...Mamiya c220, and all the lenses and Mamiya Press and Super 23 and most of the lenses...50,75, 100 f3.5 and f2.8, 150 and f5 250...35mm Nikon kit with a bunch of primes and a few zooms.

Thing is the classic mf lenses, all in great condition, are still very serviceable, ( all have been cla'd) and are beoming scarce in top condition. Given the prices now they can be seen as an investment. With interest rates almost negative I know which I would rather have my money in!!

Plus of course they take great pictures!

I am so guilty. At least a dozen