Which weird, niche camera should I buy? (Alternate title: First world problems)

So, my birthday is in 10 days, and even though I’m turning 41 and not 14, my parents still give me some money to buy myself a present. I’ve bought a lot of fountain pens in 2015 and not a single camera, so I think it’s time to remedy that before the year ends.

My first plan was to get another Soviet camera. I love the photos that my Smena 8M takes, but it has a lousy viewfinder. It’s tiny and doesn’t correspond to what the lens is actually capturing at all, which means you have to guesstimate and that occasionally results in the tops of subjects being chopped off. Not that I’m going to stop using it or anything, but I thought it might be fun to have a similar-but-different Soviet backup.


This is a Belomo Vilia refurbished by My Deer Dear, an Etsy shop in Prague that sells cameras from the behind the old Iron Curtain–not just Soviet, but also Romanian, Czech, and East German. Her refurbishings are really cute, and I also like the medium format Corinas. They are shockingly inexpensive too, even with international shipping.

However, I’ve lately been obsessing over pinhole photography, something I’ve never tried. I know you can make your own camera out of an Altoids tin or whatever, but I’m not really a DIY type when it comes to cameras and I would prefer to pay for something crafted and durable. I’ve narrowed it down between


This one from Vermeer cameras, and either


This medium format pinhole, or


this 35mm, both from LeRouge Cameras.

While medium format is (IMO) aesthetically more pleasing with pinhole photography, 35mm would give me the almost instant gratification of being able to have the drug store develop and print my film (color, anyway), as opposed to having to send it to a lab in Kansas like I do for medium format. And mistakes, which I imagine I will make a lot of while I’m learning, won’t be as costly as they would with medium format. The camera itself is also the least expensive option of the three–the two medium formats are about equal in price. The LeRouge is slightly more expensive, but it also comes with faster shipping and a spirit level. However, I could probably add an exterior spirit level to any of them. They all have tripod mounts.

Decisions, decisions!


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