Gear that got away: reader responses

After sharing our own stories of selling gear and later coming to regret it, we heard from our readers with their own tales of woe – and we weren’t quite prepared for the emotional rollercoaster ride it would be reading your comments! From an unlikely reunification, to a camera left behind in combat, to a sturdy lens that wouldn’t quit (until a spider moved in) your stories have all the excitement of a summer blockbuster. Take a look at a selection of our favorites.

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Yashica Electro 35

CMCM: For purely nostalgic reasons, somehow and somewhere I lost track of my very first camera… a rangefinder Yashica Electro 35, bought in the Cu Chi, Vietnam PX in early 1967. This was apparently the first electronically controlled camera (hence the name “Electro), in which you selected the aperture and the camera automatically chose the shutter speed. It had an excellent fixed 45mm f1.7 lens, and my copy had a non-working light meter for most of its life. I used it sporadically until about 1979, when I got a Canon AE-1.

I’ve recently been digitizing old slides, and I’ve been amazed at how lovely the photos from the old Yashica could be. Wish I knew what happened to it! However, for fun I recently found an absolutely mint one that appears to have never been used, and even the light meter still works!

Panasonic LX100

The Jimmy 86: I’ll always somewhat regret selling my LX100. I was very much a fledgling photographer when I got (and arguably still am) but I took some of my favorite photos with it. The aspect ratio selection switch was just a dream and the camera was essentially good at everything.

I’ll likely never sell a camera when I upgrade again.

Olympus Trip 35

Photo by Marc Lacoste via Wikimedia Commons

BoborTwo: My 1st ‘proper’ camera, an Olympus Trip 35 (the David Bailey one, as my mum used to say).

It opened my camera eye, and led to me selling photos … but stupidly, I traded up to an OM10 on it, and it was gone forever. I tried to get it back some 2 years later, but it had been sold on to random customer in the Jessops in which I traded it.

I deeply miss it, I knew its limitations – there were many, but it took a long time for me to find something I loved as much – a Minox 35 GT – I will never let it go.

Nikon D700

philm5d: My Nikon D700. I had taken it to Scotland on Honeymoon however. Looking at the pics I wished I hadn’t got rid of it – lovely images and also a degree of sentimentality. A chap in Europe had bought it. Two years later I found his eBay name on an old email and offered to buy it back. He wrote back to say sorry he’d sold it on but if he came across the buyer’s details he’d tell me. Six months later he wrote to say he’d found owner two’s username details back in UK.

SO I messaged guy no.2. He said sorry he didn’t want to part with it. I put his eBay name in favourite sellers and two years later he’s selling a guitar. I offer to buy the guitar AND the camera and lo and behold he offers to list the camera at a crazy price (to dissuade others) + “offers” and tells me what he’s accept which was £450. So now I have my camera back after its travels. It’s slightly more worn with 45000 clicks but works perfectly. The serial number tallies with my honeymoon pics etc and I am happy. Beat that if you can!

Vintage photography magazines

valosade: Complete editions of Modern Photography and Popular Photography magazine from the 70s and 80s. When I moved I put them in a paper collection. I was insane, especially Modern I like to read every day …

felix from the suburbs: In my case, I had several decades worth of Modern Photography and Popular Photography nicely stored in cardboard boxes in the basement. We went up north one week-end and came back to a burst pipe in the basement right over where those boxes were kept. The magazines were turned to mush. Much heartbreak that day.

Leica M-2R

Leica M2 photographed by E. Wetzig via Wikimedia Commons

Rodger Kingston: It was 1973, and I was newly married and new to photography, still on my first “serious” camera, a Minolta SRT 101 SLR (which I eventually ruined by backing into a swimming pool at a wedding rehearsal, but that’s another story).

A friend offered me a new Leica M2-R with a Dual Range Summicron and Close-Focus Attachment for the ridiculous price – if I remember correctly – of $250, with the proviso that if I didn’t like the camera, I had to offer it back to him at the price he sold it to me for.

A complete newbie, I’d gotten used to the tunnel vision of an SLR, and found the inscribed frame of the Leica rangefinder unsettling to use, so after a short time I sold it back to him.

Now, a lifetime later, my favored cameras have been rangefinder/viewfinder style for many years (including a few Leicas), but none as sweet as that M2-R that I let slip away because I didn’t have the sense to learn how to see with it.

Olympus C-8080

Photo by photophile with Olympus C-8080

photophile: I purchased the huge, brick-like C-8080 it in early 2005 – and loved it straight away. THAT lens was astonishing at resolving detail. The supermacro mode was to die for, the flip-out LCD was really handy for shooting flowers & bugs at ground level and those direct on-body buttons to change metering mode and shooting mode etc – wow! BUT – it was slow to focus and RAW write speed was snail’s pace plus it was a bit noisy above ISO-200. So when the E500 came out, I thought it was time to ‘upgrade.’ As the SLR wasn’t cheap, I sold the C-8080.

The regret was immediate. Yes the new toy was great – but it seemed a bit sterile, too easy to use! Bizarrely, I actually MISSED having to fiddle and fidget with the C-8080, I especially missed the on-body buttons – hated having to trawl through menus on the E500.

Bought a used/abused unit in 2009. And I still have it. Love pressing buttons and turning dials, making it whirr and chirp as it struggles to lock focus. Bit like me!

Rollei 2.8

Photo by Sputniktilt via Wikimedia Commons

mikegc: I took my Rollei 2.8 to Vietnam in 1969. I was a combat photographer with the First Infantry Division. During an assault, the Rollei took a hit as I was running. The bullet passed through the body of the camera that shattered the viewfinder lens and the focusing control. I left it in the jungle and I’m very sorry I did that. It would make a great conversation piece.

Yashica Penta J

Photo by Rick Oleson

ikon44: In my student years in the mid 1960s I sold my UK-made Corfield Periflex 3a for a Yashica Penta J a 35mm film camera with selenium-gold clip on light meter (that was the good decision). The meter clipped on over the shutter speed dial, you chose a shutter speed and the meter gave you the ‘correct’ f stop. It was really easy to use and I found it very reliable.

I sold it in 1970 for an Olympus Pen F and have kicked myself ever since. Many of my friends had (and raved about) the half frame Olympus Pen F. I sold the Yashica for the Pen F and have never recovered from the mistake of thinking I could do better with ‘someone else’s’ idea of the right camera. I now have Nikon D750, and D610 and Fujifilm XT2 and am happy with them all… each for its own purpose.

Panasonic Lumix GF3

Wingsfan: Laugh if you want, but I traded a Lumix GF3 in on an Olympus E-M1 Mark II when they were offering $200 for any camera on trade on the E-M1 Mark II. I don’t regret it, because the Olympus is a much better camera, but I forgot how simple and fun it was to use the GF3. Plus, even though my daughter got to inherit my Lumix G5 out of the deal (she had been using the GF3), she still reminds me how much more she likes to GF3 to this day.

Canon PowerShot G12

davesurrey: A while ago I made a spur of the moment decision to reduce my camera collection and sold, amongst others, a Canon G12.

Then every time I saw the space on the shelves where that little fellow had sat I felt nostalgia over take me.

It was far from the best camera I possessed, even then, and it wasn’t even the one I instinctively grabbed when I went out. But there was something about it that I enjoyed.

So I solved the problem and now have a lovely G12 sitting on my shelves again which does get the occasional use.

Was it logical buying another again? Of course not, but what’s logic got to do with passion.

Canon EF 100mm F2 USM

Photo by Ashley Pomeroy via Wikimedia Commons

aceflibble: …For more technical reasons, my first copy of the Canon EF 100mm f/2 USM. That lens was absurdly sharp and well-corrected and had, by far, the fastest and most confident autofocus on the 1Ds cameras. I stupidly sold it when I got the EF 85mm f/1.2L II and immediately missed it. Tried the 70-200 f/2.8 IS as well but still wasn’t happy, so sold both the 70-200 and 85 and bought another copy of the 100. Sadly, that copy was nowhere near as good as my original. Sold it and got a third copy, a bit better but still not quite there. Somewhere out there is a world-class copy of the 100mm f/2 and I hope whoever has it appreciates what they have.

Nikon FM

Photo by Callum Lewis-Smith via Wikimedia Commons

tcab: Traded my Nikon FM film camera & 105mm lens for a film Pentax point and shoot before an overseas holiday. Walking out of the shop I happened to look around and saw the shop owner fondling the Nikon gear with a huge grin on his face. I thought maybe I had made a mistake, but left it at that and went on my holiday.

Twenty or more years later I look back and think – what was I thinking! I loved that camera – it was my first, too. Sure I have all sorts of better cameras now, but still regret selling that classic Nikon.