James's Camera Collection: Coffee Break

Coffee Break with the Webmaster

My favorite magazine, the late, lamented Modern Photography, used to run a column called "Coffee Break with the Editors" where they would talk about whatever was going on regarding the magazine itself. I thought I'd do something similar here. The newest items will always be on top.

Top Cameras

Between 1966 and 1988, Modern Photography magazine published a list of their top cameras every December and they were "for" the following year. These were generally one-page synopses of their camera reviews, which remain wery useful and informative. I have scanned as many as I have, which is almost all of them, and lumped them into a single huge PDF (link available on the front page). Each camera that I have also has a link to a single page, so you don't have to download the whole thing just to see one camera's review. (March 2022)

Want List

The triumphant return of the list of cameras that I most want—sort of. I say sort-of because I can always come up with more that I want, or at least that I want today. But the ones on this list are either hot on my radar or are perennial favorites. Whether or not I actually get any of them is another thing entirely. (February 2022)

Minolta's Creative Expansion Cards

When I acquired my Minolta Maxxum 5000i, I found out that Minolta offered a series of plug-in accessory cards for this and several other Maxxum cameras. I have compiled a table listing all of the cards of which I am aware, and which cameras I believe are compatible. Please feel free to advise me if you find errors. (January 2022)

Some Not Really New Cameras

If it looks like I went on a buying spree, I did not. The Rolleiflex SL35 ME, Minolta Maxxum 5000i, and QTsi are truly new; but the Celestron digi-binoculars and the Hanimex 110 have been knocking around for years, I just kept forgetting to add them to the site. (January 2022)

Rolleiflex SL35M and E Split

I had two cameras that I thought were so similar, the Rolleiflex SL35M and SL35E, that I just put them on the same page. I've since realized that the SL35E is a very different camera and warrants its own page. (January 2022)

Two Almost-Second Copies

A recent round of thrift shops yieled two camera bodies, neither of which I had, but only for collector's reasons. The first was a Canon EOS A2, the non-eye-control variant of the EOS A2e that I already had. The other is a Minolta Maxxum 7000, which again I already had, but this one has the original logo with the linked Xs, for which they lost a trademark infringement suit from Exxon. I've never seen a Maxxum with the linked-x logo, so I snapped it up. Didn't hurt that each camera was right around $20, a price I find easy to appealing. (July 2021)

The Last New Camera of 2019?

I'm putting in a question mark because there's still six weeks left, including Xmas, and I've got my eye on one but I've been successfully talking myself out of it so far. But as of mid-November, I've only bought four cameras, all Canons: an EOS 888, a TX, a B&H Auto 35 (which is really a Canon EXee) and an FP. What's the one I have my eye on? An original black-prism Canonflex. Unfortunately, the only ones I've ever seen are always pricey. (Nov 2019)

The Last New Camera of 2018

Only four new cameras this year, the least number I've purchased since I started keeping track. This one's a Beseler Topcon Auto 100. If I had a Beseler Topcon I was hoping for a Super D, but even 60 years later, the only ones that fit my budget are beyond economical repair. Maybe next year. (Dec 2018)

No More Wish List

I was down to three cameras on my wish list, and I got two of them (a Canon New F-1 and a Nikon F). There are plenty of other cameras I'd like to for this or that (usually dumb) reason, but really, I figure my wish list is complete. The last camera on the list was a Kodak Stereo (Holmes format, from the early 20th century, not the Realist format camera from the 1950s; I have two of those). But if I'm going to have Stereo camera on the list, I should have a Widelux, and a Kodak Masterview, a Kodak Medallist or a Chevron; cameras I think are neat but not the ones I made a serious effort to track and acquire. Does that make sense? Probably not. (Feb 2018)


When I started this, I made certain organizational decisions that made sense at the time but now, with far more cameras than ever thought I'd have, has become a hinderance instead of an advantage. So I'm doing some reorganization in the background that should make things easier for me. It shouldn't make any difference on the viewer's side, except that there may be broken links that I have not found. If you find broken links, I would appreciate it if you would let me know. My link checker only catches certain errors. You can contact me by clicking my name link at the bottom of this (and almost every) page. (March 2017)

New Cameras

It's been awhile but I picked up a number of cameras to add. Some are thrift shop finds, others are gifts from relatives who bought newer equipment. The nice thing is that I've got a decent mix, from the storied Minolta Maxxum 7000 to the little Pentax Auto 110 and variety in-between, including an Argus stereo camera. Everything should be up by year-end. (Nov 2015)


I've decided to upgrade the movie camera collection from a single page to individual pages—much like I did light meters, except that I'm not going to give it its own site. This will take some time, but I hope to have it basically done by the end of the month.

I'm still not collecting movie cameras, but I've always hated how the page looked and I thought I'd try to improve it a bit. Plus I actually get emails from people once in a while who actually want information, not just asking who might want to buy their rig. (Jan 2014)


I've been letting this coast for a long time, but I recently pulled a couple of boxes of cameras out of storage, many of which I'd never photographed, so I've been freshening the photos and catching up with cameras I hadn't added.

The photos are still mediocre at best. I'm not a professional photographer and my experience has always been existing-light candids. Lately I've been setting up the cameras in a well-lit room and using flash for fill, and I'm getting decent results. But one of my goals this year is to get a real light tent and a couple of floods (the prices are reasonable now) and I'll try to do these again properly. (Jan 2014)


The major redesign is pretty much done. Now I'm trying to clean up the code, fix inaccuries, update links, and generally add dribs and drabs of content where it's desperately needed. I'm also trying to make use of my old magazines by citing tests, articles, etc. I'm also trying to get actual photos of my cameras and get rid of the N/A graphics or the placeholders that I've been using for many. Particularly the GIF files which went bad during a batch-conversion (the drop-shadows all look pebbly). That takes time and my new photos aren't great, but I do what I can. (Oct 2009)

The September Deluge

I didn't really go on a buying spree; I simply got a box of cameras out of storage and began through it and adding them to the site. Some were cameras I knew I owned already (my Mercury II), some were cameras I knew I owned but couldn't remember exactly which model (Ansco Readyflash); a couple were complete surprises (Kodak Junior Series II). (Sept 2009)

One New Category, and One Lump

I added a new category, "instant," to deal with the various Polaroids which I've acquired. I'm very tempted to simply call it the Polaroid category, but that means I'd end up getting an old Kodak Colorburst, which I want about as much as I want a skin rash (I actually had one, a Colorburst, not a rash, for a weekend. It ended up donated to the local thrift shop. Actually I've had both, and at least the Colorburst didnt require medication to get rid of it).

The Polaroid category only has two cameras at the moment, but I know I have at least one more, and probably several.

I also acquired two disc cameras in the same week: the Kodak 4000 was a gift from my aunt, the 8000 showed up at a thift shop a few days later and I bought it because it was $2, and I like buying cameras which originally listed for $150 for $2. Plus it was an interesting contrast to the 4000. But since I have absolutely zero interest in acquiring any more disc cameras, I've lumped them in with the Cartridge category, which seems to fit. (Sept 2009)

Site Redesign

The design didn't look bad when I first made it, but as the site's grown larger and the pictures are getting bigger and it's had to accommodate more and more stuff, it's started to look really ratty; particularly in contrast to the light meter site, which is a bit cleaner and better laid out. I still haven't figured out exactly how to do it, but I'm hoping to roll out some asthetic changes to the site and make it easier on the eye, by the end of the year. (Sept 2009)

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