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SOAPBOX: A very old camera reveals much about us

Some manufacturers are hesitant to repair cameras when they can just replace them.
Some manufacturers are hesitant to repair cameras when they can just replace them. Max Fleet BUN260714COL6

LAST week an old man walked into a Sunshine Coast camera store, hoping to find someone who would take in an old treasure.

He presented staff with a movie camera that would be about 80 years old, made in France in the 1930s, with a diagram enamelled on its side explaining which shutter speed and aperture the operator should use in various conditions.

The man bought the camera second-hand for his 21st birthday in the 1940s, and had since taken it across the world.

So when it came time to clear out the old things, he couldn't bear to see it end up on a rubbish pile.

It no longer works, the film required no longer exists and it wasn't worth anything much as an antique, but the man gave it away in the hope it would intrigue camera buffs of a younger generation.

In the decades since that camera was made, the world has weathered the Second World War and the Vietnam War, and witnessed the rise of aviation, the birth of the internet and man on the moon.

Manufacturing is now cheaper than ever, and has given rise to what a report to the Sunshine Coast Council described as a "society of convenience".

Today, most cameras are more expensive and much more difficult to repair than to replace, and some brands don't even examine broken cameras before trashing them and whipping up a new, shiny successor.

The council has voted to expand the Nambour dump under pressure of a rising population and our casual relationship with products, with everything from food to technology thrown away into our giant "too hard" basket of waste.

It is past time to reconsider our approach to consuming and discarding.

Topics:  antiques camera cameras opinion rubbish soapbox technology waste


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