Once my youngest son graduates from high school this spring, my wife and I plan to move to a smaller home in another town. As such, some downsizing of our household items will need to happen. This included editing my large camera collection down to size. So I've set about selling the less-desirable bodies, lenses and other stuff through Craigslist.
I recently sold a nice couple of lenses to a young local photographer. She specializes in portraits of pets. Very nice person with a good eye for making images. I extolled in excited tones how sharp the Canon 200mm f4 FD telephoto was and how she could detach the Tamron Adapatall 2 interchangeable mount on the 28mm f/2.5. I thought she was after crisp images with old equipment. Nope.
She gently and politely informed me that for her personal shooting she likes to disassemble (permanently) old film lenses and hold them with one hand in front of her lens-less DSLR for what she termed "freelensing". Said the out-of-focus effects were outstanding. I had not heard of that. A quick Google search revealed that, indeed, many new folks are attracted to this style of shooting as they can produce interesting and very pronounced selective focus this way.
A part of me was happy with the idea that old optics were soldiering on with new uses, and a large part of me (maybe larger) was horrified that to do that my precious top-brand stuff was about to be, well, forever mutilated. The optics these folks perform surgery on are absolutely irreplaceable. At least to me. Severing the mount from the body just to take a few mostly blurry photos seemed too drastic a course to achieve a simple effect; a mechanic hack job done out of not knowing any other alternative, or out of a lack of respect for the amazing skills of the lens designers and manufacturers. And hey, why not try Photoshop first, people!
Then I took a deep breath.
Gotta let it go. Vintage camera collecting is a dying hobby as most of us collectors are "aging out" at a corresponding rate. In a few decades the actions of corrosion, gravity, metal fatigue, mold and moisture will have pretty much ravaged all those film cameras and their lenses either now proudly displayed on shelves, still forgotten and stuffed in closets. Why not get those lenses out in the sunshine again, even to make decidedly fuzzy images? Let the kids freelens all they want. Better that an old lens gets used for the what is was made to do than to ride the pine on some dusty shelf.
It's a new year. So, OK, out with the old and in with the new. I'll hold on to a few Nikkors and such out of my own nostalgia and sell the rest to people who are unencumbered with perhaps an outdated loyalty to dead brands and a forgotten medium. It's all good. I guess I now know how the old photographers in my day viewed my generation's experimentation with photo gear. What goes around . . .