The Death Of Prince And What It Taught Me About G.A.S.

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Prince’s Yellow Cloud Guitar (and Tito Puente’s Timbales) on display at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. Shot in 2007 with a 5D Classic and 28-75mm Tamron lens.

Breaking News: Just as I had published this, I heard of the sudden passing of yet another music icon Chris Cornell. My heartfelt condolences to his family and loved ones. You will be missed Chris!

Update II: Chris Cornell’s death has been reported to be suicide. Damn, such a waste of talent. Whatever was troubling him, I hope he is at peace now. RIP.

Here’s a little Throwback Thursday to ponder on…

Just recently music fans paused to remember the first anniversary of the death of music icon Prince who died on April 21, 2016 of an apparently accidental overdose.

Music is my other lesser known passion and as a person whose childhood and adolescence were rooted in the 80’s, Prince was a huge musical presence in my world.

Just like folks who grew up hearing of Sinatra, or the folks who grew up on the Beatles or  Elvis, I grew up hearing the name of Prince, Michael Jackson, Madonna and Bruce Springsteen, just to name a few.

PAISLEY PARK

So what does Prince have to do with cameras or G.A.S. (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) ? Not sure if Prince was into cameras as there are precious few photos of him actually holding a camera. The only ones I saw were of Prince holding a Nikon. As you know, Prince was almost always in front of the camera being one of the most famous people on the planet.

I actually thought about this article over a year ago, at the time of his passing. What sparked it was seeing reports on television, after his death, which showed the inside of his huge Paisley Park compound. Within these walls were a very large and incredible music studio. This studio must have been filled with everything imaginable for perfect recordings. There were stages where he would put on shows for friends or fans he invited in. Film production studios. Just to name a few things known to be in this once (and still) mysterious building.

Also in his posession were an awesome collection of unique guitars, wardrobes, and I’m sure lots more.

So once again, what does this have to do with me or cameras? Well, it really got me thinking. Just like many of you, I have ravenously bought, sold, and collected some really awesome cameras and lenses through the years.

When money was good, I went through it like there was no tomorrow, most of it spent of whatever photographic gear I was chasing at the time. I did this until I went flat broke and had to sell them off. Then when times were good again, pattern repeat. When times got bad again, pattern repeat again.

"Camera Legend's Lair" Just a sampling. It is rumored that there are many more interesting items in the vault :-)

“The Camera Legend Lair” Just a sampling of the cameras and lenses that have come through the lair! Rumor has it that there is a secret vault with even more goodies 🙂

Sure there are lots of famous (and not so famous) people with expensive houses and lots of expensive toys and possessions. But what struck me about Paisley Park and why I’m using it as an example is because Paisley Park was built for, and around a singular individual and that was individual was Prince. Once he was gone, it’s hard to imagine the feeling of emptiness that must’ve been felt in that building. The spirit of that building died with him.

WHAT THE DEATH OF PRINCE TAUGHT ME

When I heard the news that Prince had died, it seemed surreal. How could this seemingly healthy, larger than life figure, only 57, be gone in a flash? Sure, we now know the official cause of death was apparently from a self inflicted, accidental overdose of a powerful prescription drug. That does not matter now. I see life as unpredictable. Anything can happen at any time. Accidents, crime, a deadly disease, natural disasters. Anything can take us out in the blink of an eye.

When Prince died he left all those posessions behind and without a will, he left a bit of a mess for his family and lawyers to figure out.

Prince’s death reminded me that one day there will indeed be no tomorrow. I had been thinking about my own mortality a lot since my Dad’s passing in 2011 and now even more so as I continue to grow older by the day. Prince’s passing just once again proves that old adage…”You can’t take it with you when you’re gone.” Except for his musical brilliance. He took that with him and it will be a long time before we see another one who has that combination of musical genius, charisma, and showmanship again.

Sure, he may have (in my opinion) taken the look from Little Richard, the funk from James Brown, and even some showmanship from Elvis, but he put it together in one package and backed it up with musical ability. While Michael Jackson may have been the “bigger” of the two stars, Prince actually wrote, played, and produced most of his music himself while Michael mostly had songs chosen for him and top musicians playing for him, not to mention Quincy Jones producing for him.

As for G.A.S. I’m in no way saying that Prince had G.A.S. and I do feel he had the power, the means, and the right to do whatever he wanted with his money. But we can look at this in two ways…

One. You could say he lived his life to the fullest. I’ve heard it said somewhere that it’s not how many years one lived, but how he/she lived those years. If so, you can certainly say Prince lived a full life and did everything and more than most people ever will in his 57 years than most people could, even if they lived to 100 years old.

Or two, we need to think more about the fact that one day we will all die. We should do our best to make our decisions based on this fact, be conservative and save our money for our children and for their future.

For me personally, it’s a little bit of both. One, I feel that life is to live. Since as far as I can tell, we only have one life, we should live it to the fullest. Then again I do have a family, and God forbid, I could drop tomorrow and my family wouldn’t have a clue what to do with the mess I left behind.

Sadly (or maybe not, depending on) Prince did not have any living children to think about, which may have given him additional “freedom” to use his money in whichever way he wanted. But if you do have kids or close family, then you should probably take them into consideration when you ponder on your next photographic splurge. Is that $6000 Leica M or $5000 pro Nikon or Canon really worth it?

Now if you had your heart set on buying some new expensive gear, don’t let me bring you down. I’m a sinner, so I’m not one to preach. Go ahead and buy that Monochrom or Nikon D5 or whatever strikes your fancy! I’m just expressing how I feel about it now. Fellow gear hounds and hoarders, I’d love to hear how you feel about this!

 

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Monday Mystery Camera: The Nicca 5L aka Nicca Type 5/ Tower 46

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The Nicca 5L/Tower 46 with the 5cm f/1.4 Nikkor in ltm mount. A rare combination!

The Nicca 5L is a rangefinder camera made by the Nicca Camera Company of Japan around circa 1957.

Nicca was one of several Japanese companies that brought Leica screwmount clones to the market. The most well known of these clone companies is Canon, but there were also many more companies from Japan and the USSR. Nicca is said to be the predecessor to the Canon company.

The camera pictured above is the Tower 46. It is the same camera as the Nicca 5L/Type 5, but was sold in the USA by Sears Roebuck under their “Tower” brand.

AS A CAMERA

The Nicca 5L like most Leica screwmount cameras has two separate windows, one for framing and one for the rangefinder. The shutter speed range is 1/25 to 1/1000, plus B.

The Nicca’s main claim to fame is the winding lever and the Leica M type back, easier film loading than Leica’s screwmount bodies.

Stephen Gandy has a much more extensive write-up on his Camera Quest website, the online authority on rangefinder cameras. In his article, he says it “outshines Leica’s own renouned IIIg.”

I don’t have any experience with the IIIg, but compared to the IIIf I have, it is indeed better. The film loading, the winding lever, the beautiful, large and clear rangefinder all add up to a more pleasant user camera.

PRICE AND COLLECTIBILITY

The Nicca 5L is rare, but not ultra rare. Well, the Nicca version itself is quite rare. As I read on Camera Quest it’s “never been seen.” The Tower 46 (the one seen here) is the one you will usually encounter. If you ever see the Nicca version, let me know!

The Nicca is one of those cameras I bought but sold before I could use it. As I already had the IIIf, I preferred to keep the Leica, despite the Nicca being a much better user camera, as I stated above. Sold it when I needed to pay the bills. Of course, I regret it! 🙂

I got the Nicca/Tower 46 for about $130 body only, which was a bargain. I don’t see them often, but when I do, I usually see this camera on auction sites, usually paired with the 5cm f/2 Nikkor sell for around $350-500. The 5cm f/1.4 Nikkor in ltm mount is more uncommon and sells for around $300-400 by itself.

Sometimes, people will try to pull for a lot more on that auction site, but as the Leica IIIg (the apex of screwmount rangefinders) go for around $400-700 at legitimate dealers like KEH, I can only say that the Nicca should not sell for more than that.

The Nicca 5L/Tower 46 is an awesome camera to add to your collection and I’m sure, to use. Someday, I will find another and this time, I’ll keep it!

Note: Sorry for the placement of the “cameralegend.com” logo. I now put it closer to the photos because I had found some of the content of my pages used without authorization. I usually hate copyright logos, but it only takes one bad apple to ruin it for everyone and it only takes seeing your work copied to make you think twice about it.