Last week I did something I swore I would never do – I shipped off the 5×7 Seneca Competitor, the very camera that started me on my large format journey, the first camera I did a full restoration to, to a new owner. And it was surprisingly easy.
You see, I bought the camera six years ago next month. It was a basket case, and I learned a lot restoring it. I was a stay-at-home dad at the time, and used the camera constantly. I built a 4×5 reducing back for it. I had new bellows made. And I burned film. Lots of film. I grew very attached to the camera, and became very sentimental about it.
But I started working about 18 months ago. I bought into 10×12. I rebuilt the Asanuma 4×5 and started shooting it extensively. In about 2 years, I shot one sheet of 5×7. All my lenses have been been remounted on 4×5 lensboards, making shooting the 5×7 even less convenient. And I just kind of lost my feel for the format. I still like it, but the expense (5×7 film has gone up in price incredibly in the last few years) and effort required to shoot it didn’t seem justified anymore.
A few weeks ago, someone on largeformatphotography.info posted that they would cut down 20×30″ Portra 160VC to whatever format you wanted. I started thinking how neat shooting 10×12″ color would be. The 5×7 had to go. I mentioned this to the seller, who (turns out) was looking for a 5×7 camera. A deal was made; the camera arrived at it’s new home in Alaska yesterday. The buyer is happy, and I have to admit, I feel a large amount of satisfaction knowing that an old friend is going to be used again by someone who appreciates the thing.
It’s been a good run. Goodbye, Seneca.