I'm beginning to think it's me

I’m starting to realise that either I have a terrible effect on companies whose products I buy (the Bladerunner effect) or maybe I just seem to have quirky tastes and nobody else likes the same stuff as me…

When I was aged about 11/12 around 1981 I got into photography. Fairly typically I decided I wanted a ‘proper’ camera not a compact so started saving up from my paper round for an SLR. I rather wanted a Contax 139 because they were so beautifully made and used those incredible Carl Zeiss lenses but they were just too expensive for a boy with a paper round so in the end I bought a Pentax ME Super. I spent many happy years with that camera and learned a lot about photography. Contax who it seemed to me were the brand I loved most later folded when their move into full frame digital (ironically a partnership with Pentax and Phillips) took them down.

When the time came to buy a newer body around 1996 I stuck with Pentax because it would work with my existing lenses and purchased an MZ-5n which proved to be a far better camera than the legendary ME Super and gave far better results because of its superb autofocus and metering. When I eventually switched to digital around 2006 I again bought a Pentax Ist DS (stupid name!) mainly to photograph my daughter who was then a toddler. Sometime around 2014 I decided that I really wanted to buy a much higher-end DSLR. Most of my lenses were fairly cheap ones so it made sense to approach the purchase with an open mind and to change system if required. I was pretty fixated on the Nikon D800 at the time and felt this was probably the right time to jump into Nikon - finally! By then Pentax were no longer seen as a major player anyway and were a minnow compared to Canon and Nikon. I walked into the store and tried the D800 but was disappointed to find it felt rather plasticky for such a high grade camera. I tried an equivalent Canon too and while a little better I still wasn’t wowed by the handling. They had a Pentax K5 on the shelf which was their current prosumer high grade DSLR and so I tried that. Instantly I was struck by how cold it felt (all metal) and how rock solid it seemed in the hand. It was like the difference between handling granite worktops and formica! I walked out with the K5, later upgraded to the K3 and eventually went full frame with the Pentax K1 which is so staggeringly good it will always exceed my ability in photography. It doesn’t just take photographs it creates light paintings. I have tried mirrorless (indeed I own a Fuji X-E3) but frankly I regard it as a pretty iffy camera despite its rave reviews. The Fuji lenses are really rather beautiful and retro as is the styling of the cameras but I hate looking through the viewfinder and not seeing reality, I hate the laggy viewfinder, I loathe the artificial colour balance of the Fuji compared to the Pentax and the user interface compared to Pentax is a joke as I find myself burrowing through menu after submenu trying to find a relatively common setting that could be accomplished with a single click on the Pentax. I’ve done published work on it but never liked the results at all really and regard it as a last resort travel camera when I just can’t be bothered with lugging DSLR’s around. The market is moving inexorably though towards mirrorless and I find myself completely out of step with the rest of humanity who are embracing mirrorless at lightning speed. Whether Pentax can survive as the last bastion of SLR viewfinder photography remains to be seen but it’s clear they build great cameras and lenses but they are a niche brand catering to weirdos like me…

Now lets look at my history in bicycles. Leaving aside my earlier kiddie bikes my first really nice bicycle arrived in 1985 my ‘O’ level years and was a Raleigh Royal tourer which cost £200 after some heavy haggling by my Dad! It was handbuilt in England in the ‘Lightweight Unit’ from Reynolds 531 in a special section of Raleigh devoted to producing higher quality handmade bicycles. I still have the certificate with the builder’s name on it, the whole thing reeks of quality, the paint is still stunning and I always loved the lively springiness of that steel frame. I love the fact that a man sat there and hand brazed the Reynolds steel into the Haden Royal Sovereign lugs. By the time I moved to the South of England in 1995 for work I quickly realised that the roads were so busy that I would be wise to get off the road and on to the bridleways so began looking at mountain bikes. By then the bicycle industry in Britain seemed to have all but disappeared and had been taken over by Specialised, Scott etc who bought mass produced Taiwanese frames and bolted them to far eastern components. There were no hand brazed lugs in evidence here sadly! I bought a Scott Boulder (for around £800). The ride was leaden, dull, turgid and I hated the crappy graphics all over it and far preferred the Aston Martin like classic style of my tourer. I rode the hell out of the Scott though and really enjoyed mountain biking on the South Downs. Eventually around 2012 I decided to invest in a ‘British’ mountain bike made from steel and ordered a Cotic Soul with Reynolds 853 steel frame (fabricated in the far East but designed in England) and put as much British componentry on it as I could find so it’s got Hope hydraulic brakes, headset, hubs, Brooks saddle etc - Swiss DT spokes are laced into Mavic french rims and my seatpost bag is in waxed cotton by Carradice of Nelson Lancashire whose saddlebags I have used on my tourer for 35 years. All the springyness and character of that old Raleigh tourer are still there and I love the Cotic to bits. Again though I watch my friends with their mass market and often hugely expensive Specialised carbon framed bikes and wonder why the heck my preferences lead me down such a different path! Am I turning into L.J.K Setwright but without the beard??

Now lets look at cars. When I was a kid my Dad had a succession of Morris Marinas and Minis but a schoolmate’s Dad was a senior engineer with Garrett Air-research in the mid 1970’s and was a turbocharging guru. He ended up working with Saab on their Saab 99 project and as part of the project ran a development mule Saab 99 Turbo fitted with all sorts of extra boost gauges and turbo temp gauges. The guy was a racing driver and I remember going in that car and thinking it was like a rocket compared to the succession of British Leyland’s finest I was used to! I also adored the styling, the shape, those crazy 1970’s orange textured seats and the incredibly deep dished instrument cluster. It felt so different to anything else and made a big impression on me. I loved Saab from that moment on! I ran an Audi 80 as my first car but around 1995 bought a TVR S3 which was just stupendous! I’d fallen in love with the Griffith though and after just a year in the S3 traded up to the 1992 Griffith I still have. In TVR I found a car company that evoked all that was great about motoring - passion, soul, performance and classic British sports car style. Eventually I bought my first Saab - a 2005 9-3 convertible in 2010 and adored it covering about 80000 trouble free miles in 7.5 years. I still feel to this day it was the best all round car I ever owned - great fun with the roof down, space for 4 adults and their luggage, incredible 50mpg fuel economy, decent performance, the best seats I have ever owned in any car, the coolest cup holder in christendom, the hewn from granite construction and the incredible attention to safety. The fact the windscreen surround is reinforced to take a 60mph direct hit with a 2 tonne elk, the dedicated airbags for your thorax, the head-restraints that adjust angle in a crash to prevent whiplash, the seat belt pre-tensioners, the ballistic explosive charges that fire huge steel rollover hoops out behind the rear seats when it senses a rollover Martin-Baker style! That incredible quality all Saab’s have for thinking like nobody else and producing classic designs.

Saab of course are no more, it was inevitable really as I liked them! A couple of weeks ago my wife’s elderly Mitsubishi decided to self destruct its gearbox and so I seized the opportunity to purchase a last gen Saab 9-5 saloon. I’d fallen in love with the design when it launched in 2010 and despite its GM underpinnings it looked and felt very Saab! There aren’t many of them around with low mileage so this does feel like my last chance to run a Saab as a daily driver. It’s a beautiful car that came to market just a little too late to save the quirky car maker: Beautiful Swedish Car, SAAB 9 5 - YouTube

Not content with just one Saab we’re now adding a second, a 2008 9-3 convertible for my daughter to the household. I had started looking at Golf’s because she has a motorway commute to college and I didn’t fancy her being in something tiny like a Micra or Fiesta at those speeds. The Golf is a great car but then I realised that for the same money as a Golf I could buy her a newer, lower mileage Saab 9-3 convertible that was probably better engineered and certainly a lot nicer looking.

So this all begs the question how have naim survived and continued to go from strength to strength given my 35 year passion for the brand? Why do most people not like the same stuff I do? Why can’t I be content with just a nice Audi, an ipod, a Canon camera and a Specialised bicycle like everybody else? Does anybody else here feel like some kind of oddball?



Nope, it’s just you… :joy:


Of course!

Much like you I have enjoyed all manner of less than common alternatives to the current trends. From cameras, to chrome covered bicycles, off the beaten track hifi, early adopter of hybrid car and yes, I did the Saab thing too, from an early Saab 99 to my last one, a black and chrome trimmed 95 stuck out like a beacon amongst the bland BMWs and land rovers in the office car park. I still wish I had gone for the last gen 9-5, good looking car shame about the emissions.

Keep up with the individualism

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Actually I think it is easier now to dodge the mainstream if you choose to do so. For example plenty of handmade bikes etc out there. I had a Zullo made by a bloke with a paunch on 10 espressos a day by Lake Garda. I know this because he sent me a photo of it being made.

I think we do also have to respect that some old car marques were actually a bit rubbish.

Anyway, maybe you/we are overthinking this!



Another big Saab fan here. I still miss my 1991 Saab 900 Turbo S Aero. The seats were so comfortable I could drive for hours emptying an entire tank of fuel without my leg going dead or my back or bum starting to ache. The car I had previously, a Golf VR6, was terrible in this regard with seats that didn’t just give me a dead aching leg after an hour or so, but also were covered in some of the slipperiest leather I ever come across.

The boot was enormous too and I lugged lots of furniture and even an old iron safe that used to belong to my grandfather and which made me fear for the suspension, but it coped just fine.

Scariest moment in the Saab was up in the mountains driving to St. Moritz for Christmas and the little switchback mountain road started to get very snowy and icy. I was just debating whether to stop and put on the snow chains when I must have hit a huge patch of ice and the car pirouetted down a steep stretch of the road ending tail first in a snow bank. It hit hard enough that I feared the worst, but when I managed to pull away (snow chains on!) and check for damage, there was nothing to be seen - those bumpers were seriously good!

I eventually sold the Saab with almost a quarter of a million miles on the clock and it was still a great drive. I’d probably buy it back today if it’s still around in good nick and I could find it.

Jonathan, I’m rather envious of your “new” Saab 9-5. Needless to say, I’ve been very tempted…


I had a Contax 139 and a couple of Zeiss lenses in the early 80s, unfortunately, it got stolen whilst on a camping trip in France and the insurance company paid out a pathetic amount. It was a fabulous camera and was very much missed. After this, I moved to the Canon family because my then brother-in-law had a couple of lenses he was selling cheap and another friend was selling his AE1 at a bargain price, I kept them for years. Eventually, I went digital and after several months of searching ended up with a Canon 50D and now have a 7D2 and 5D4. I still have fond memories of the Contax but am very happy with the Canon system.


I also had a Contax 139 - and later a 137 & a 159… The cost & quality of the Zeiss lenses was… a problem… But I did own at various points, the 50mm f1.7, 28mm f2.8, 35mm f2.8 and 25mm f2.8.

Going digital, later than the average Bear, I considered Nikon & Canon. The Canon 5D looked great but was too new & too much. I went with a pre-loved Nikon D100… Which became a D200, then a D700 (which died on me…) and now a D7000. Its good enough. I could easily spend more, but I am resisting that…


I’m much the same, never went with the mainstream with anything, drove Alfas when everyone was buying Golfs and 205’s and I won’t bore you with any others but I always choose slightly different or quirky things. I’ve got a creative streak so I guess it’s a function of that. The quality has to be there though and I despise junk and before you laugh all of my 6 or 7 Alfas over the years have been reliable (apart from a little rust :joy:)


It’s not just you , my first camera was a Canon and a few lenses

Then within a year, Canon changed their fitting. Through gritted teeth I switched to Minolta , invested heavily - all going well until Sony switch . My first Sony camera (it was early days) had a Minolta fitting and had a defective processor - switched to Canon - big loss in trade in.

Now Canon have gone Mirrorless and stopped making the fitting.

My reaction , is that with my usage , owning three of ye olde worlde Canons I ain’t falling for it this time. Been buying Canon lenses and fittings that are open box 10 /9.5/9 from a firm in Norwich

As for my experiences with Mini…

Lets just say I am now Suzuki man …

As for Naim, they’ve gone down the rabbit hole a few times, quality engineering, good sound , wonderful longevity - but where or where is their CD product for those with good quality DACs etc ?


Big mistake of mine, not going Nikon - , should have switched to Nikon back in the early nineties when I had moved from Canon to Minolta .


If only I had bought the Nikon FE in the first place… :expressionless:

At least, in digits, the Nikon system has ‘worked’ for me. Had some great lenses - and cameras - for not much money. Never the latest ones though… :astonished:

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@JonathanG I’ve got a feeling (sic) that you may like the movie Kodachrome.

ATC - which you have loudspeakers from - are certainly another to be respected brand. May they long live.

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Richard - great to hear you are a Saab fan too - those 99’s and 900’s were for me the definitive and most beautiful Saab’s and are absolute classics for sure! As you say Saab were building cars back then that would run trouble free for 250 000 miles or more when many other manufacturers offerings were fit for scrap after 60 000 miles sadly. I must say your description of driving to St Moritz for Christmas sounds like one of the world’s great drives in such a car, even with the snow bank adventures! :wink:

Hopefully this might revive some memories (excuse the rap soundtrack - it wouldn’t be my choice!)

I haven’t been out to shoot the 9-5 in a decent location yet but did manage to snap some pics on the drive. I love the way they referenced the classic 99/900 with those deeply recessed primary instruments, the delta winged fighter jet shape recessed into the ancillary control panel, the aviation inspired speedometer which looks like a pitch indicator as you accelerate and of course the head up display! That nose and the prominent rear buttresses are also pure Saab - it’s a nice car for sure and feels very quiet and refined to waft about in! The back seats are ludicrously spacious and with the tinted privacy glass at the back I feel like the Swedish Ambassador turning up somewhere lol! It’s insane that you can buy such a vehicle for under £10k and if you aren’t worried about high mileage less than half that…

As for Kodachrome Ardbeg10y you’re so right - I love that movie!! Ed Harris is a wonderful actor and gives a superb performance too.

Nice to hear there are plenty of us here who fall outside the mainstream - I suppose by definition naim owners always would! Maybe Steve Jobs had a point when he said it’s the people who think differently who change the world…

Perhaps we need a thread devoted to those relatively unknown gems that fall outside mainstream tastes! With that in mind here’s my recommendation:

God help the Girl is a brilliant film for all sorts of reasons but most of all it captures that feeling of being 18-22 better than any movie I have ever seen, so from a middle aged perspective it’s a wonderful trip down memory lane to your days in rented rooms, surrounded by friends and deeply loving music but romantically suffering. It’s got everything from the impossibly beautiful muse Emily Browning who perfectly evokes girl next door chic to a great Belle and Sebastian/Stuart Murdoch soundtrack. It’s funny, poignant, evocative, tender, jubilant, deep and aching. If you ever fell hopelessly in love but it just didn’t work out then this is the film for you. I can’t think of a better way to enliven a rainy Tuesday! Don’t be put off by the fact that the movie is billed as a musical, sure it has the odd kitsch musical theatre moment but those interludes support some great storytelling. The bulk of the movie is actually a normal film, not singing all the time.



The Nikon D800 is a nice camera. It’s body is solidly made from magnesium alloy and so light, I suppose can feel deceptively fragile. You wouldn’t have gone wrong with that. Just bear in mind (I know it’s hard with inflation) but it wasn’t a top of the range camera to compare to older models in the camera world.

Going mirrorless does seem to be the way forward. The digital screens inside the viewfinders are pretty rubbish on all models except the most expensive, and this no doubt will always be the way, just as cheap dslr are rubbish. There’s so many advantages of the digital screen, I will be going that way at some point, but I have so many lenses and a D5, that it won’t be soon. I have never found a dslr viewfinder good in all my life, so I look forward to a decent mirrorless.

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Wow, I thought I was the oddball. First proper bike was a Reynolds 531 road/sprint bike gifted to me around 1969 by my Dad who had used it in the 50’s when he was a member of a London club. Fixed wheel and if you wanted a different gear, you changed the set for the next race route condition. Cars, first car was an Austin Champ, followed by various non common models. Now drive a Lotus and have had one in the garage since 1975. HiFi was Sansui from around the same time, Bose speakers and of course since the 80’s Naim. Even now I’m stepping outside of the forum with Auralic and Gold Note. I don’t think its wanting to be an individualist, more a constant need to see what else is out there. I have had a conformist period in terms of decorative styles, succumbed to the wife’s wish for pale green/pink/yew look, and later my own 90’s black and chrome minimalist period. Now decor is rural comfortable, or whatever we have collected over the years. :slight_smile:
Oh, cameras. I started with a Pentax Spotmatic (screw thread) but later was fortunate enough to buy from the company I worked for their surplus Nikon F and a Gandolfi bellows. Sadly both those have gone to release funds at the time. I still have the Pentax.

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That’s funny. When I was at art school everyone else was into those big heavy and very complicated cameras. I loved my old PAL M4 rangefinder and it’s brown leather case along with an old Kodak Polaroid.
The PAL gave everything a sepia hue.

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“The Nikon D800 is a nice camera. It’s body is solidly made from magnesium alloy and so light.”
Who could forget the legendary F5. I still have an FE2, beautifully constructed and a D800 which is an exceptional camera that punches well above its weight.
Nikon F mount was a stroke of genius and sixty years on the lenses can still be used on most cameras albeit with some with limitations.

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I totally agree that Nikon and Pentax who managed to maintain compatibility with their lens mounts and older cameras for so long are to be applauded and it’s a shame to read of people with Canon who have suffered cost impacts due to their lens mount changes. I wish we still had Minolta and Contax too!

One of the most interesting things I have done in photography is to swap systems with a good mate of mine who shoots with Canon. I must admit some of his L series glass is really superb and his EOS5D is a great camera. I think he was very pleasantly surprised when he shot with my Pentax K1 and some nice Pentax lenses, he was impressed with the build quality and handling of the body as well as the Pentax 77mm f1.8 Limited and the 15-30mm f2.8 lenses. I have another pal who shoots with a Sony A7 mk3 and while we all agree the user interface is a nightmare, I think all of us agree it’s got incredible image quality - indeed the best of the lot!

It’s quite funny when you go on the photography forums and see the crazy amount of loathing for the other guy’s brand. Shoot with it and you pretty soon realise that all camera brands have particular strengths and weaknesses and at the higher levels all are usually better than the photographer behind the lens! I was struck when I went to the David Bailey exhibition in London by how many different cameras he uses and has loved over the years including Rolleiflex, Pentax, Nikon, Hasselblad and even an Apple iphone. He seems to be very camera agnostic and yet he’s shot some of the most memorable images of the past 50 years.

Incidentally if anybody wants to watch a great film about David Bailey and Jean Shrimpton I strongly recommend “We’ll take Manhattan” It captures his essence really well I think.



I stick with Canon mainly for two reasons, the ergonomics works for me and I like the colour rendition which means there is less post-processing to get the look I want from my RAW files. I do have a Nikon Coolpix A, that I got when I had a broken collar bone that wouldn’t heal and I couldn’t hold a dSLR. It is a good camera but I do find the ergonomics not as good as my Canons and photos need more post-processing to get what I like. A friend with a Nikon dSLR, finds the opposite, so horses for courses. A bit like Naim sound compared to other brands, they are different and we are the folk who like the Naim sound, others go for Exposure, Linn, etc. All of which are good but not what we want sound-wise.

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