There’s a running gag among the CP staff writers, and if you’re a camera collector or anyone who has spent some time browsing eBay for vintage cameras you’ll likely get the joke. It centers around camera sellers’ descriptions and the often incongruous ways that some sellers list the condition of the cameras they’re selling.
There’s the infamous “(EXC++++)” which is, as closely as anyone can guess, a condition description denoting that the camera for sale is excellent, plus a lot of pluses. Take this one with a grain of salt. I recently bought an “EXC++++” camera that was completely broken. When I contacted the seller inquiring, “what the heck, man!?” he replied, “Of course it has some problems. That’s why it was listed EXC++++.” This nearly broke my brain.
Then there’s the equally vague use of percentages in grading. What does it mean when a camera is “80-89% of original”? Interesting side note, the company that uses this system rates these cameras also as “Excellent” and “Excellent Plus,” words that are exceedingly subjective and essentially meaningless.
And then there’s the absolute favorite recurring gag here among the writers; the constantly repeated claim from Japanese sellers that a camera or lens contains “Not a tiny dust.”
And it’s these Japanese sellers who most frequently provide the whimsical break from the rigors of everyday life, with their amazing descriptions that seem somehow enhanced by the translation barrier. We really love them.
Take, for example, this recent excerpt sent to me by Dustin Vaughn-Luma. It was found in the condition description of a Leica M6, selling out of Tokyo. I have never seen a more beautiful, profoundly puzzling, and ultimately rewarding condition description for a camera for sale anywhere, any time.
The following words are pure poetry. Read them slowly, and enjoy.
There are many threads and scratches accompanying aged fatigue and use.
It is a durable wind body that felt the mighty warriors.
For those who like vintage style it is recommended.
Although there are many rust floats on the Leica-specific surface of this age.
It has become a good spice combined with the overall feeling of stinking.
My first reaction to this poem; simple joy. But let’s examine it closer.
This perfect construct of verbiage starts innocuously enough. “There are many threads and scratches.” I understand that, mostly, though the word “threads” hints at trouble to come. Then, we reach the end of the sentence “accompanying aged fatigue and use.” This is where we begin to see the true existential examination that was no doubt the entire aim of the author.
Next, we hear of the body and its durability. It has a “wind body” which at some point “felt the mighty warriors.” Who are these mighty warriors? From where did they originate? Were they victorious, or were they vanquished perhaps by automatic film advance and a pair of AA batteries? These questions remain enigmatically unaddressed.
The next line of the stanza, “For those who like vintage style it is recommended.” This is straightforward; a simple phrase that makes sense. It’s not until we read the next line of the poem that we realize that this easily understood line exists only to lull us into a sense of the familiar, so that the author can forcibly yank us back to his or her own vision of reality.
“Rust floats on the Leica-specific surface of this age.”
Was a more profound sequence of words ever strung together? The surface of this age. Rust floats upon it. My god. It’s true.
Finally, we are left with a striking reflection on the nature of life. “It has become a good spice” signifies that the age, though as previously shown does float with rust, is indeed good at its core. This goodness “combined with a feeling of stinking,” shows the author’s nuanced understanding that life, while inherently joyful, also stinks.
[The original inspiration for this post can be seen here]