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The owner of the world’s largest camera collection never spent more than $15 on one

Camera enthusiasts would have to buy one camera a day for 12 years to catch up with the Guinness Book of World Records holder Dilish Parekh — and by then he would have moved further ahead, he says with a smile. Dilish was recently featured in The Light Collector, a short film by Dheerankur Upasak released yesterday, detailing the range and history inside his impressive collection of about 4,500 cameras.

Parekh, a photojournalist based in Mumbai, India, started collecting cameras in 1970 when his grandfather gave him some as gifts. At the time, there was no internet to help him determine the value of each camera, he said, so he never spent more than the equivalent of $15 on one.

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Now? His collection includes high value gems like the 1934 Leica 250, valued at around $80,000 — and that’s just one of thousands. He owns every Canon rangefinder and even odd cameras like a small Petal spy camera that was manufactured in occupied Japan. His camera collection spans from 1860 to 1960 and includes everything from the iconic to the unusual, including watch cameras and a WWII camera that was triggered by a rope.

In 2003, Parekh earned a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records for owning 2,634 cameras. He broke his own record in 2007 with 4,425 and now owns about 4,500 cameras. He often purchased the cameras while traveling, and sometimes even picked up several at once. He once bought 15 cameras for $75 from a studio that was shutting down in Kashmir, Parekh told Upasak in the interview.

“When men came back from the moon with photographs, then the whole world saw the moon closely — that’s the power of photography,” Parekh said. “Whenever I buy a camera, I feel empowered.”

Parekh said that he’s received several offers for his collection, but refuses to part with his cameras.