To all the Cameras I have loved before..
When clearing out some dusty storage I came across some old film cameras that I’ve not used for years, and thought it would be interesting to try to remember all the cameras I’ve ever owned. So here goes, starting from when I was 12 – I think I got it when my sister was born (as no-one else in the family had a camera).
1973 – 1979:
I think my first camera was a Kodak Instamatic using 110 cartridge film. It used a novel approach to flash photography – rotating disposable flash cubes! It also came with an extender so you could mount the flash cube well away from the lens to minimise red-eye. Each cube contained 4 one-shot bulbs: it was like this.
1979 – 1984:
I was getting into photography by now, but getting frustrated with the quality from 110, and wanted to move into the world of 35mm, but on the budget of a student, as this was when I went to University – I chose a Praktica MTL-3. Stop-down metering, screw-thread lenses (that come undone when you zoom or set the aperture!). On the plus side, it was reassuringly sturdy – you could probably run over it in a car and it would still work.
1984 – to date(!):
For some reason, but probably a photo magazine recommendation, I bought an Olympus XA compact I didn’t fork out for the detachable flash extension though. I still have it, but haven’t run a film through it for well over 10 years. A fairly sturdy camera, although the back had an annoying habit of opening , and so ruining the film, so a strip of electrical insulating tape around the back was a permanent feature!
1984 – 1986:
Electronics in SLR cameras were becoming more affordable, and I decided to trade in the Praktica for a Minolta X-500, which I really liked – but I can’t remember why it didn’t last long – except I was getting more and more obsessed with quality.
1985 – to date (7th June 2015 – found it lurking in a box in the garage!):
My first visit into Medium Format, in the cheapest way I could – a Lubitel 166B – a TLR, taking 6cm square exposures on 120 film – there was a light leak with mine somewhere, but I still loved using it. I’ve no idea where it went – all I know is I don’t have it now. One of the best bits was the manual, which looks like it was translated from the original Russian to English, but clearly by someone who wasn’t particularly fluent in either! Such as:
1986 – 1991:
Traded in the Minolta for a Contax 137 MA – Zeiss lenses! Motor drive!! Faux-leather inlay in the body for a quality refined feel and performance. Sheer class.
1988 – 1991:
Backed up the Contax with a (very) 2nd-hand Yashica FX-3 – it shared the same lens mount as the Contax, so it was a very cheap way of having 2 bodies. I think I had one for colour film & the other for monochrome – yes kids, that’s what we had to do back then!
1991 – to date!:
I’d been keeping an envious eye on autofocus developments with the Canon EOS system, and finally an affordable offering came about in the guise of the Canon EOS 1000F – so I traded in the Contax / Yashica kit to move into this system (and have remained with Canon ever since).
1994 – 2012:
Replaced the 1000F with a Canon EOS 500 which Canon released as a replacement for the 1000 – it was a little lighter and a slightly improved spec (I gave it away to a friend relatively recently who wanted to revisit film photography rather than venture into digital photography!)
1996-ish – 2015!
I can’t remember the precise timing of this, but at some point around this time, I decided to make a real push for quality by investing in a well-travelled second-hand Bronica ETRS medium-format system (it could have been 15 years old when I bought it!). I’ve ended up with quite a system around this: 70mm “standard” lens, 40mm wide-angle lens, AE-ii prism finder and a speed grip. I came close to selling it in 2012, so went to check it out and found a film still in it! There were a couple of spare frames, so I shot those, got it processed and found well-exposed photos on it from a good 8 years earlier! Still as good as the day it was made 😉 I sold it earlier this year as part of a home “decluttering” exercise, but also to put toward my latest bit of camera gear (see below!).
1997 – 2015:
Canon released an updated version in the Canon EOS 500n which was quite a refinement over the 500, so I bought one, keeping the 500 as a second body. It continued the trend toward smaller & lighter, but I actually found it too small, so I bought the ingenious Grip Tripod GR-80TP which meant I could comfortably get an extra finger from my right hand onto the camera grip, but also it featured a nifty set of table-top tripod legs that you could unfold in times of need. This was the last film camera I bought, before being lured into the world of digital photography.
I rediscovered it when clearing out the garage as part of preparing for a move of house, and gave it to some inquisitive neighbours’ children who had never seen a film camera before – I hope they have fun with it 🙂
2004 – 2007:
This was it – I finally went digital, with a Canon EOS 300D The first digital EOS for under £1000 (although I think mine was “grey” and cost more like £750) – what did I get for this? 6MP, a small screen on the back, the plastic construction had a worryingly flimsy feel, a woeful kit lens and some pretty odd technical restrictions. But it was a game-changer for me, and I never looked back.
2007 – 2010:
I was to photograph my sisters wedding in July 2007, so earlier in the year used that as an excuse to upgrade from the 300D to a Canon EOS 400D I now had 10MP, a bigger screen, improved sensor, and many other technical improvements, and it felt reasonably sturdy. Image quality actually felt like it was the equivalent of film, but with all the advantages of digital.
2010 – 2015:
My photography was now in full flight, and I decided that it justified more than an entry level camera, and after all, I was missing so many action shots of our dogs because of shortcomings in the AF system of the 400D. So I sprang for a Canon EOS 7D – and absolutely loved it: 18MP, a very reassuring construction, a ‘professional’ feel and so many features, some of which I’ve still yet to try! But I’ve now got some great action shots of the dogs. And it got my daughter into ‘proper’ photography, that is using something other than a compact or phone – and has enabled her to progress with A-level photography. For her 18th Birthday, I’ve given her this camera.
2011 – to date:
As great as the 7D might be, it’s a hefty lump of kit, and at this time we wanted something that wasn’t going to eat significantly into our baggage allowance when going on a beach holiday – and as a family we also fancied the idea of a waterproof camera to take down to the beach without fear. And so we got a Panasonic DMC-TS3 – this has turned out to be a really fun bit of kit, for instance going out into the waves to capture breakers, but also trying to get underwater photos of my dogs swimming (although I’ve yet to get a good picture of that – but that’s not the cameras fault) – my daughter’s used it very effectively to take photos of friends modelling in a swimming pool for one particular A-level project.
December 2014 – to date: With an air of inevitability, I’ve gone for a Canon EOS 7D Mark II, which I have to say I am thoroughly loving. I’d got a good chunk of money from 3rd prize in a national photo competition, and sold the Bronica, both easing the pain of the cost of this.
Some of my photos are here