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Cameras I have owned

(Oh my God!  He's actually posting something!)

My grandfather was an amateur photographer from way back.  He had all kinds of interesting equipment and at one point even had his own darkroom.  He gave me most of my early equipment and encouraged my interest in photography.

I was given my very first camera when I was about 8 years old.  It was a Kodak Instamatic X-15, the last Instamatic model sold in the US.  It had a single element plastic 43mm f/11 fixed focus lens and a fixed 1/90 second shutter.  It could use Magicube flashcubes, which were a pain in the butt.  It used the 126 film cartridges which produced a distinctive square print.  The camera was prone to miswinding, leading to weird double-exposures if you weren't careful.  I took a number of photos with this camera, but they've all disappeared.

When I was 13 I received a Vivitar Tele 815.  It had a built-in flash (no more flashcubes!  Yay!) and two fixed focus lenses, 24mm and 48mm, both f/5.6, which you selected by sliding a switch.  It used the more common 110 cartridges, which produced a more typical rectangular print but had smaller negatives.  I've only been able to find one print from this camera, a photo I took of Yosemite.

My grandfather also gave me a Minox III "spy camera", but it used a bizarre 8mm film cartridge that was extremely difficult to find and even harder to have developed, so I was never able to do anything with it.

When I was in high school my grandfather gave me his old Canon AE-1 SLR.  It was a real 35mm SLR with a 50mm normal prime lens, but the exposure meter was broken, so he also gave me a hand-held light meter.  I could still use the camera with manual exposure by getting a reading with the hand meter and selecting the appropriate settings.  It was a pain in the butt to use, but it was a great camera otherwise.  It taught me a lot about gauging exposure by eye and the effects of shutter speed and aperture.  I think my grandfather gave me a defective camera on purpose, to teach me to not rely on fancy automatic features.

In college I got tired of having to screw around with the hand-held meter and bought a Ricoh KR-5 35mm SLR.  It was a clone of the venerable Pentax K-1000.  It was full manual with an LED light meter inside the viewfinder.  I bought 4 KA lenses for this camera, a Samyang 18-28mm f/4.0-4.5 wide angle zoom, a Ricoh 35mm-70mm f/3.5-4.5 mid-range macro-focusing zoom, a Vivitar 70-210mm f/4.5-5.6 telephoto zoom, and a Ricoh 50mm f/1.7 standard prime.  I also had a Vivitar 2x macro-focusing teleconverter, which let me reach out to 420mm, though with the loss of several f-stops.  Although it had a light meter, the camera was still completely manual; you had to set the shutter speed and aperture for each shot using the meter as a guide.

The Ricoh remained my primary camera for almost 15 years until I bought my first digital camera, a Pentax Optio A30.  It was a 10MP 1/1.8" CCD compact with a 38-114mm equivalent f/2.8-5.4 zoom lens.  It had excellent macro capabilities, better than any of the cameras I had afterwards until my DSLM.  It also had a fairly large sensor for a compact.  I used to carry it around in my pocket all the time until the screen broke a couple years ago.

In 2008 I bought two cameras.  The first was a Panasonic TZ-5, a 9MP 1/2.33" CCD compact with a 28-280mm equivalent f/3.3-4.9 zoom lens.  Although it is considered a compact, it was more than double the thickness of the A30; I couldn't carry it in my pocket, so I attached a small case to the strap of my netbook messenger bag.  I still carry this camera with me whenever I take my bag.  It's still vastly superior to any phone camera and has decent zoom.

The second camera I bought in 2008 was a Panasonic FZ-18, an 8MP 1/2.5" CCD bridge camera with a massive 28-504mm equivalent f/2.8-4.2 super zoom lens.  This was my primary camera until just recently.  Despite being 6 years old, and comparatively low resolution, it has a zoom comparable to my current DSLM with its longest lens.  Like an SLR, it can shoot in RAW format and has full PASM capability.  This is the camera I used to shoot many of my rabbit photos.

As nice as the FZ-18 was, by 2013 it was beginning to show its age, and with a crop factor of 5.6, it was lacking a bit in the quality department.  Just before Christmas Costco started selling the Samsung NX2000.  It had better specs than the similar Canon EOS-M and was a lot cheaper, so I bought it.  It's a 20MP APS-C DSLM (Digital Single Lens Mirrorless, similar to a DSLR, but without the bulky reflex mirror & pentaprism).  The kit came with a compact 20-50mm f/3.5-5.6 mid-range zoom, a 50-200mm f/4-5.6 OIS telephoto zoom lens and an external pop-up flash.  I've since bought 6 other lenses, a 12-24mm f/4-5.6 wide-angle zoom, 10mm f/3.5 fisheye prime, 30mm f/1.2 standard prime, 45mm f/1.8[T6] 2D/3D telephoto prime, 60mm f/2.8 macro-focusing OIS telephoto prime, and an 85mm f/1.4 telephoto prime.  My favorite lens is the 85mm, which has a magnificent DOF.  However, I usually leave the 30mm lens on the camera when I put it away; it's the smallest and lightest lens I own, it's a standard lens (i.e. no magnification) so it's good for quick snapshots and it's simpler and faster to use than the mid-range zoom (precisely because it has no zoom) and has a 2-1/3 f-stop wider aperture (f/2.0 vs f/4.5).  The camera has the ability to connect to my Samsung phone so I can use it as a remote viewfinder or to upload pictures.

Now I'm looking at upgrading to the Samsung NX30 or NX1.  The latter will be Samsung's first professional-level camera, but I'm not sure if pushing an APS-C sensor to 28MP is a good idea.  It's also got a professional-level price tag, $1200.  The NX30 is Samsung's current high-end offering and is nearly half the expected price of the NX1.  It uses the same 20MP APS-C sensor as the NX2000 (entry level) and NX300 (mid-range) cameras, but has a proper viewfinder (the NX2000 has no viewfinder at all, just the screen), a higher-resolution rotating screen, integrated pop-up flash (freeing the hot shoe for accessories), faster shutter, faster drive and faster hybrid autofocus.  Which ever one I decide on will be able to use all my existing NX lenses.


( 2 pieces of cheese — Leave some cheese )
Aug. 24th, 2014 01:41 am (UTC)
Wow. That's a considerably longer history than I can lay claim to. ^_^; I sort of wish I'd got into photography earlier, but - with my emphasis on wildlife, and especially buns, I'll inevitably take many, many more shots than are ever seen. With film, I'd have been stuck changing films multiple times a session - now, it's just a few more GB for Aperture to slurp up off the card(s).

I know we had some very basic 126 cameras around, and Dad had a not much more complex 35mm at one point, of Russian origin, but not with an interchangeable lens, unfortunately. It wasn't really until my camcorder (1995 or so) that I started to think in terms of framing, or simply interesting opportunities. Moving to San Diego for a bit didn't hurt, of course. ^_^ (I must get back to the WAP sometime, and the Zoo - it's obviously a matter of considerable debate as to the merit of zoos these days, but, I've felt the San Diego Zoo have tried to offer some degree of capacity to their cages. Ultimately, I suppose there's no way of avoiding the need to provide greater space, even if that means fewer species in any given zoo. Much as I loved observing the red pandas, it was fairly screamingly obvious they weren't exactly comfortable with being confined to such a small area)

TZ-5, yay! That was what I plumped for, if you recall, back when I started getting into trying to capture the buns at a previous gig. Great zoom range, but really not so good on sensitivity. Still, with a sensor that size, compromise is the name of the game.

I wouldn't worry about the pixel count on APS-C. Bear in mind I'm on a D7100 these days, with 24MP on that format, and the outcome is entirely acceptable. (And with any luck, designers of sensors have more tricks left to pull in the future, too.. !)

I hope we'll be seeing more of your photography! Those last couple of entries have been quite a delight. (And hey, if you can get a happy bun or two in the frame, I won't complain =:)

For me, I suspect I'm fine where I am - FX'd be sort of nice, but so very much more expensive. The D810's a seriously capable device, but a lot of its capabilities wouldn't be relevant to me, as I don't shoot much video at all, and I'm always having to crop, so any reduction in pixel density wouldn't work in my favor. If I do switch bodies, it'd more likely be a successor to the 7100 - in particular, I sorely hope they spring for a serious buffer at last, and ideally, dual SPI controllers, so if you're writing to both cards, it's actually doing such, simultaneously, rather than as at present, writing to one card and then the other. (As I discovered during an uncommonly hectic chase scene.. *sigh*)

Still, it's all pretty damned good now. ^_^; Consider the rather.. perfunctory performance of the iPhone 3G, versus the 5s - that sensors have come that far in just five years or so is quite amazing. I'm hoping that the developments on small sensors is indeed feeding back up to DX and FX sensors. Rather sad that there are so few players in the arena now, but, I suppose that's inevitable, with the cost of development, and then the tribulations of actually fabricating the things - no coincidence there are similarly few semi fabs in the world now, given the billions required just to construct a new fab, let alone the research leading to smaller processes.
Aug. 25th, 2014 05:33 am (UTC)
I wish I had some of my old photographs, but I've moved several times so they're probably long, long gone.

Most of the cages have been eliminated at the San Diego Zoo, replaced by more realistic environments. The last major cage area, known by members as "the embarrassing monkey quad" was replaced in 2005. The Wild Animal Park is now called the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. They eliminated the free monorail, replacing it with a tram that costs extra for non-members.

I went with Samsung because they aren't one of the major players in the camera industry. They have some very innovative equipment, like a single-aperture 2D/3D switchable lens, cameras with NFC and even a DSLM with an integrated Android phone. Hopefully they'll help shake things up in the rest of the industry.

The bunnies haven't been very accommodating lately, though I have seen some squirrels around.
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