my life in cameras

Unknown 120 Roll film cameras

I started in photography early, pulling the film out of my fathers camera to look at the pictures. No inkling of processing, but it is interesting to think of this in comparison to kids of today!

Somewhere as a kid we had another roll film camera. My brother and I shared this, including on a trip to New Zealand in the early 1970s when I was either 9 or 11, whichever was the year before adult fares kicked in. It had a cloudy, hazy and sunny lever which used to move three different fixed apertures in front of the lens. Sadly, I was often indecisive (it is hazy, but a bit cloudy as well) which resulted in positioning the unperforated piece of metal over the working bits. Lots of black photos.

Kodak Instamatic 56X

I think my brother and I received one of these each from my mother in the 1970s for Christmas. Quite a big present for us, and one that I got a lot of use out of. It went on a lot of Pathfinder hikes and camping trips. No focus, no exposure, but it did have magicubes! I think we used to try to press the shutter slower when it was darker.

Ricoh 35 Rangefinder

This was my first camera of choice. I had a few friends who had Olympus Trips and the like. The Ricoh had the advantage of a lot more control, including zone focussing and the ability to set the exposure and a bulb mode, which I think I did use to use from time to time. A nice camera, but I would have been much better with a rangefinder, I had a few out of focus shots to prove it.

Olympus OM 10

My first SLR. Bought from a friend who was upgrading to Nikon. A nice piece of kit, with the claim of being able to set the exposure ‘off the film’ during the shutter actuation. I had my doubts about that even then. I cannot remember why or who I sold this to, but it was prior to leaving Australia in 1989. I did have the additional ‘manual adapter’, what madness possessed them to come up with a camera that needed an additional plug in attachment to function well.

Pentax P30N

I think I bought this when leaving Australia to come to the UK in 1989, so it got a fair amount of use. I think it came with an awful zoom lens, I ended up buying second hand lenses in the UK, a f1.4 50mm and a Sigma 24mm f2.8, both of which I still have. Both need a service, but are better than their resale value would suggest. I also had a Tamron Adaptall 2 70-210 for a bit of reach (I think I had this with the Olympus as well), but it has never had a lot of use. Still have it as well, it is still ok, but I am not a fan of telephoto. My star lens became a Sigma 17-35mm, bought just before we went to New England, so I was able to get a tax refund via Mum. I stopped using the P30N after digital came along. Although it does have a mechanical only shutter option of 1/100 sec and mechanical B setting (from memory, my brother currently has my P30N in Australia).

Nikon 35mm fixed focal length autofocus

Bought in 1988 or 1989, this Nikon RF or RD (not sure which it was) was a popular camera for it’s time and my first to feature auto focus. It had a good lens and did take some pretty good photos for a point and shoot. I think the only features it had was a flash, autofocus and a self timer. It stopped doing something, so went to expand my father’s camera collection. I think it still works.

Konica Revio

Bought for my birthday, I was lured by the panoramic prints, and what I thought was a wide angle lens.  At the time, APS looked like a good option, with the different photo formats. Sadly, it was just before digital, it was a bit grainy on larger print sizes and the actual camera had an annoying habit of running out of battery and rewinding the film. I had a few films that only had 4 or 5 photos because of this, and processing was fixed price by then. I had it fixed under warranty, but it has had far too little use, superceded by digital.

Fuji A310

I was a relatively late arrival into digital. This was a nice little camera, I managed to get one that actually did a decent job of night shots. I had used a similar one from work, so I had a rough idea of the quality. Sadly, it stopped working during a period of disuse, I had been going to give it to Audrey. Sold on eBay for £1 for spares or repair.

Panasonic Lumix FX01

A nice compact camera. I chose this based on reviews and samples seen on the internet of night photos. Indeed it is pretty good at night photography, having up to 60 seconds exposure, unbelievable! It is pretty easy and portable as well. The only criticisms would be the noise over iso 200 and the jpeg artefacts in photos. Oh, and it has managed to get dusty insides and now has a couple of spots on the sensor. I have reduced them and am considering a good blast from the tyre nozzle at the garage. I am not sure it is worth £60 to professionally clean it when the LX3 (with raw and a 24mm lens) is going to drop in price soon!

Pentax K100D

Bought in 2007 with some backpay. I continued with Pentax mostly because of the Sigma 17-35, which on digital was a pretty standard zoom and saved a couple of quid on the kit lens, which I assumed would be inferior. Sadly the Sigma had developed spots (possibly fungus) which do show up at apertures smaller than f8 when pointed towards bright lights. I am not impressed with that, it was not that old, and I think I might have considered Nikon a bit more seriously.

I ended up buying a 12-24mm pretty quickly, the Samsung version as I was able to save about £100. It was still £450. The quest for wide continued. Buoyed on by extreme angles and panoramas, I bought the Pentax 10-17 fisheye, which I used pretty regularly for a while.

Sadly, the 12-24mm fell in a river in Australia. The travel insurance paid out, but only £200. As times are tough, I bought the MkII kit lens and a Digital King wide angle adapter. This combination was never much good so I coughed up for the Sigma 10-20mm.

Pentax MZ-30

A recent (March 2009) gift from the vicar. Autofocus, so a step up from the P30. Came with an awful 35-80mm lens (probably the same piece of cheap plastic I got with the P30N). Have put a couple of films though it, and it works nicely.

Pentax K-x

Upgrade December 2009. There are a couple of minor issues, such as the inability to turn of dark frame subtraction off for long exposures, and the lack of a wired remote, but I worked my way around that. I bought a Sigma 18-200mm which turned out to be pretty decent, but still as noisy due to the screw drive. A HSM Sigma 18-125 solved the noise issue. Not as much reach, but still a very useful and sharp lens. Much much much better than the Pentax 18-55.

Pentax K-5

Bought in 2011, allowing time for the price to drop and the fiasco of the oil spots on the sensor to die down (or not). First copy came from a German seller on amazon, but went back with an oil spot. Second copy came from a fantastic deal at Jessops, but again with an oil spot. Third time ‘lucky’ was another Tesco clubcard redemption at Jessops, no oil this time. Sadly, this one has a wonky level and I never got around to having it fixed under warranty. It also would not adjust focus on a couple of lenses, so debug and an overall adjustment brought it back into tolerance.

Sony HX 5 / 7

A nice little compact and a worthy successor to the Fuji and Lumix. Sadly the 5 developed zoom grinding noises so I sent it back. The 7 replaced it. Image quality is not so good as the 5, but it is OK. Pretty good in low light and a decent wide angle lens.

Olympus EPL1

I always like the rangefinder type cameras I have used in the past. Similar image quality to a full SLR, but compact body. I tried this for a while, but it was not quite the same. Not having a viewfinder did not do it any favours. Image quality was very nice though, not quite enough dynamic range, but OK. Eventually it began to feel too close in size to the DSLR and the lack of viewfinder put me off.

Nikon D7100 with 18-140

A proper excursion into the dark side. I would never buy a Canon, but Nikon has always tempted me with their big brand following and focus ability. I decided to bite the bullet when I saw a body for £630 (£250 below retail) and a good deal on the 18-140 from Hong Kong. I got some very sharp photos, but it went back. I had too much trouble trying to control the ISO and see what was happening in the viewfinder. I still might return this way, it was a decent camera and if others can use it, it must just be a matter of learning the ‘Nikon Way’.

Nikon 1 V1

Roll on Nikon again! Another ‘compact’ but this time with a proper viewfinder. I bought this with half a mind that I would leave it with mum if she gets on with it, but I ended up getting a second for myself, and the ultrawide lens to go with it. The viewfinder is handy and image quality is OK. Control is not so good though, you have to delve into too many button presses and menu items. I think of it as a programme mode point and shoot with an interchangeable lens and a 1″ sensor.