The Holding Tank

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My Old Hardware

This page provides a little background to the hardware I use and my photographic history.

Film Equipment

I first became seriously interested in photography in about 1980 when I treated myself to a Canon A1 with the 50mm f/1.8 kit lens.

After a while I got a 70-210mm f/4 zoom lens. Although ok image wise, it was so large and heavy I decided to get some prime lenses ending up with 28mm f/2.8, 85mm f/1.8, 135mm f/2.8 as well as a Tokina 17mm f/3.5.

I found a lovely second hand Canon Ftb as a second body. This is a full manual camera with centre area matched needle metering and in fact became my preferred body over the A1.

In addition this I collected various other bits and bobs including Vivitar extension tubes, Vivitar 2X converter (Seriously soft but light), Vivitar 283 Flash (That I replaced a few years back with the same version). Set of bellows by a small independent manufacture. Benbo Tripod with a Gitzo Offset Ball Head.

I had a lovely Vivitar natural and flash exposure meter with a 1 degree spot meter attachment. This worked well for a few of years but then died. Vivitar had no parts and so could not repair it but they gave me a full refund well done Vivitar! With the refund I got a Gossen LunasixF with 7.5 degree spot attachment (not as nice as the Vivitar prism spot attachment).

With this equipment I have had many years of trouble free photography using mostly Kodachrome 64 and Ilford FP4.

In addition I had a little Richo rangefinder compact that I called my poor mans Leica. This was small, silent and produced excellent results. Unfortunately it did not stand the test of time and the light proofing material turned to mush. At twenty years down the road Richo had no spares so that was that.

I also a had a few cheap medium format cameras like the Lubital and an old fold up camera second hand that was probably sold just after the war.

 

Digital Darkroom

I had a lovely medium format colour enlarger and all the darkroom kit that I had not used for years so in 2001 I invested in a Minolta Dimagescan 2 Film Scanner and an Epson Stylus Photo 1290 printer (this is the latest version, cant see much that is different).

There were better scanners at the time but I did not want to spend too much as I had seen the specifications for the Canon 1Ds and could see I would be switching to digital quite soon.

The printer was arguably the best photo inkjet at the time, and one of the first with archival inks and papers. This printer is capable of A3+ prints although I have only printed up to A3 on it.

 

Digital Cameras

I had acquired a 2Mp fujifilm point- and- shoot for family snaps sometime in 2000.

My wife and I then in 2004 had a long weekend trip booked to Prague. As this supposed to be a romantic weekend I decided not to take the SLR system (she has spent many years as my photographic assistant bless her) and instead got a little Canon Ixus 500. Now, this is really a point and shoot camera, although exposure compensation and lock are possible as is white balance control. It is 5Mp and produces very nice pictures at ISO 50 that can be reasonably printed at A3 and look fairly sharp. It is small enough to fit in a shirt pocket or a small pouch on a belt. An excellent little travel camera.

I had resolved to wait for a reasonably affordable full frame 35mm DSLR with about 15Mp resolution as a reasonable transition point from film. The 1Ds Mk2 makes this available but not affordable, or arguably liftable.

Now, the Canon 20D announcement was enough to tempt me. Major factors were:

a)     the very fast start-up

b)     fast shutter response

c)     always on power consumption level with standby and exit standby with shutter button

d)    despite 1.6X crop factor sensor, availability of the EF-S 10-22mm to permit reasonable wide angle

e)    Canon's continuing commitment to 1X crop factor (full frame) sensor cameras in the professional range.

A major problem for me is that my film-system glass is all New FD mount. I had only found out in the late 90s that Canon had abandoned the FD system in favour of the EF mount. This pissed me off and is going to be very expensive. I had more or less resolved to go Nikon next time, however:

i) Canon seems to be leading the DSLR field (sorry Nikon)

ii) Nikon seem to have no ambitions for a full 35mm frame camera (there is pros and cons to this, see Depth of Field).

iii)                The Canon EF lens solution seems to me to be technically superior for auto focus capability.

I downloaded some 20D test images from a review web site and printed them, I was impressed. My conclusion was that the performance was at least comparable to film 35mm. It may be possible to do better with film in terms of sharpness, but only with first class technique, heavy tripod, top film, top lens, good light and shutter speeds and minimal subject movement.

So I was hooked and just needed to negotiate over the spouse funding threshold.

If you are interest in my system choices as they develop take a look at My New Hardware.

Here are my thoughts on lens selection. I am still struggling with the primes vs. zooms issue, but it seems to come down to primes every time, despite me trying to convince myself on zooms to cut down on sensor dust contamination.

 

Last Updated 05/06/2008

All Content 2005-16 Lester Wareham All Rights Reserved     

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