This summer marks 10 years since my first tentative steps into the world of digital photography. I had always wanted to be a good photographer, but the cost of film and processing made it fairly prohibitive. I did a little darkroom as a child and carried a camera ever since I got my first one at 14 (I have shoe boxes of photos and negatives to prove it).
In the summer of 2003 I was frustrated with film and decided to make the jump to digital. I was attending lots of concerts and was tempted by the prospect of good concert photos, particularly as I sometimes had good seats.
My first jump was a teeny tiny Nikon Coolpix. The bottom of their line, less than $200 and I was thrilled. It took good pictures, but not great concert photos. I’m not even sure if any photos remain from this relatively short period. I did keep this camera for a while after I upgraded and then I sent it off to my mother who loved it and used it extensively until about 2 years ago. Never let it be said that the Coolpix is not a workhorse of a camera!
Building on my friend Sarah’s success with it, I purchased a Kodak point and shoot. Yes, a Kodak. This might be my favorite camera ever. It had a Schneider-Kreuznach lens, a nice long zoom and let in a huge amount of light. My photos of U2 were taken with this camera and are among my favorite. A picture I took with this camera was published in Rolling Stone. This was a fantastic camera. I could sneak it in to any event and get great photos, even from a distance. I still have it in a storage box somewhere and would use it, except that I lost the battery charger.
My next ‘upgrade’ (though I continued to use the Kodak) was my first SLR camera – the Canon Rebel XT. This has been an excellent camera for me and I still use it 8 years later. I’ve shot three weddings with this and numerous events. I love love love the smaller body, which is perfect for my smaller hands. For an entry level camera, this did/does great things.
My next camera (to replace the Kodak) was a Panasonic Lumix camera. I was heading to the UK and didn’t want to carry the bulk of the SLR. I had seen some good shots out of this camera and decided to take the plunge. While this did an okay job in daylight, it was disastrous in low light. It was an object lesson in the dangers of too much zoom with not enough light and the rookie mistake of assuming that if you have the higher ISOs, you should use them. This is my first really disappointing camera. I gave it away to someone who wanted to learn manual controls.
To replace the Lumix I took a gamble and tried the Canon G9. I had seen great reviews and thought it would make a great street camera for my time living in London. Yes and no. I did like the camera, but it couldn’t compete with the SLR. Plus, as happened to many people, the lens cover ended up scratching my lens. I only used this camera for 2 years, which is unusual for me. Canon’s G line takes good pictures, but for the price, I’d rather have an SLR or a new lens.
Last summer it looked like I was going to be shooting another wedding and my Rebel XT was getting fairly tired, so I decided to get a second camera body, this time with video capability. Since the Rebel line had served me so well, I went for the Rebel T3i. This is another great DSLR. The quality of the images is great, it feels great in my hands and so far has been sturdy (though it feels very plastic-y). I would recommend this camera to anyone.
This year I decided it was time to replace the dead G9 in time for my trip to Toronto. On the advice of my photography friend Sarah, I purchased the Canon SX260. I’m still learning to use this well, but I can’t argue with the results I got on my trip. This camera is tiny, but produces good, sharp images. My only regret is that it doesn’t produce RAW. I hope I’ll be carrying this for years to come.
Honorary mention goes to the Canon 5D Mark II that I had for work while in England. That is a gem of a camera. The quality of the images I produced with that camera and the video that we shot has been unmatched my all my photography experience. I’m still sad that I had to give it up when I left the organization.
I also currently have two film cameras. The first is my mother’s Minolta SLR from the 60s. This camera taunts me with its totally manual controls and lack of flash. Will I ever reach the point where I feel confident using it?
The other is a mini Diana, which I haven’t used yet. I bought it at the beginning of the Lomography trend and never felt like I had anything cool enough to photograph with it. Then it became a hipster camera and I felt a little foolish using it. I must dig it out.
10 years and 8 cameras. Wow – it feels a little foolish when expressed like that. Photography is obviously a very expensive hobby!
I’ll be interested to see what the next 10 years brings. A mirrorless? An upgraded body? More lenses? Hopefully my photography will keep getting better!