I recognise that those without any great interest in photography may find the next entry somewhat dour but for those that do enjoy making a personal pictorial record of life’s rich tapestry perhaps it will strike a chord. It is borne out by my finding recently that Tesco’s are selling 5x 24exp ISO400 film for £2.50. That’s like 50p a film, it’s all getting a bit ludicrous. When you think that they are offering processing to 7×5 prints for under £4 it got me to thinking about the old days when I first got interested in photos.

Not that I’m complaining of course, in those days buying a 36exp film meant you were going somewhere special because it would take some weeks’ pocket money to pay to get it developed and conceivably a fair bit of time to actually take all the pictures anyway. I had many films with half a holiday and some random event 3 months later. I am still a fan of 35mm SLR cameras because altho’ the camera I used the most was my precious Minolta Dim 7i (now replaced by the Minolta Dim A2) I rarely get around to printing that many off.

I remember when I started, I am old enough that my first camera was one of those classic Kodak Instantmatic jobs, almost a family heirloom it had been my mother’s before me. Double cartridge-like film, point and shoot, just press the button and wind. Looking back at the results now the lens quality was hardly scintillating but then of course in those days you had to spend a very serious amount of money to get anything else. I used to be one of those kids always with a camera taking pictures of odd stuff, I was always obsessed with natural phenomena like a particular shaft of light or sunset

My first proper camera wasn’t until a lot later, I had a couple of 35mm compact cameras which did the job you’d expect but for me the purchase of an SLR at 23 was a big thing for me. I was working in Blackheath where there was a small camera shop, in the shop was a Zenit 12XP a wonderful hefty piece of Soviet optical engineering and it came with a couple of lenses all for £50. It put both the fun as well as a little more professionalism into photography. It was completely manual which forced me to think about the focus, shutter rate and aperture levels but allowed me to play about with settings slightly off what they should have been. I used that camera for years in fact until about 2-3 years ago when it kind of died. I had for a couple of years prior to that started experiencing with the digital revolution starting off with a Kodak DC-40 which closely resembled a brick. It was easy to use tho’ and the results were very good, at least they were for snaps.

I went thru’ a period then of managing to sell the digital camera I had for as much as I’d paid for it and upgraded thru’ 4 Kodak digicams that way up to the 2MP Kodak DC3400. I have to say if anyone wants a good introduction to digital photography take one of those, it’s a ‘can’t go wrong’ camera, the lens is excellent (much better in comparison with a mate’s compact Fuji 3.3MP, and a hell of a lot easier to use, with his half the pics were always shaken and the focus was always a bitch.)

I did love my Kodaks but I’m a bloke and I like gadgets and I wanted a beefy camera that kind of said ‘I could have been a contender’. I took advice and spent a staggering £300 on the Minolta Dimage 7i. I have run some 5000 pics thru’ it now and it was it’s quality and reliability that led me to upgrade recently to its big brother the A2. Do I need such a flash camera, no, could I resist it, of course not!

But there is something still somewhat magical about the good old-fashioned way of taking pictures. I missed it, and about 18 months ago bought myself a 2nd hand Minolta Dynax 7xi which is very nice and quite flash but very automatic, so I’m currently testing out some old-fashioned manual cameras to see what I might be happy with. I like something metal and clunky rather than the modern vogue for streamlined and lightweight. Since you can pick up some really classic SLRs from the 80s for around £20 now I thought hell I’ll try some out. Some of the pictures in the G8 photo album are with my Praktica BC1 which I have to say is going to be a hard act for the others to live up to. Since then I have run some through the Minolta X-300 then the Praktica BCX followed by the Canon A1. I may try the Canon AE-1 and the Minolta X-700 if I can get hold of them cheap. I’d like to give the Nikon FM2 a go but because they are still used quite often professionally as a great camera to shoot from cold the resale value is still pretty high. If anyone’s used any of these cameras etc. then feel free to give me your feedback and experiences.

I’m not wanting to give the impression that I am in any way an especially accomplished photographer, I like to think I take the odd decent pic but that isn’t the point. I have always enjoyed it and always will and I have always got irritated even as a very young child if the duplicate representation does not match the orignal. I used to go into fits of rage at primary school in art classes because in drawing and painting I couldn’t accurately duplicate what I was envisaging in my mind. It drove me nuts and it still does, hence the need always for bigger and better cameras to record the events as I have seen them. If you like gadgets on a budget good old-fasioned 35mm SLR cameras will take some beating.

Song Of The Day ~ Goldfrapp – Utopia

Original Comments:

Shane made this comment,
Who can forget the agonising wait to see if those photographic masterpieces were actually anything like the image you remember taking. I used to have a lovely Canon Slr which I gave up figuring a decent photographer would put it to better use but it was the best camera I ever had. I’ve gone digital now which just lets me take more bad photos without worrying about the expense. Which is something I suppose.
comment added :: 30th August 2005, 09:19 GMT+01 :: http://thegagreflex.blog-city.com

rayts made this comment,
i’m so sorry, Red…I pasted the wrong draft. would you be kind enough to delete my first post?
rather, here’s the right comment i should have pasted…(again my apologies)

I had fun reading your entry Red. I was salivating with envy reading those models of camera you own and still wish to own. I guess our ‘ultimate’ driving force for engaging into photography is the same—curiosity, the need to express and capture something that we thought is ‘monumental’ no matter how trivial they seem to be.

Perhaps, every curiosity for taking photos starts with the instamatic cameras, the point and shoot buddy. Hehe. As expected, we always end up frustrated with the shots. Those were the times when parallax error doesn’t make sense to me and that distance ain’t workin’ in an instamatic cameras. I became obsessed with photography the day I discovered I couldn’t draw. Haha. Silly me, one can’t even distinguished the difference between a pig and a dog in my drawings (both having identical tails).

You’re right. SLR has always been a reliable buddy. My first SLR (the old-fashioned, heavy, metal body-typed) was borrowed from my cousin who doesn’t even know the difference between the aperture and shutter speed. It’s a complete set with all the accessories. I can’t afford to have one so, I had to maximize the use. Until one time, my brother practically saw me salivate to a new SLR cam and beg him for it. It’s a Nikon F55, which I truly adore. I usually stuck with one or two brands of cameras. Nikon or Olympus or Canon proved to be the brands I like. Then came digital photography, which I’m now enjoying (not having to go through the manual processing)…I started with the unrealiable Kodak 2MP, then settled with the Olympus C350 zoom which is rather convenient and produces more quality pictures. I’m still dreaming for a Nikon digital SLR, which cost around US$1k-2k (bloody expensive)…well, things will come in its proper time, I know I’ll have one soon (dream on).

Photography is such an expensive hobby if you know what I mean. But such fulfillment you get when you’ve produced the right image you’ve always dreamed of is simply priceless. Right? What are the usual subjects in your photos, red?


* I hope you’ll have the time to post here some of your precious shots.

comment added :: 30th August 2005, 09:49 GMT+01

John made this comment,
My first camera was a box ‘Brownie’ which had been my Dad’s. Now I have one of these digital things. No skill needed. Just point it and correct all your mistakes on your computer. I sort of miss all those ‘headless’ people.
comment added :: 30th August 2005, 14:45 GMT+01 :: http://bigjohn.blog-city.com/

Mark Ellott made this comment,
My first proper camera was a Zenith. These days I don’t use film. Digital has proved an accomplished siren.
comment added :: 30th August 2005, 16:12 GMT+01 :: http://longrider.blog-city.com