Epiphany

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Hello there photo fans.

I had an epiphany yesterday while looking at compact and mirrorless cameras of various types. In short, I started to think that I was being (potentially) ripped off by marketing. I looked at some of the really hot ‘point and shoots’ (some of which have been christened ‘the best digital camera in the world’) and just could not see the value. Small sensors (in varying sizes), small lenses, impossible viewfinders, difficult to reach controls. In some cases, the cameras themselves were not that small.

When I looked at all this, even the cheapest DSLR from Canon or Nikon started to look like a good buy.

I’ll admit that a few things were working against the compact cameras yesterday. In the first place I looked in, the cameras were all lined up in a narrow high corridor of shelving. They were able to be handled (more on this later) as they had those tether things on them. I did not get much of a look as, first of all, someone had broken wind in that narrow space and it was as though there was something dead (such as a buffalo) stuck in the space. I did not feel like staying, after that.

The next place I looked had no dead buffalo in the corridor of cameras, nor did it have more than 25% of the cameras that were actually charged. Imagine the excitement as I switch on a $1500 compact camera, best in the world, to see…nothing. How about having a battery in them and charging it every now and again? A decent battery should be able to handle being turned on in the store every now and again. Even the cameras that worked did not seem to offer much that I had not seen before on a $100 point and shoot. What was all the fuss about?

Some of the highly rated compacts were about the size of a DSLR, anyway. About the only special thing about these cameras with fixed, tiny lenses seemed to be that they are ‘more discreet’ (than a DSLR). Due to the size of some of them I am not so sure. In any case, I often feel that I need a more obvious camera to get people to look at it. Otherwise I get the group shot with one dude looking off to the left or right somewhere at something only he thinks is important.

A discreet camera is meant to be helpful for street photography. This may be true, but most punters seem to notice any camera that one holds. A compact can be held at waist level (look into the fold out screen), though I can do that with some DSLR too. People will usually see the camera held at the waist or at eye level. If they don’t see the camera, they must think you are holding your hands over your face or crotch. Might as well let them see the camera.

Most of my own ‘street’ photography bores me senseless anyway. Usually to make it interesting you need someone who looks like an extra from ‘The Name of the Rose’ (watch this film to see what I mean) or the guy with a bundle of sticks on his back on the cover of Led Zeppelin IV. Little else is worth the bother.

Normally I like nothing better than a shiny camera but these left me cold. Even if I had a spare $10K I felt no inclination to spend $1,000 on any of these.

I’m sure I have missed the point somewhere but, hey, it’s my money.

Canon EOS 3

This week we have also been shooting a Canon EOS 3. I own this one, and the 50 mm f1.8 lens fitted to it. These cameras are complex technically (the autofocus detects where your eye is looking!) but easy to shoot…

Here’s some snaps I took over the last couple of weeks as I played with the camera…the first is a Newtown street scene.

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Also in Newtown, I was a little unsure if I really wanted the full story as described below…R002-002

The next two photos star my little model, Jezebel…R002-029 R002-028

Finally we look at quiet, but wonderful, Copacabana surf club on the Central Coast of NSW:

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Shooting the Nikonos

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For those of you not familiar with the type, the Nikonos was the Nikon 35 mm underwater camera. This one is a model ‘V’ from the period 1984 – 2001. These were intended for specialist use by divers and as a result were very expensive at the time. As a result of the mass flight from film, these cameras are now ridiculously cheap.

What is it like to use? I borrowed one from Gold Coast enthusiast John Clark to find out. This particular camera – with a 35 mm f2.5 lens – is in good condition with all the seals intact. This is important, as the camera cannot be used underwater unless the seals are in good condition. This camera also looks clean when I open it up to put in a roll of ISO 400 film. IMG_4329_edited-1

I also put in new batteries (to power the shutter and LED viewfinder display), which go in a separate o-ring sealed compartment. Inside, there is a pressure plate which one lifts up to load the film. Otherwise, it loads like any other manual film camera. It is with mentioning here that to rewind the film the shutter speed dial has to be placed in the ‘R’ position seen in the photo below. This will not be a familiar feature for F3 users.

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Anyway, I loaded some film and took 36 shots around the local area. We shall see how I managed. Focus is achieved by estimating distance – it uses a scale focus system. Distance is set by the silver knob on the lens. Aperture (controlled by the black knob on the lens) and shutter speed are easier to get right as there is exposure metering. So, perhaps my shots will be correctly exposed, but out of focus. We shall see.

Well the good news is I managed to estimate distance reasonably well. Here’s a few photos from Sydney’s Inner West.

Generally I was pretty happy. Remember, this is a lens with no focus ring (or autofocus), on a camera designed to be used underwater.

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