Reflecting on cameras today as a new (second-hand) camera came in the mail today. I’ve not been a regular photographer over the years, though I seem to have picked up some of my late father’s enthusiasm for it over the past few years, but I have owned a number of cameras over the years with different levels of attachment to them.
The first camera I used to any significant degree was an old Russian Zenit-E SLR 35mm film camera which my father lent me. It was big, heavy, and completely manual. It tended to misfeed film on a regular basis, but I got some good shots on it during my years at Canterbury University. (See http://camera-wiki.org/wiki/Zenit_ET).
When I was 21, the Zenith made way for a Chinon Genesis point-and-shoot ‘bridge’ camera (it was a birthday present from my parents). This was battery-powered with autofocus, 35-80mm zoom, built in flash, and ability to take multiple exposures quickly. It was much lighter than the Zenit, could be used one-handed, and was much more reliable. This was my primary film camera for the next 10-15 years. The only drawback to the camera was the fact that the batteries were expensive and I didn’t have any rechargeable options. It was still a bulky item (like the Zenit), so didn’t go with me as much as a smaller camera might. (http://camera-wiki.org/wiki/Chinon_Genesis)
Alongside the Chinon when digital cameras started to get cheaper I got a Mustek GSmart 300 digital camera in the early 2000s. This was a cheap, low-resolution 640×480 (VGA) camera that didn’t work well in low light. I’ve got a bunch of photos from it of the kids growing up but the quality is really not good. I wish I’d taken more film shots from that time, but it was good for emailing small photos over dial-up lines.
Following the hit or miss affair with the GSmart in the mid-2000s we acquired a Nikon Coolpix 4100 digital camera. This camera was a really reliable unit that produced good 4 megapixel photos which could be printed well, as well as having a range of shooting options and a removable SD card. The shooting option used most often was the sports-mode which I used to take a huge number of action shots of the kids playing football. I’ve also took some lovely landscape and nature pictures with the camera too, and it played nicely with both Mac and Windows photo software. At a pinch it could do panorama shots too (like the one below) but you had to photo-stitch them together using the supplied software. (http://camera-wiki.org/wiki/Nikon_Coolpix_4100)
Towards the end of the 2000’s I also started using my mobile phone to take photos. Just basic ones taking in the spur of the moment using my Nokia 6300 phone which had a 2 megapixel camera. Great for quick snaps on the go but not as good as the Coolpix for detail. (https://www.techradar.com/nz/reviews/phones/mobile-phones/nokia-6300-91643/review)
After that my digital photos tended to be taken on smartphones. Firstly, an Apple iPhone 5s which took some really nice photos. The iPhone was replaced by a Microsoft Lumia 640XL phone, which has been the best phone I’ve found for taking photos on. The Lumia screen was good, the controls was excellent (a legacy of the Nokia Lumia phones with their really good cameras and software), and the pictures came out well. I’d still be using it – esp. for time-lapse photography and for some of the photo apps that Microsoft made – except that the Windows Phone 10 OS died a death and everything just slowly stopped working. My current phone, a OnePlus 3T does the job mostly, but sometimes seems to have some distortion around the edges, and to be honest, is beginning to slow down in performance. Again, all of these liked to work in brighter, outside situations.
Having had some good experiences with phones, I was gifted (again by my father who seemed to collect digital cameras) a Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ7. So impressed was I by this little camera, that I spent a lot of time taking it everywhere with me and taking random selections of photos. It and its successors are great travel cameras. My experience with the LUMIX brand had me then turn to another camera in that series with good reviews. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3 was a few years old and only 10 megapixels, but it works really well in low light and shot really nice photos. It’s been my camera of choice over the past three years or so, after I picked one up from Cash Converters for $70. Plus it works with aftermarket batteries.
I’ll post some pictures from these soon. The LX3 will go to a family member as the new LX7 arrived today which has some extra features and an electronic view finder.
To be honest, these smaller cameras can fit in a pocket or backpack easily, don’t have the weight of SLRs, and still turn in great pictures (and can be used one-handed). Ideal for the photography I do.