31 July 2009



I chronicled last year my purchase of a Kodak ZD710. It is a bridge camera: half way between a point and click digital, and a "real" SLR.

I had bought my first digital camera shortly after the near coincident catastrophic failure of three 35mm cameras. I was always mildly obsessed by photography, something, like liking knives, I inherited from my father. My very first camera was not an Instamatic, but a serious (well, serious-ish, old, second-hand, war booty) German 35mm, and for many years I didn't look back.

After his death, I inherited my father's cameras and have been away in my time with Praktika and Olympus bodies and six lenses! But in 2002-3, all of my 35mm cameras gave up the ghost.

On a whim, just before a day I thought I might appreciate having a camera to hand, I bought a Canon Ixus. I was immediatrely converted: the thing I had never conceived was the idea that I could shoot hundreds of photos in one shoot. Setting, composition - thought - could all be set aside, as in a collection of a couple of hundred shots, there'd always be four or five which were worthwhile. This is, of course, balderdash. Without realising it, I'd sacrificed most of the hard-earned fun of photography for the meretricious satisfaction of instant gratification. There was no reason to stop using the Ixus, as I'd not really noticed that my approach to photography had changed completely. What stopped me in my tracks was another coincidence: a fault in the camera, and hearing one of my children saying that Daddy used to take really nice photos.
So I bought the Kodak: a bridge camera as I said above, and began to relearn the art of photography, but with the luxury of feeling encouraged by the very cheap price of memory of being able to make lots of mistakes. Over the last year and a half I have got more and more used to having the camera at my side again, and to have the feeling that recording the world is good.
And allied to this was the realisation that the Kodak simply wasn't up to what I wanted: this is no reflection on it, as it does exactly what it is asked to do. But if you want to set out on a big job, you need decent tools.

More Canon tools, as it happens. An EOS Digital SLR, with an 18-55 lens and a 55-250 telephoto lens to go with it. The power is awesome: full control again over depth of field and focus, the option to use real filters, but all of this allied to the option of fully digitised images (including the option of RAW format) to enable me to do whatever post-processing I might ever find myself wanting to do.
In an odd sort of way, this feels like growing up - I have achieved in my time exactly what my father achieved in his, and I feel a sense of contentment as I feel the weight of a proper camera again, and one I have to use the viewfinder for instead of that ***** screen on the back. This is what the modern age should be about.

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