In My Bag - Cameras

Part 2 of a series (part 1 here)

Summer 2013 - For the past couple of years I have been lusting over Medium Format and have done a lot of research. Changing to MF is a big decision in so many ways, not least the cost, so I needed to justify it as a business investment. As I have started doing more and more work photographing artists' work, I finally succumbed on the basis the image quality would exceed even what the Canon 5DII could offer. However, I also wanted something which I could use for my own personal work so I have acquired a gorgeous old Hasselblad 500C/M mechanical camera. This may seem like a mad idea but it suits the way I work. I have no real need for auto focus, machine-gun modes and crazy low light capabilities - I am much more interested in image quality, resolution and enjoy spending time thinking through how I want the final image to look before I press the shutter. I love this old 'Blad - I'm going to have some real fun with it.

Spring 2011 - I eventually sold my Canon 1D Mark II and replaced it with a Fuji X100 - this may seem like a strange decision but it came about as a result of deciding to rethink my entire photography business strategy, downsize my equipment and get back to enjoying it all again. This little Fuji certainly helped me do that. It has proven its worth on a number of occasions, being light and small enough to carry in a pocket or small bag almost anywhere. I also have it set up with an Eye-Fi card so that as I capture images they appear almost instantaneously on my iPad which has proven really popular with clients as they can see as I shoot. I use this a lot for reccy work such as in an art gallery and then shoot the final images with the 5DII. It is also a really fun camera to use - i love it.

Late 2009 - after completing my MA, I sold my Canon 5D and replaced it with a 5D Mark II as a reward for all my hard work! What a stunning camera this is, the image quality is superb and the rendition of colours is beautiful. I love the images it produces and use it almost exclusively. I am loathe to part with my beloved 1D Mark II since it marks a turning point in my photographic career but it is used so rarely now that sadly, I may have to.

Late in 2005 - Added a Canon EOS 5D  to my bag. It was just love at first sight - the camera felt great to hold and being lighter and easier to handle than the 1D Mark II, I found it preferable for hand holding when using a short prime or wide angle lens, although the balance on the IDMII is better with long lenses. The image quality from the 5D is absolutely stunning however and the full frame sensor is really superb for wide angles. The 5D gives me the best of both worlds as it compliments the 1DMII perfectly and gives some extra flexibility and a back-up body when needed. Paired with my beloved 200L prime, it is unbeatable for quality and is just great to carry and hold.

I had not appreciated just how important having a second camera body is, thinking it to be more of a luxury than a necessity, but I found that for landscape or close-up work it was unsurpassed. With two cameras, I can simply have a telephoto on the 1DMkII and a wide angle or 50mm on the 5D so I can quickly change between them. Often, when photographing landscapes, you suddenly spot a bird in the distance or a butterfly close by for example, and have to change lenses. Or conversely, you are taking macro shots of flowers and realise that the whole scene is inspiring. Alternatively, when photographing birds it can be useful to have a 70-200mm on one camera and a longer lens on the other.

The only issue with the 5D is that the sensor tends to attract a lot more dust which is another good reason for not changing the lens too often. The big advantage however is the file size of the image after converting from RAW, which is accepted by the most stringent of photo libraries.The Canon G1 digital compact still travels in the car - just in case - it comes in quite handy sometimes if I need to travel light or be discreet. 

Spring 2004 - Replaced my prized Canon 10D with a Canon EOS 1D Mark II  in 2004 - my first Canon 1 series and I still recall the thrill when I first took it from its box!. This is a camera which takes a while to get used to to gain the best from it but the image quality is superb. So too is its ability to focus quickly, especially in low light, and produce some stunning results. I find that I can lock focus on a moving subject quite quickly and track it. For sports or fast moving action such as animals running or birds in flight, the auto focus is unsurpassed and is a sheer joy to use. Mount this camera on a monopod (it is heavy, especially with a long lens mounted) or tripod and its ability to track moving subjects is just brilliant. I also love the ability to take SD as well as Compact Flash cards for greater capacity and flexibility. Whilst doing some freelance press work I was able to put an SD card into a Palm LifeDrive I purchased and download images to free up the card to use again and could also email or FTP using a Bluetooth connection to my mobile phone or a WiFi Hotspot!

Spring 2003 - I purchased a Canon 10D when they first became available, as the timing was just right - I was looking to make an investment in a digital SLR camera which I could use for the freelance design work I was by then doing and being familiar with the G1, I wanted to stay with Canon. I never regretted that decision. Despite the personal difficulties I encountered after my illness, coming to terms with my own memory issues and having to re-learn SLR photography, I found this camera was exactly what I needed at that time. It took a while to really get to grips with it but I persevered and spent all available time taking images.

I still have the very first digital camera I acquired, back in 1997 - a Canon Powershot G1. It is a great little camera and ideal if you need to travel really light or need to be more discreet. I chose it initially because at that time, when digital was only just happening, it was the only camera I found which used a Compact Flash card - all of the others at that time were using those flimsy little XD cards or others which, in my opinion, were not robust enough. I got it for just under £500 on a Manager's Special, which was a good deal at that time. The 16Mb (yes really) CF card I bought to add to the 4Mb one supplied, meant I could place the card into the Compaq iPaq I had at that time, for which I had purchased a CF Jacket. It was quite cool - I could actually see the JPG images shot with the camera on my iPaq screen and with a Bluetooth connection to my mobile phone, I could send them by email. Not bad for 1997! Having a working knowledge of Photoshop and digital imaging was useful and I got great enjoyment from using it with my own images.


Part 3 - Lenses