I have used so many cameras over the years that I can hardly remember all of them. I know that every one I ever held or used I regarded as a work of art. And, for the most part, they were. Finely machined, carefully designed and built, meticulously maintained by their owners, including myself. Works of Art, all.
My favorites have always been single lens reflex cameras. I have been priviledged to own many, and I still do. I just don’t use the film versions much anymore.
My favorite SLRs were the medium format cameras such as Hasselblads® and Mamiyas®. I’ve owned several of each make over the years and each had its purpose. The Hasselblads® were used professionally as they could be relied upon to keep on working no matter what (but, I always had an extra one on hand just in case.)
I’ve also used view cameras extensively. For those who may not know, a view camera is the sort of old fashioned type where the photographer puts a dark cloth over his or her head and views the image upside-down and reversed from left-to-right.
They are used in both commercial photography, particularly in product and catalog work, and in art photography as they give the photographer the most control over the final image. The ones I’ve used had film/negative sizes from 2 1/4 X 3 3/4 inches, to 4X5 inches, to 8X10 inches.
Some were a joy to use and others were an effort of will. But they all did the job they were intended for: taking superb photographs.
Now, I am not using film cameras at all. I bought a digital camera around 2001 to take photos of objects I wanted to auction-off on eBay®. My first one was an Olympus C3000Z®. It was a pretty good camera (for the time) but it had some serious drawbacks. The lens exhibited pronounced color fringing, particularly, around objects of high contrast. I still have it but I don’t use it, except very occasionally.
For a time I used an Olympus E-30® DSLR (digital single-lens-reflex) which I bought with an Olympus 14-54mm Zuiko® f2.8-3.5 II lens. It was and still is an amazing camera with features far beyond any other camera in its price range. The lens is incredibly sharp and remarkably free of distortion. At wide angle settings it does not exhibit any serious edge fall-off as most others do. It was a joy to use. I also purchased three additional lenses: the Olympus 9-18mm Zuiko® f4-5.6, and the Olympus 35mm Zuiko® f3.5 Macro and the Olympus Zuiko® 12-60mm f2.8. All proved to be fine lenses for my purposes. I still use them and the E-30 on occasion when I want a lighter camera than the one I bought as a replacement for the Olympus – the Canon 5D Mk II®!
The Canon 5D Mk II® is a full-frame (meaning 36mmX25mm sensor size) which, because of the larger sensor and the high number of pixels (sensitive sites which record picture data – 21+ MegaPixels in this case,) DSLR which takes superior quality pictures in any situation. It has many advanced features but is primarily used as a great camera for taking landscape photographs. It is also capable of High Definition Videos and is often used in lieu of very expensive videographic equipment by independent film makers. Not that I use it in that manner since I have no interest (as yet) in shooting video.
I bought the Canon® in order to maximize the quality of the images that I shoot. It allows me to make very high quality large prints and to take photographs in very low light situations. Another bonus is that the lenses in the Canon® system are extremely fine, rivaling the best in the world for digital cameras.
As far as techniques are concerned, I have been primarily concentrating on learning, using, and mastering all of the features of the new cameras and attempting to master the incredible technical requirements of photo-editing software.
One of the techniques that I have been especially intrigued with is called “HDR” Photography. HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. It is not really new in the world of photography as film photographers have been practicing a wide range of techniques whose aim was always to increase the dynamic range of the materials they used. I, too, have used such techniques in my years of using film technology.
The photographic master, Ansel Adams, codified and practiced the Zone System in his work and has been an inspiration to generations of photographers since.
Digital HDR Photography, however, extends the range of the materials – in this case the digital image and the computer monitor or a digital photographic paper – so much so as to achieve an ‘other worldly’ impression! It is a technique which has many proponents and opponents as, taken too far, images can appear false and garish. Used properly, however, it is an extremely valuable tool.
These techniques are much more approachable in the digital world than in the film world. Software exists now which makes the production of an HDR image relatively easy. Still, of course, one has to learn best how to apply this technology in order to both master it and to make pleasing images. I am extremely excited about the possibilities of applying these methods to my own work.