Photography Equipment

I’ve used a lot of different kinds of camera when taking my photos. In this blog post I’ll talk about some of the ones I used and how well they worked.

Analog Film

When I was younger going on holiday, the only film cameras I ever owned were disposable cameras. The kind with one roll of film that you use and then took back to the photo development store. I’ve lost track of where the photos from these ended up, no doubt protected in some family photo albums somewhere.

These were really fun to use, but looking back at the quality of the photos I eventually took, they were not that great. Because of how the viewfinder works on these cameras (independent of the main lens) I often ended up with a finger obscuring the photo.

But as a kid, having this thing I could use to take any kind of photo I wanted? I had a lot of fun pretending I had any sense of artistic direction, and it probably kickstarted my love of taking photos.

Digital Cameras

I have used everything from little palm-sised mirrorless cameras to big beastly DSLRs with detachable lenses.

The earliest camera I still have photos of was a Sony DSC-S90. It was followed by a Nikon Coolpix S225. These cameras served us through a lot of family holidays. It had a decent zoom and image quality, and was really serviceable as a tool for throwing into the bag when going on holiday. It met its end when a ned shot it with a BB gun, poor thing.

Its replacement was a small Olympus FE-5030, which I think was probably worse than the original Nikon. This was actually the last camera we as a family ever bought for going on holiday as after that smartphones started to come in. And even if the photo quality wasn’t as good, the phones were far more convenient to carry around on trips.

Later I would inherit some older digital cameras from an uncle and grandfather, a Fujifilm FinePix S6500 and a Nikon D70. These are the first cameras I use with really long lenses. Taking photos with these is a totally different experience to anything I’ve had before. It really gives you a lot more control over every aspect of the photo.

Mobile Phones

My first mobile phone was a ZTE model, I forget the exact name. It had a really terrible camera. My first mobile phone with a decent camera was a Samsung Galaxy S3. That was a great phone and served me well. For the time it had an impressive camera, though the novelty of that quickly wore off, as it was poorer than other DSLRs of the time.

More recent phones from the OnePlus series (3, 6, and 8T) have had amazing cameras, with ever more powerful on-device processing. No more apps required to stich panoramas together, or to do basic cropping and filtering. It’s all built-in. And the overall quality of the photos (at normal zoom level) is comparable with dedicated digital cameras.

The big disappointment I still have with phone cameras is a lack of proper optical zoom. Mobile cameras have some really powerful digital zoom, too powerful if you ask me, as so much detail ends up being blurred. But real optical zoom is still lagging behind the lenses you can get for DSLRs. A basic 3x zoom on one of my older DSLRs from more than a decade ago can give me a better photo than a recent smartphone camera.

I have managed to take some decent shots of the moon when lining up a pair of binoculars and my smartphone. It’s very difficult to line everything up, but produced some nice results.

Phone plus a pair of binoculars gives a decent amount of zoom

Mobile smartphones really excel with taking videos. I think mobile photography is just about catching up to where we were a decade ago with proper cameras, but video and filming have really taken off. I can shoot something in 4K or HD high-speed on something I can fit in my pocket. I think that’s amazing.

Camera Trap

Last year I bought myself a cheap camera trap. I used to volunteer a lot of time on Zooniverse projects, some of which involved tagging the animals caught on camera traps, and I loved seeing all the wild animals. I don’t expect to find anything particularly impressive in my garden, but it would be nice to see if there’s any nocturnal beasts roaming, like foxes or hedgehogs.

So far I’ve only seen common birds like pigeons and crows, some resident squirrels and my pet cat. I’m hoping in the future it will reveal more interesting animals.

Photography is about more than Equipment

I’ve used lots of different cameras, and while the higher end cameras produce better image quality, the most important thing is being able to find a good shot and take it. Tofind somethign that you can attach a good memory to, or that looks interesting. Even with a lower quality camera, that connection to what you’re photographing can make things all the better.

This is the last in a short series of blog posts about my photography. I’ve previously talked about programs I use and services I use.

Join the Conversation

  1. As a younger person I was an avid Photographer… (1960’s – 70’s) but life and work got in the way.
    I could never afford the high end equipment. The photographer I worked for recommended Topcon or Minolta as good quality, inexpensive equipment. I ended up with a Minolta 35mm with a f1.7 lens, then the 100mm f2.5 (possibly one of the best lenses of the day), then a wide angle and a zoom lens which got traded quickly for a fixed length long lens. Got just as good quality shots as my friends with much more expensive gear.
    Then there was my Mamiya 33, 330 (?), a Baby Rollei and somehow I got into subminiature cameras (16mm).
    I also have a box full of developing equipment and bellows, macro extension tubes, filters and the like.
    Only digital is a Sony s60 from about 10 years ago and the camera on my Kindle and Samsung Galaxy S3.

    1. Your Mamiya camera sounds like it would be a fun camera to use. I just love the TLR style cameras. When I was a kid, I used my Kodak Starflex quite a bit. Today, I have lots of fun with my TLR plastic camera, which I built from a DIY kit.

    2. Finding the time to take photos is certainly a challenge. With a lot of working from home I’ve found plenty of time to go on nearby walks and these offer a chance to take photos of the outdoors.

  2. Began more serious photography in the late 70’s (Yashica, Minolta, Canon, Pentax and now Nikon). Today I have a closet with several digital cameras of different brands (Nikon, Sony, Panasonic and Kodak) and while some of my gear is relatively expensive, I enjoy the Kodak most (go figure). As someone else in this thread mentioned: photography is more than the equipment. 🙂


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