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z_Rob's cameras etc

Comet 126
At the tender age of about 5 or 6 (yes really!!  I kid you not!!) I was given one of these to develop an appreciation of photography.  It must have worked as nearly 40 years later I still love picture taking!  Found this one in a charity shop, I was not brave enough to buy it!

Boots 'Beirette'
After the initial 126 Mum and Dad gave me one of these with which to hone my skills, not a bad little camera, badged as 'Boots' but the Beirette was actually East German and gave pretty good results for a cheap introductory level camera.  Don't know what became of it but apparently they are pretty rare these days.

Rank Mamiya 35mm rangefinder
Images courtesy of Mark at 
This was a 'hand me down' when Dad got his Olympus 35-SP, good results from this, it seldom missed exposure as long as you were careful with its funky zebra striped light meter and it was nicely built.  With a 40mm f2.8 lens and the 'double image' rangefinder it was good fun to use but the best bet was often to use the light meter to take an 'incident' reading from your subject or you could catch the meter out on a bright day if you were shooting into the sun.  I eventually sold it to a school friend to help fund the move into SLR photography.

Pentax K1000
This was my first SLR, I only had it for a year or two as upgrading to an AE-1 beckoned and I sold it for the same as I paid for it so that wasn't too bad.  The Pentax 50mm f2 lens was excellent, really sharp and probably even better than the Canon one, possibly also that of my Dad's Olympus OM2n.  Proper TTL focusing using the matt screen and centre 'freznel' was a revelation though after the rangefinder.  It gave me a good grounding in grasping the concepts that are so important too, the relationship between shutter speed and aperture, depth of field etc. and it actually felt a shame to part with it but it was for a good reason, the time had come to start building a system with the Canon! 

Canon AE-1
When I was still at school (about 1979!) a visiting professional photographer was showing everyone his photos of aircraft, when it came to 'questions' I asked him what sort of camera he used and it was one of these.  I'd already been salivating (!!) over the AE-1 in the 'Boots the Chemist photography catalogue' and the die was cast, I just had to have one.  Eventually, Christmas 1980 after a lot of saving and with a lot of help from Mum and Dad I was at last able to get this for a good price, brand new from the camera shop in Newton Abbot with the standard 50mm f1.8 lens.  I continued using my AE-1, with a breech lock 135mm f3.5 telephoto and a Tamron 28-70mm f4 zoom until the arrival of the T90 in 1992 and I still have the AE-1 in reserve.  The AE-1 served me well, in all that time has only needed repair or servicing twice, once when the shutter developed a squeak after a couple of years and again a few years ago just to keep it healthy.

Canon T90
Known as 'the tank' by its engineers but in reality its very much the forebear to the modern dSLR in terms of its design and functionality, a lot of design cues here are just the same as in my much newer EOS1d and a whole range of other premium quality dSLR's.  I had been hankering after a T90 since they were announced in 1986, bizarrely it was rendered obsolete by the new EOS autofocus system within a year or so of its announcement though in reality the new system would take a little while to catch up.  When I bought mine in 1992 it was still very much considered to be a pro-camera though by this time the pro's had moved on but at least secondhand manual focus FD lenses were getting more affordable.  

At the peak I was using this solely with Canon FD lenses comprising the 50mm f1.4, 28-85mm f4 zoom, 70-210mm f4 zoom, 100mm f2.8 short telephoto, 135mm f3.5 telephoto, 300mm f5.6 telephoto, the Command Back 90 and the 300TL flashgun which still gets used occasionally (albeit manually) with the EOS1d.  I used the T90 continuously from 1992 to 2006 when the move to digital finally happened, if it wasn't for digital I would still be using it!

Olympus E-10
This was my real introduction to the world of dSLR photography and served me well for the three years since 2006 and was still very much part of the armoury until the shutter died in 2013(!).  It was 'only' 4 megapixel but the detail and clarity suggested otherwise and the lens is an absolute peach offering largest f/stop of f2 to f2.4 (in a zoom equivalent to 35mm to 140mm), good going!!!  There are limitations, fixed lens (but no sensor dust !) limited shutter speed and ISO range but its still a thoroughly good bit of kit and in some aspects modern dSLR's are only just catching up now with live view and larger aperture lenses.  The fixed zoom lens can be extended with attachments for 28mm equivalent, 200mm equivalent and a macro convertor which worked really well. 

Canon EOS1D mkII
When the opportunity presented itself to upgrade from the Olympus to this for a fair price in 2009 it just had to be done.  There was great temptation to try the new Olympus E-3 but the prices had just gone up, didn't like the Sony and never been a Nikon man so Canon was looking promising again, there were some cracking deals on the EOS40d and the EOS50d with 15mp image sensor was tempting but the chance to get the EOS1d for 'the right price' was just too good an opportunity.  When I was still using the Canon T90 I said what I really wanted was a digital T90, now at long last I have one!!!!  This may 'only' be a 8.2mp image sensor but its almost a full frame which make the pixel handling smoother (1.3 crop factor) and pretty much eliminates picture noise even at very high ISO settings, the results are outstanding though you do have to be careful of sensor dust which can be a nuisance but as long as care is taken can be dealt with.  

Canon EOS1D mkII
50mm f1.8 mkII
20-35mm f3.5-4.5 wide angle ultrasonic zoom
28-135mm f3.5-5.6 IS (image stabilised) ultrasonic zoom
100-300mm f4-5.6 ultrasonic zoom
35-80mm f4-5.6 ultrasonic zoom converted for 1:1 macro

Olympus E-1


Well what a blast from the past!  I always liked the E-1, just a shame it was seen as being outmoded technologically almost as soon as it was released.  The old E-10 finally died and these seemed to be a pretty good deal secondhand so I figured 'why not'!  The old E-1 has quite a following by those in the know, the Kodak sourced 5mp sensor gives significantly better results than you would expect and the colour and IQ is frankly amazing for a more than 10 year old camera and has actually been used more of late (since March 2013) than the significantly heavier and bulkier EOS-1d and 1ds, so much so it has seen the addition of a number of zuiko digital lenses (which are frankly superb) and prompted the purchase of the not so new Olympus E-3 which will soon be finding some use as well!

Olympus E-1
14-54mm digital zuiko f2.8-3.5 zoom
HLD2 Power battery holder

Olympus E-3


Well I finally received my 'new' (to me) E-3 received well packed from N.Ireland (thanks Connor) and it has been great fun, timing was such that I was able to take it on holiday to the UK (September 2014) to a very sunny Shropshire so circa 900 images in one week (thats a fair test!) and the colours and clarity of the Zuiko lens and Olympus 10mp sensor has not disappointed, the IS works well and other than a few sensor dust bunnies which were soon cleaned off with the anti-static brush the sensor cleaning keeps everything happy (me included).  Its bulkier than the E-1 but lighter and more mobile than the EOS-1d/ds even with the battery grip fitted so has proved to be a pleasure to use.  Only gripe is low light/long exposure performance on the sensor is, in my opinion poor, even using the built in noise reduction programme so any experimentation with long night time exposures will be on the EOS.  The 4/3 system is now seen (2014) as a dead system with Olympus moving more to micro 4/3 especially with the arrival last year of the OMD-EM1 (which I did look at, maybe one day but not yet!) but the results so far have reinforced the view that it is a good bit of kit and will doubtless get plenty of use for the foreseeable future.

Olympus E-3
12-60mm digital zuiko f2.8-4 SWD zoom lens
HLD4 power battery booster
50mm digital zuiko f2.0 prime macro lens
50-200mm digital zuiko f2.8-3.5 zoom
ec14 1.4x digital zuiko teleconverter
ex25 digital zuiko extension tube

Canon EOS1Ds mkII

The bigger, higher definition sensor of the 1Ds is a revelation (16.4mp and full frame) and provides remarkable results particularly when teamed with Canon 'L' series lenses (as well as the recently acquired and superb Sigma 50mm f1.4), with a setup like this you really feel like the gloves are off.  Thank you for my new camera Aunty Kath, I really like it (see blog).  This really came into its own with a couple of weddings (David and Sadie & Matt and Becky) in 2013, it looks and sounds the part but the results were superb and really was a defining time for playing with the camera.  I'd really love to do this stuff full time but unfortunately (I guess) having an established career means changing horse now just isn't on the cards (and I'm just not that brave!!).  Mind you ...!
Canon EOS1Ds mkII 
Sigma 50mm f1.4 EX DG HSM
17-40mm L f4 ultrasonic zoom
28-80mm L f2.8-4 ultrasonic zoom
70-200mm L f4 ultrasonic zoom
Canon Speedlite 580EX 
Lowepro Fastpack 350 camera/notebook rucksack
Cokin A and P series filters
Giottos 9351B Pro Tripod with MH5011 Head and Jessops 'pro' ball head
Canon ZoomBrowser EX for photo download
Photoshop Elements 8 for Mac and Adobe Camera Raw
Aperture 3 for iMac

FujiFilm X100T


Coming soon!