End of the Line

In my 60-odd years of taking photographs I have made a few changes in my equipment, for what I considered to be good reasons:

  1. From 127 film slides to 35 mm slides with a rangefinder camera – to have more control over image quality, and get more images per roll of film.
  2. From 35mm rangefinder to manual focus SLR slides – to improve focusing and see the proposed image better.
  3. From 35 mm slide film to 35 mm print film – to make albums of vacation trips.
  4. From manual focus film SLR to Autofocus film SLR – because my eyesight was failing and I couldn’t focus properly.
  5. From AF film SLR to various and sundry digital rangefinder cameras – because I didn’t want the hassle of film any longer, and I was storing everything on the computer anyway.
  6. To both digital rangefinder and SLR cameras – because finally the problem of dust on a DSLR sensor got fixed – mostly.

That is where I am today. I have a tiny superzoom unit I can take on holiday, and a Nikon DSLR system for serious image making.

Here is an example with the small superzoom.

And this one was taken with the digital SLR and a wide angle zoom.

Now I’ve had my latest digicams since 2016 or so, and a lot has happened in photography since then. Smartphones are now used for 95% of all photographs taken these days, and sales of “real cameras” have declined by about the same percentage. The latest thing in the camera biz is “mirrorless.” Mirrorless cameras have largely replaced the DSLR, and the superzoom type camera market is hanging on by a thread.

Several times in the past I have replaced my equipment because the old stuff was obsolete or just didn’t work for me anymore (See above.) Should I be doing that in this day and age? I don’t think so because:

  • We aren’t traveling as much these days, and when we do it is shorter trips in the car. So I can take along my very best camera equipment – Nikon D5500 system. This solves the only problem I have with travel cameras – sometimes I have trouble in very low light if I have my tiny Lumix superzoom.
  • Most upgrades in digital camera technology in the past 5 years has been in video capability. Since I am really a still photo photographer that doesn’t apply to me. The older cameras still take wonderful still photographs.
  • I have a full set of Nikon DX lenses and a bunch of older Nikon film lenses from the early 1990s that still work – although I have to manually focus them. Replacing all those lenses with a mirrorless camera system would be very expensive.

The above was taken with one of the old school Nikon manual focus lenses. Since my cataract surgery I can accurately focus again – and the camera gives me an indication when I’ve got it right.

  • I can still take film photos with the old lenses and my 2002 F80 SLR but honestly I probably won’t. However if any of the grandkids gets into vintage photography classes in high school. I can donate a pretty good film system to them.
  • With my Pixel 7 smartphone I now have another capable camera I can experiment with. Initial impressions are pretty good, if you can live with limited telephoto capability.

Here is a November morning as captured by the Pixel 7.

  • Mostly I changed or upgraded my equipment because of frustration when I could not get the type of image I wanted. This has not been the case for several years now. Nor do I think that I have exhausted all the possibilities with either of my current “real” cameras. And I am just getting started with computational photography via my smartphone.

Although I may have reached the end of the line when it comes to buying new cameras, I certainly have NOT reached that point as a photographer. And one’s photographic skills are far more important than the type of equipment you have.

My Uncle Howard made wonderful images with a cruddy old 35mm Kodak back in the 1960s. I should always remember that.

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