Have Camera, Will Travel

Electro M5 (1966)

Like most people I have always liked to travel and document what I saw in my wanderings. That meant I was always  hauling along a camera of sorts. Since my travel experience now goes back close to 50 years the apparatus I took along has changed a bit. Here is a brief history of what I’ve used over the half century.

1969-1981 Yashica Electro M5

Type: Manual Focus Viewfinder

Medium: 35 mm Color slide film.

Summary: Cheap and cheerful, my first serious camera.

Got this one shortly after I graduated from university and it went everywhere with me. It was a rudimentary beast – hand focused, hand cranked film advance, no real controls other than sunny, cloudy, indoor settings. The flash was always a hit and miss proposition.

This one documented the earliest days of my relationship with Maria, our time in Port Hope and Montreal, Sarah’s early days, so it made a lot of great memories. In the right light it took pretty good slide photos.

Ah 1971. Not a bad year.

By the time I got to the early 1980s though. I was ready for something better.

1982-2002 Nikon FE and 3rd Party Lenses

Type: Manual Focus SLR

Media: 35 mm color slide film and later 35 mm color print film.

Summary: My life in pictures.

Pretty amazing that over 30 years I just used two film cameras. This second one I got from a work colleague who had it as a spare camera. It was and is a classic from Nikon. I never really took advantage of its quality though as I couldn’t afford a bunch of Nikkor brand lenses. The camera came with a small 50 mm Nikon lens, but I expanded that somewhat with some 3rd party lenses (Vivitar and Quantaray zooms, Kiron wide angle.) The whole kit was heavy and bulky but it went on a lot of vacations. It still is around somewhere in a closet at my son-in-law’s house. I used it until my eyes started failing in the early 2000s and I couldn’t focus with any degree of accuracy. It was slow and inconvenient to load film in but once you were ready to go, it was a workhorse. However just don’t try to take pictures indoors without a flash. The combination of slow zooms. low ISO film and shaky hands can give poor results with a camera like this.

Got some good memories with it though.

2002-2006 Nikon F80 and Nikon Autofocus Lens Kit

Type: Autofocus SLR

Media: 35 mm color print film.

Summary: Sight for sore eyes.

This was the last great color film camera I ever purchased and I got it just before film died and digital took over. It has all the bells and whistles of a Nikon film camera of the day – auto focus with the appropriate lenses, although backwards compatible with a lot of manual focus stuff. It is easy to load film and has an autowinder. I have quite a nice lens kit with it as well.

This camera went on a number of fine holidays right up to when we started cruising in 2006. But by then I was getting more and more digitally oriented. The film camera required a large supply of print film, and to lug it around I needed a big camera bag and strong arms (or needed to bring along a Sherpa assistant.) Even today when I could bring a digital SLR and a bunch of lenses on holiday, I choose not to do so if we are flying anywhere. Those days are over.

This one was pretty good with low light though, if you chose the right lens.

2007-2011 Fujifilm S6000fd

Type: Digital Zoom Lens “Bridge” Camera

Media: Fuji xD card

Summary: Relief for sore shoulder.

This camera was the first one I took on an extended holiday that didn’t have film of any sort. The Fuji S6000fd had a fixed zoom lens that enabled both wide and telephoto shots and no dust could get into it so I wasn’t worried about having to post process the images. It had a rudimentary electronic viewfinder that I could use if the light was too bright to see the screen on the back of the camera, so I could (and did) use it like an SLR. The only disadvantage was that – like an SLR – it was heavy and bulky and I just didn’t want to take it out on shore excursions after a while.

Can’t miss with photos like this though.

2010-2015 Canon S90

Type: Compact Mid-Zoom Pocket Camera

Media: SD Card

Summary: Light as a feather.

A bit of an overlap here as for a while I carried two digicams on cruises – The longer zoom for taking photos from the ship, and a smaller one for shore excursions. After 2011 though I just went with the S90 – lightweight, compact, and a great camera for good and low light, but there were two disadvantages:

  1. The zoom range isn’t really long enough to capture marine traffic or views of distant islands.
  2. No viewfinder and very difficult to compose photos in bright sunlight.

Be that as it may I did get some pretty good views of Bora Bora on our way through to Hawaii in 2015.

Future Trips Panasonic DMC-ZS50

Type: Compact Superzoom

Media: SD Card

Summary: Hoping for the Best.

No camera can do it all, but I’m hopeful this one might give me what I need for carefree travel photography. It’s light and pocket sized. It’s got a viewfinder that I can see well with glasses in bright light, and the zoom lens goes from very wide to very long. I can’t imagine any situation where I won’t be able to get a photo – even dim light should be OK as this particular camera can take pics at ISO levels I’d never envisioned in my earliest days. It has image stabilization and face detection so that eliminates other glitches. It can take 6000 exposures without running out of capacity.

I guess we’ll see but early results look promising:

So there you have it. After close to 50 years I’ve gone from one camera with a fixed lens, to one with multiple interchangeable lenses, to autofocus, to digital, to two digital cameras, and now to one camera with a fixed lens, I suppose that’s progress for you. Hmmmm….







Published by Ray MacDonald

Ray MacDonald is a retired food scientist who lives in Almonte, ON.
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