Saturday, 15 February 2014

about my camera

wedding-peonies b I've been meaning to do this post for ages, so, here it is: a bit about the camera and lens I use. I get asked this quite a lot, and so I think it is time I have something up here. I'll also add it to my FAQ page when my new blog is up, which should be very soon now! SO excited!

I actually wrote this a couple of weeks ago but it ended up being literally the longest post I've ever made, so I am starting again and will keep this short and sweet. I thought I'd add in a bit about my camera history too, to tell you about what I learned on and what I look for in a camera. So:

my cameras

I bought my first ever SLR – yes, no D in there, it took film! – back in 2003, when I was living in London. I got it off ebay, from a lovely man who was so incredibly thoughtful and met me at whatever the last tube station on the pink line is in East London with his wife and kids, to make me feel more comfortable. I learned about this camera, darkroom techniques and the pain – oh, the expensive misery – of film on this clunky and battered but much loved camera. Sometimes the film wouldn't load properly and I'd have paid for a roll of unexposed film to be developed... yep. There are a LOT of reasons I love digital! I still have this camera now.

red-hair-red-lips-blackest-eyes When I started this blog, I used a little digital point and shoot that I propped up on walls or whatever was nearby and set its timer. I then dropped it at Hanging Rock (yes, the one from the famous 1970s film Picnic at Hanging Rock, as it's close to Melbourne) with its lens out and broke it. Damn. I replaced it with a little digital Canon point and shoot, and thankfully these kinds of cameras were a lot cheaper at by then. John also found a second hand tripod for me on a trip to the markets that he did not want to come on and pouted about and wandered off on – what a good wanderer he was!

sparkly-table b Then my boss at the time, who used to be a keen photographer, let me use the work camera and tripod on my lunch breaks. It was some kind of Nikon DSLR, and having that depth of field and control was amaaaaazing. It also weighed a tonne, and I needed both hands to wield it. Still, absolutely loved it. John then borrowed his boss's Nikon (different model, I think, but same tonnage) for a weekend and we had a play with that, and loved it. I was hooked, and new I was ready for my first DSLR.

grace-toms a The first DSLR I bought was an entry level Canon one: from memory, the EOS 450D, with two kit lenses. It was around half the price of the Nikon I was looking at, and half the weight, and I wanted to make sure it was something I'd really need, and so this was the one I went with. I eventually got the cheapest f1.8 fixed lens for it, and that changed everything. It was good for a start, but about 20 months later I was ready for an upgrade...

breakfast-smoothie-blueberries-nectarine c my current camera

And so I got my current camera, the Nikon D7000, and the Nikkor 35mm 1:1.8G (ie. a fixed f1.8) lens. (Not being a full frame camera, the 35mm bit is affected, so keep that in mind.) I knew when I went to the shops that I wanted something very crisp, clear, sharp and vibrant, and none of the dreamy, smokey qualities (erm, such technical terms there!) that I thought I'd like – I wanted to capture things in a really immediate, vivid way. I think it helped that the sales girl used the Nikon D7000 when she wasn't doing professional shoots, and loved it.

But it was also light enough for me to use with one hand, clear and punchy and clean and it does something magical with light that I love. It's great in low light settings (especially with that f1.8 lens, of course) and the ISO goes really high and doesn't get too noisey too quickly, which is excellent for taking shots at night in restaurants without blinding your fellow diners with a flash, which I think can be a bit rude to do. It's also pretty tough and I can carry it about everyday in my handbag, tucked into a chopped up padded camera bag for some protection. I also have an 18-55 lens but I hardly ever use it.

christmas day dress Like everything, it does have its cons. The focus can be a bit, um, moody, and I find I have to adjust the AF fine tuning fairly often. (There are some great youtube videos on that if you need it.) When it works, it's crystal. I find that the Auto White Balance setting is amazing in most lighting scenarios. I used to always set it manually, but a professional photographer who also uses this model told me that the Auto setting would be fine, and she was right. However, I find that oranges and greens are a bit tricky in my pictures. Oranges get quite washed out, and greens, such as, say, grass, can go very bright – like, fluro bright! – and a little bit yellow. I go in and adjust them in Photoshop, and it's easy enough to fix. But these are my only gripes with this camera. I also love that it has a lot of focus dots – very freeing! I've been wanting to get an f1.4 lens for over a year, and maybe even a new camera – something dreamier and more ethereal, perhaps, but still good with low light, and I'd like to try out full frame ones... it'll be fun to try new things, and to learn new things too!

I hope that was helpful. As ever, any questions, and just ask! toorak-street b


Porcelina said...

This is really helpful Marianne - I've been hankering after a digital SLR for such a long time now, but my OH thinks I should practice on his old-school film SLR first. I've got a little Fugifilm digital point and shoot, and it does have some manual settings like aperture and ISO you can play with, so I've been practicing a bit with that too. I think you've confirmed to me today that I don't need to rush into buying a DSLR and that you learn some valuable stuff from whatever camera you have. When I come to buy one though I'll be sure to refer back to this post!

Thanks, P x

Jessica Cangiano said...

What a heartwarming, lovely post. Much like cars (and computers), cameras are often with us for many years at a time and we cannot help but for a bond with them. We rely on them, derive joy for what they bring into our lives, and are usually quite sad when they finally give up the ghost. It's touching to see a post that looks not just at one's most recent camera, but at their entire history behind the lens and which pays tribute to all the camera's you've owned, past and present.

♥ Jessica

Amber Jade said...

Thanks so much for this post! I'm sure you hear a lot how gorgeous your photos are, I wish I could create something as beautiful!
I recently bought my first DSLR after not having used an SLR in about 10 years and I went with the Nikon D5200 and have been pretty happy with it so far (though I'm a total beginner and still have LOADS to test and learn about the camera). Hopefully one day my blog can be full of pictures half so nice as yours! :)

Amber Jade
Fairytales and Following Trails

Nikki said...

My journey from film to a DSLR went about the same! I never had a film camera, but used disposables as I was only around the age of 8 to 12 then. My parents always bought one for me on special occasions such as a day at the zoo or a school field trip. I still have most of the developed photos from back then! They're horrible, haha. I worked with different point-and-shoots during High School, and eventually bought my first DSLR about 3 years ago after trying a few models that my friends had. I went with a Nikon D3100 and still us it daily, but I'm really thinking about a saving up for a full frame. the Nikon D600 tops my list :) Like you say, my Nikon has a 1.5 cropped sensor, meaning that a 35mm on my camera functions as a 50. I wish I knew that before, because I bought the 50 back in 2012 but it basically is a 75 and therefor isn't the best for blog photography. Anyways, I liked reading this post ^^ It's always fun to read how people got into photography and how their cameras grew with them :) I hope you continue learning and growing your skills! You always have such pretty and bright photos :) xo

Emma Cherry said...

It's interesting to read this - I started off pretty much the same as you with an old SLR, buying film, waiting for it to be developed, etc, etc.
I also use an equivalent lens to your f1.8 one for my Canon camera, with the fixed lens. For me the real con to the lens is not having control to zoom out, I can never seem to get everything in the frame - although this lens works better in low lighting as you say. I just need a lens that does everything but break my bank haha!
I am also ready to upgrade my current camera body, I'll have to start saving :)

Great post Marianne!

Dear Thirty Vintage Blog

Sarah Zinc Moon said...

Thank you for sharing the camera the photos you take! I am a fuji girl myself and my current love is a fuji X100! Majority of the images on my blog are taken with it and have had a huge learning curve with trying to make sense of all the settings etc! The only thing I wish it had was the option of a remote...

Danielle said...

Thank you for sharing this ! I'm working my way up to a DSLR, and have no idea where to start! Your camera journey has been lovely.


Danielle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sparrow said...

I have a bit of an unfair advantage with my camera history- I took photography in Year 11 (25 year ago!) with an old SLR my uncle gave me. Then I 'downgraded' to a 120 my dad's best mate bought back from Vietnam, and I have to say I used that and an Olympus Pen-e half-frame all the way up til 2004! Then I bought some 5 and dime digital which was only 3.6 megapixels, and 5 years ago I bought what I have now, a Nikon SX10is. It's considered a point n shoot but it gives me great results, I would recommend it to anyone. And last week I finally bought a smartphone and chose the Nokia Lumia 1020, which has a 41 megapixel camera! And it's divine... Nikon really are the best cameras I think.

esme and the laneway said...

Porcelina : glad it was helpful, although i don't think that there is any benefit from learning on a film camera if you want to use a digital one :) DSLRs definitely pushed me with taking pictures, and I've never regretted buying one!

Nikki : I've heard good things about the D600! And yes, the limited fixed lens thing can be a pain for blog stuff, and I can't imagine going back to something with zoom! x

Emma Cherry : thanks :) yep, the no-zoom thing took me a while to get used to, but I can't imagine things being the other way now. When I do sue my other lens zooming feels so weird! It does get expensive but good equipment makes such a difference x

Sarah Zinc Moon: oh yes, a remote changes everything! It saves SO much time!

Danielle : it's so overwhelming! If you find images you like online, asking what camera they use is helpful, and of course having a try in stores is good too (although it's v hit and miss what kind of service you'll get...)

Sparrow : I've found that megapixel stuff doesn't interest me that much, I don't think it makes a big difference to images these days. It's the stuff I don't always know the names of that affects everything!

The Dainty Dolls House said...

I really need a new camera...your pictures are always so lovely x

Jen W said...

I adore your images- and love the way the colours pop, but in a dreamy way, in your photos. Do you have sets of actions/presets that you use for blog image editing?

I use a similar prime lens to you and use it almost exclusively when I'm out and about.It's the sigma 30mm 1.4.Very fond of the focal length on my cropped frame.

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