The digital years
This is the second part to my two-part blog on my life with photography. You can read the first part here. This is a rewrite of my original blog post from January 29, 2012.
I credit my father for introducing me to the art of photography with my first SLR, and he is also responsible for bringing me into the world of digital photography. In 2001, I was shooting exclusively with my Pentax SLR, until that Christmas when my dad gave me a Fuji Finepix A201; my first ever digital camera. Although I had sworn off point-and-shoot cameras in 1999, the convenience, image quality, and cost effectiveness meant that this digital point-and-shoot usually traveled with me along with my Pentax.
The A201 was an excellent camera for the transition from the world of film point-and-shoot. With a high quality glass fixed focus lens and a 2 megapixel sensor, the results were superior to an equivalent 35mm point-and-shoot loaded with cheap ISO 400 film in terms of sharpness and colour saturation. This camera featured a macro setting, a self-timer, control over the flash, the ability to over or underexpose a picture, and the ability to set the resolution and compression of the resulting images. It also featured a viewfinder as well as an LCD display on the back. It came with a 16MB memory card capable of holding approximately thirty 2 megapixel pictures at fine resolution, comparable to a typical roll of film. It soon became my everyday camera for general photography. While the lack of autofocus may seem like a drawback, it actually gave this camera a very fast response time at a time when digital cameras were considered slow.
Given the right conditions, the A201 was capable of taking some excellent shots. It came with software that allowed for interesting effects like panoramic stitching. However, it had to use its flash in dim light, and the fixed lens offered limited creativity, so I still used my Pentax SLR whenever I wanted a higher degree of creativity and flash-less performance in low light.
In March of 2005, I bought the Kodak DX6490, a 4 megapixel superzoom bridge camera that offered the convenience of a point-and-shoot with its smaller size and the manual creativity of an SLR. It featured a 10x zoom lens that went from a 35mm focal length equivalent of 38mm to 380mm. I had wanted the Pentax *ist DSLR; however, it was out of my price range. The DX6490 was a bit less than half the price of a Pentax *ist body, and provided me with the image quality I was after. With this camera, I moved completely to the world of digital photography, retiring my film SLR’s and giving my A201 to my son, who was old enough to be introduced to photography.
The DX6490 allowed me to push my creativity further than ever, in part due to the fact that bad shots could simply be deleted. I could try out all kinds of interesting shots without my experiments in photography costing me anything. It also incorporated a powerful and evenly diffused flash, resulting in pleasing flash photography. The lens offered a great range of versatility. Most interesting was a connector on the side that permitted the use of an external flash.
I had more fun with the little Kodak than I had with any other camera, but I kept running into its inherent limitations. There really was only one solution; I needed to return to SLR photography. In 2010, the prices of entry level DSLR’s had dropped, so I bought the Pentax K-x 12.4 megapixel DSLR with the 18-55mm kit lens, and the very capable DX6490 was passed down to my son.
Not only does the K-x work with all of my Pentax SLR lenses, it also received very good reviews. With image stabilization built into the body, I get the benefit of image stabilization with all of my great old lenses.
While the kit lens, which offers a focal length of 18mm to 55mm, is very clear and versatile, I find that I still prefer the F1.7 50mm lens as my most favourite. My 70-200mm zoom lens is another favourite, for getting up close to subjects without actually needing to get close.
This camera is capable of HD video at 720p. By shooting through the Pentax lenses, I’m able to achieve the same effects as high end studio quality video cameras that cost thousands more. This fact isn’t lost on filmmakers, and samples of excellent short films shot with the K-x can be found on Youtube.
There were times when I wanted to take pictures, but didn’t want to risk water or dust damage to my K-x or my lenses. In March of 2011, the price on many waterproof cameras dropped, so I decided, based on my good experience with the Finepix A201 a decade earlier, I’d go with another Fuji point-and-shoot, this time with the FinePix XP10..
It was a capable, though not remarkable, little 12 megapixel shooter with a 5x optical zoom lens and the ability to shoot HD video at 720p. What made it special was the fact that it was completely waterproof, shockproof, dustproof, and freeze proof. It was a tough little camera that could be used in places and in ways I’d never consider for the Pentax K-x, until one day it somehow leaked water, and after that nothing ever worked right.
This concludes the history of my life with photography to date. I will likely stick with a combination of DSLR and water/shock/dust/freeze proof point-and-shoot from now on. Photography continues to be a rewarding hobby which my wife and son are now showing an interest in. I’m constantly learning new things and exploring new techniques, and as I develop them, I plan on sharing them in my blog.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some pictures to take!