The Family Camera
When I was a kid, we had a family camera. It was really my mother’s and she was the only one allowed to load film into it, which as I recall had to be done in a dark room and involved a tricky threading of the end of the film onto a spool.
To take a photograph, you held the camera at waist height and tried to see the subject in the tiny little viewfinder in the top of the camera.
If the subject was a person, you warned them not to move so that the picture wasn’t blurred and then you moved a little lever that released the shutter. Following that, you wound a knob that advanced the film until a number clicked into place. If you didn’t remember to do that, your next photo would be double-exposed (two photos exposed onto the one frame – never a good look).
I think you could take 8 photographs. Then you would rewind the film using the same little knob and send it off to be processed. That took about a week.
My First Camera
When I was 15, by using my savings from pocket money and odd jobs, along with a cash birthday present, I was able to purchase my very own camera.
It was a Kodak Retinette 1A. I wish I still had it.
I loved that camera.
It had an eye-level viewfinder that actually allowed you to see the subject clearly. It was still a separate lens from the shooting lens, of course, so you couldn’t see if the subject was in or out of focus and it showed two rectangles, the inner one to allow for parallax error as the subject got closer to the lens.
Focus was manual. You estimated the distance to the subject and dialled the focus ring to that distance. Two markers that moved as the aperture was varied showed the depth of field. Aperture was manual and the range was 3.5 to 22. Shutter speed selection was also manual and ranged from 1/30th of a second to the almost unbelievable 1/250th of a second.
I’m forever grateful for what that camera taught me. An understanding of what all that terminology physically meant.
I was so excited when I discovered there was a setting where you could lock shutter speed and aperture together, so that you could vary one and the other adjusted accordingly, so that you were letting in the same amount of light.
And speaking of light, you either took an educated guess or invested in a separate light meter.
Exciting too was the fact that you could take 36 photos before having to get the film processed and that you could get color! Positives (slides) only but they looked great on a slide projector.
A Lot of Cameras Since Then
From that humble start grew a love of photography that has led me through many camera upgrades and taking photographs all over the world.
One of the most significant was my first DSLR.
It was a Nikon D200. I bought it with an 18 -200 mm zoom lens and subsequently added a 10 – 24 mm wide angle lens and a high-quality fixed 35 mm lens, all connected to the auto focus system.
I still have it and still use it, though it really is time for an upgrade. I’m looking at either a Nikon D750 or a Canon EOS 7D. Both look to be great cameras and I’ll eventually review them, along with other cameras and accessories, in future articles.