Photography Updated…

Getting a Like notification for my blog’s photography page made me realise that it’s way out of date. I still have all the kit listed there, but it’s not currently in use.

I’ve stayed with the Olympus “Four Thirds” d-SLR system for its affordability and added to it a Canon bridge camera with a huge 50x zoom, my first new camera in years (I usually buy second-hand from ffordes, up near Inverness). For photos for my blog, or for Twitter, or to record the progress of my monster leg ulcer, I use a Canon Ixus 860 IS compact.

The d-SLR is an Olympus 10mp E-420:-


It’s flagged as an entry-level camera, but don’t let that put you off – no-one actually needs a camera with image-processing power on a par with a Kodak factory,** or the ability to photograph a black cat in an unlit coal cellar at midnight. Don’t forget you need only three basic controls to take a photograph – lens aperture, shutter speed, and focus, and that, until zooms became so ubiquitous (before that it was a matter of carrying a bunch of prime lenses), was all that cameras had for well over a century; anything else, like flash, came as a plug-in accessory.

**Except, perhaps, a photo-journalist working in a remote area with no access to a computer.

The first mass-market zoom lenses for 35mm SLRs, if memory serves, covered the range 70-210mm; I had a SLR body plus a 50mm standard lens and a 70-210mm zoom as part of my backpacking kit for years. Of course, the quality of the glass matters and that of the sensor and the imaging engine – reviews with a good spread of sample images are useful for checking image quality.

And then along came digital cameras, and manufacturers somehow felt obliged to toss in everything they could think of, including the kitchen sink. An entry-level d-SLR will lack many of those whistles and bells and be none the worse for it.

To go with the E-420 bodies (I have two – interchangeable lenses and digital sensors are not a happy combination – switching lenses lets in dust, two bodies with different lenses avoids this), I have a 14-42mm zoom lens as on the body above (double those numbers to get the 35mm equivalent):-


And a 70-300 zoom on the other body:-


Between them they cover a 35mm-equivalent range of 28 – 600mm, enough for most eventualities.

In addition I have a small Metz 24AF-1 Oly-dedicated flashgun:-


A Slik Able 300DX tripod:-


And a Konig Neckpod, all of which, plus an electronic remote shutter release, a card reader, tablet computer, batteries, CO2 dust blower, and a whole bunch of odds and sods, lives in or on a 7dayshop photographer’s backpack.

And for any image-processing I have a PC with a 2.9GHz Pentium processor and 8GB of memory, running 64-bit Photoshop Elements 8 on 64-bit Windows 7 Home Premium – not cutting edge but more than enough for my needs. I discovered long ago that what the computer industry says I need, and what actually works efficiently are two very different things.

And then we come to my superzoom Canon PowerShot SX50 HS bridge camera, with its huge 4.3 – 215mm lens (35mm equivalent 24 – 1200mm):-


I’ve not been able to play with it yet, as I’ve been too ill to get out, but I hope to remedy that soon.

To keep it company I have a Hahnel Triad 30 Lite Professional tripod, and while lightweight tripods have their drawbacks, the Canon, complete with battery, is actually lighter than the 70-300mm Zuiko lens alone:-



And a Canon Speedlite 270EX flashgun:-


Along with an electronic remote release.


Third-party versions are a lot cheaper, but I thought since it’s a new camera, it would be perverse not to have the genuine article.

And that lot lives in an Amazon Gadget Bag:-


Mine is blue, but they seem to do only grey now. The shoulder strap, by the way, is rubbish (or it was – maybe that’s changed too?). Luckily I have spares. Be aware that that this is the “Large” version which should be prefaced with the word “Optimistically”. It’s big enough for a body, a couple of lenses, a tablet (8” max), and a modest flash. If you like to carry everything you’ve got, just in case, look elsewhere. 

I carry, as well as the camera, a 7” tablet computer, card reader, lens brush, spare batteries (power-zooms are great consumers of batteries), USB leads and an electronic remote shutter release. NB: Using a tripod and not using a remote release (or a cable release if you’re still with film), defeats the object of the tripod.

I also have a basic camcorder, a Toshiba Camileo-X400RD with which I’d planned to video my cooking sessions, but found it would keep me on my feet for far too long so that idea has been abandoned, at least until my surgery is over and, of course, assuming it’s a success.

Mind you, looking at todays NHS news, I’ll be bloody lucky to get my op!


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