Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Time For a New Camera?

A more accurate question might be "Time for an additional camera?"

As anyone who knows me, knows that I like to take a lot of pictures.  A LOT.

I've been taking pictures since I received my first Kodak Brownie camera as a Christmas present in 1953.  Back then, like a lot of other people, we didn't have a lot of money.  I especially didn't have any money except what I earned on my paper route.  I delivered about eighty papers daily and twenty five on Sunday (the big ones.)  After I paid the "paper lady" for my papers, I had about $5.00 left over.  Usually when it came time to pay the paper lady I just made it because I had already spent my money on candy and comic books.  Oh yes, I was a typical pre-teen kid of the Fifties.

Well, when I got my camera I would occasionally take a roll of black and white film and drop it off at the Sam Charles newsstand in Downingtown, Pennsylvania.  The Charles newsstand was also conveniently the same location where I picked up my daily  supply of papers and bought my comic books.  The candy I bought at Zittles down the street.

Me with my cat Bobby about the time I got my first camera.  This may have been the first picture -1951 - I'm ten years old

Remember back in the black and white days when we put our film in the store?  We would have to wait at least a week until they "came back."  It was always exciting to see "what came out."  Oh how I wish I had spent less on comic books and candy and more on those glorious old black and white photos.

A picture I took of my two younger brothers John and Isaac.  I had an eye for composition even then - 1953

A picture I took of my Mom who cleaned the offices at Gindys (she was on break) - 1955

When I grew up I bought a Mamiya-Sekor SLR camera.  I had that camera for about twenty years.  Again I took many rolls of film, now color.  I also had a telephoto lens on my Mamiya-Sekor and took many wonderful focused pictures of individuals.  Unfortunately I dropped that camera one day on a concrete block which damaged the camera.

A picture I took with my Mamiya-Sekor camera of Bill and my nieces Christmas 1971

The cameras I bought to replace that camera were point and shoot camera.  No more focused head shots with the blurred background.  In recent years I have purchased several digital cameras.  I love the digital cameras because I can take thousands of pictures and see immediately what I have taken.  However, I am still missing those wonderful head shots of people that capture their personality.

Personalities captured on film -me and my co-worker Sue at FFB - 2006

Mark, a new friend who reads this blog, has sent me several pictures of his children that have that focused head shot with the blurred background.  I love those pictures.  I think Mark will the the catalyst that causes me to spring for one of those $500 SLR digital cameras.  I've just about taken all the point and shoot pictures that I want to of the scenes here in southern Delaware.  Now it is time for me to capture personalities.  Mark brought up a very good point about using a telephoto lens.  He says you can take a picture of a person without getting in their face.  Good point Mark.  As my friends here in Delaware know, I rarely  never go anywhere without my camera.  Now it looks like I'm going to be one of those photographers who intimidates everybody with a big camera hanging around my neck.

I do love taking pictures.  I love capturing "the moment in time."  I know that sometime in the future, after I'm long gone, someone will look at my pictures and appreciate this little mini legacy I have left behind.  I also want to write a book as a legacy but I can't seem to get started on that project. Pictures I can do.

So my friends when you see me now be sure to say (quoting Gloria Swanson in "Sunset Boulevard"), "Alright Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my closeup."

Norma Desmond ready for her close up - 1951 (the year I got my first camera)


  1. It's all about aperture. If you want to have the head in focus and the background beautifully blurry, then you need a lens with a wide aperture capability - f/2.8 at least, or even better f/1.8

    Those flower shots I took earlier in the year were done with an aperture setting of f/1.8

    Most telephoto lenses can't open that wide (unless you pay huge bucks). So I have 2 lenses for my DSLR - a fixed lens capable of the f/1.8, and a zoom lens for flexibility

  2. Let me know (privately, of course) what digital SLRs you're looking at. I ought to have waited and not invested so much time and money in the Nikon digital purchased in 2005. Nothing is easy and controls are not well developed in this model.

    That's why I followed you with a point 'n shoot Canon. But, like you, I want more control that I used to have with my Nikon film camera.

    I had a Mamiya that suffered the same fate. That's when I splurged on the Nikon F - best 35 mm camera in the world back then.

  3. Oh, and what's with the layers of clothing on you? When were these shots taken? Just sayin'...

  4. Ron,

    We were so alike. I had my little Brownie Box Camera back in those days. I got a Minolta at the Cherry hill mall in 1971, when we lived in the Towers across the street from the mall. I used that camera until I got my first digital camera in the 2000s.

    In the eighties I was shooting a lot of Photos for the United Way. I was walking through Wilmington between different charitable agencies and I was on a brick sidewalk. One of the bricks was loose and it slipped under my step and I nearly fell. My Minolta flew off my shoulder and smashed onto the sidewalk. WTC paid for the repairs, but it never worked well after that. Often I would get a black streak of varied widths down one side.


  5. Thank you Kim. This is very helpful information. With my Mamiya-Sekor I could manually set the focus. That's what I miss with my current camera. I've been reluctant to put out big bucks for another camera and not have the ability to set this kind of focus. This is good and timely information that you have given me which I will use. Thanks again.


  6. Lar,

    Isn't that amazing? We are SO ALIKE. Star crossed I would say. I didn't know you also dropped your camera. I loved that Mamiya-Sekor camera I had. It could do everything. I bought a Nikon after that but couldn't do the same things with it. Mainily, I needed the manual setting which I could never achieve with the Nikon. I still have it. I'm reluctant to put out a lot of money for another SLR and still not be able to focus the pictures the way I want to. I am doing just fine with my little Canon Power Shot camera. It would be nice to have a telephoto but I don't want to drag around a big camera. I'm still undecided.


  7. Wayne,

    Yes, I noticed the layers of clothing after I posted the blog. I took those pictures in March when the cold weather was upon us. I took my picture in the big mirror in the hallway.


  8. Ron,

    The Minolta could do a lot because everything was in my control: film speed, aperture setting and focus. Lo was never able to get onto all the dial and wheels so most of her photos taken were blurry or cut off people's heads, but I liked the flexibility. It also had a timer, so I could get in the picture.

    I always wanted, but never got, attachable lens other than the standard one that came with the camera. I always wanted a telephoto lens so I could shoot unobtrusively and also to take pictures of wildlife without scaring it off.


  9. Another option to consider, Ron, is a Bridge camera.

    These are very like DSLRs - there are auto settings, but you can override aperture, shutter speed, ISO etc, but you can't change the lenses.

    However, the lenses can go from supermacro (1cm away from the object) through to 14 or even 20x zoom.

    The 2 cameras I used before I got the Canon were Fujifilm bridge cameras. All the images shot for my exhibition and all the photos on my website between April 2009 and April 2010 were shot on a Fujifilm S100FS. It had a 12 megapixel sensor and a 14x optical zoom. Lovely camera. I still use it for macro shots as I don't have a macro lens for my Canon yet.

    So it gives you all the advantages of a point and shoot with the auto settings, plus the advantages of a DSLR with the manual overrides, but you don't have to worry about swapping lenses.

    Unless you're wanting to go Pro or semi-pro, then a camera such as this is ideal. Then, if further down the line you want to go for a full DSLR, then you'll have had the chance to re-familiarise yourself with manual settings again.

  10. Wayne,

    I'll let you know what camera I choose, if any. I was talking to a photographer this morning on Rehoboth Avenue. I liked his camera. It was a Nikon D300S. It seemed simple enough for me to use yet it had the manual settings that I wanted. I asked him how much he paid for it. He said $1,200! That is just a "tad" out of my price range. I'll do some more research but I won't be buying any cameras in that price range until I get my mortgage paid off. Hopefully, that might be next year.


  11. KIm,

    Thank you for the advice on a bridge camera. I had not heard of them before. It sounds like something I want. I don't want a professional camera. I only want to have some more options, specifically manual settings, than I have with my Canon Power Shot A560 digital camera now. The telephoto lens you described sounds like it would be sufficient for my needs. Thanks again.


  12. Lar,
    I also had a Minolta (still do) but it's not a digital. I want a digital camera now. I liked the Minolta but the Mamiya-Sekor was the best. I got it at Wanamakers many, many years ago. I paid $226 for it which I thought was an outrageous price at the time (I was only making about $80 a week.) I'm looking for a camera that wasn't too complicated but gives me some flexibility. I like what a telephoto lens can do but I don't know if I want to be carting a big, long lens around. I have a lot to take into consideration before taking the plunge.


  13. Ron, thanks for the kind words.
    I was just wondering, did you take that picture of Norma Desmond in 1951?
    Your Friend, m.

  14. My friend, I did not take that picture of Norma Desmond smart ass.

  15. Mark,

    Nope, Ron missed out on taking the Norma Desmond photo, but I understand he did do the stills for "Beyond the Rocks" when Gloria Swanson costarred with Rudolph Valentino.


    I paid around $300 for the Minolta back in the early '70s. That'd probably be equivalent to that $1200 camera in todays dollars. Extravagant youth.

    Like you, I want digital now and I'm just doing it for my own pleasure, so don't need an expensive camera.



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