A History Of My Cameras

I had always thought that an SLR was going to be expensive until a work colleague by the name of Tony Green pointed me in the direction of the Prakitca MTL5 camera. This was a budget camera, a bit more expensive than a Zenit but had some excellent features and a good lens all for less than £100.

I purchased a few extra lenses and then a flash and eventually it gave up the ghost. By that time Praktica had come out with a more advanced camera.

This was a different camera from the MTL5, apart from manual control of exposure you also had a program mode, aperture and shutter priority and a new bayonet connector of Praktica design. The previous model had a 42mm screw thread which was common on a lot of cameras but this new fitting was peculiar to this model and the original choice of lenses was quite low. I added a 500mm mirror lens to this and several other items and then got hold of a Jenaflex as a second body.

I was playing round with B&W photography at the time and wanted a second body so that I could switch between colour and mono whenever I wanted. This was a pretty much auto model but was still a good camera with really good build quality.

Autofocus cameras were becoming more popular by now and I had set my sights on replacing this even though a company had come out with an autofocus lens for the Praktica that had all the electronics built into the lens.

I sold all my Praktica equipment and bought a Yashica 230. This camera was really quite advanced and even had a feature that would allow you too manually focus on a point and would take a picture when something appeared in that point, Ideal for capturing a rally car at the top of a hill. The camera was really good and I hated it, all the fun had gone as the camera took over completely.

 At the same time that I had the Yashica I had also decided to have a go with a medium format camera and had picked up one of these little beauties. I just wish I still had it to be honest. The quality from the large negatives was amazing and it was a camera that you had to take time to use. You looked down at a large viewfinder in which the image was inverted so composing a picture took a bit of thinking.
And there was also this little beauty, the camera with a 50mm lens, a 300mm lens as seen in the picture, he shoulder stock and a gun metal case cost about £80. The camera had a light meter on the front that measured the light arriving at the camera and the lens had an aperture of F4.5 and was really good quality. The trigger operated the camera release and you did look a bit suspect when using it. I dare say in this day and age it may arouse a lot of suspicion if you were standing somewhere with one of these held up to your eye.

I eventually got rid of all of these and bought a cam corder as these seemed to be getting more an more popular. It never had the same appeal to me as did the still camera. Watching events you had recorded became boring and it was only when you got home that you realised how much you had used the zoom lens. Eventually I got rid of this and once more got hold a of another 35mm camera,

This time it was a Minolta, I don't actually remember a lot about this camera other that it was quite good at what it did. It just worked but had nothing that really inspired me or made me want to use it. It was shortly after this that I was introduced to the world of digital. I ended up with two cameras. One was a point and shoot HP camera with a resolution of about 1Mp and the other was a Fuji camera with a 2Mp resolution. Both good cameras that produced good results and got me back to enjoying taking pictures.

They both went their own way to be replaced by another digital camera, another Minolta, the Dimage Z1. 3.2Mp with a 10x optical zoom, this camera worked very well and was nice and light to use and gave me some really good pictures. The 10x zoom was particularly useful. But the search for higher resolutions was on for me and this got sold on and was replaces by another Fujifilm camera.

This had 4Mp and a 10x optical zoom and would if you wanted take pictures in RAW. It took some good pictures despite some poor reviews, it did take some time to turn on and wasn't the quickest at focusing but it worked.

We had been planning a safari holiday and I realised that the Fuji was not good enough, I came across the Panasoniz FZ50, 10Mp with a 12x optical zoom and it was a joy to use. I loved this camera and it took a battering. The zoom was manual, something Panasonic have stopped doing on their later cameras. The quality of the pictures was really quite good and the lens let plenty of light in. It was killed at a party when I took a picture at the same time a laser shone down the lens leaving burn marks on the sensor. I didn't know if I should get another one which would have been a second hand one or if I should get something with a better zoom as I was getting into bird watching by this time.

 I decided to go for the better zoom and went back to Fuji. This time an S4000 with a 30 x optical zoom and a 14Mp sensor. It should have been good but the pictures were awful, the processing made then look as if they had been painted and it only lasted a few months, I got rid of it and went for another Fuji camera.

This time it was a HS30 EXR with a 16Mp sensor and a 30x manual optical zoom. It's a good camera for the price and for what it does, it shoots in RAW and you need to ensure that any software you use to process the pictures recognises the EXR information. If not you end up with an 8Mp image with more noise. It took me some time to get the right settings for the best quality image on the camera, I had to set the sharpness and other settings to minimum to reduce the in camera processing. At full stretch the camera is a bit slow at focusing but has produced some good images. It's let down by  the aperture at full zoom, no bulb feature and if you take a 30 second exposure, you have to wait another 30 seconds before you can take another picture. No good for pictures of the sky with star trails. Using the camera alone, I have managed to get pictures of the Jupiter with it's moons. They are just points of light but it's still quite impressive. But it's not really doing the job for me. I've looked at replacing it with a HS50, this performs better and has a longer zoom range but I think it's time for me to go back into an SLR type camera. At the moment I'm looking at Canon, Nikon or Sony. Once I've decided, I'll update this page.

The decision was made, I went for Sony as they were based on the Minolta mount and there are plenty of lenses available.  The question was which one, I really fancied the A58 initially but some comments about the quality of the lens put me off. So I decided why not go second hand and after a bit of searching the one that came up was the A390. It's only downfall was a low speed when it came to continuous shooting. I picked up the camera with an 18 to 55mm lens, a 75 to 300mm lens and a 400mm lens for less than the cost of a brand new A58 and so far I'm delighted with the choice. In time I'll probably pick up a second body to go with the lenses and I need a better tripod and a 2x converter.

The A390 has worked well but it's started to show it's age. I've had to repair it once and now the
AF/MF switch has fallen off so it was time to get something else. I thought long and hard and decided to stay with Sony. This time I got an A55 which has a higher resolution, GPS but an electronic viewfinder as opposed to an optical one.

Still getting used to it but results are really quite good even at high ISO. It's lighter than the A390, battery life isn't as good due to the EVF and GPS but it's still quite good. I didn't realise how much I missed what an EVF can do, you can have a grid line on it to make things look level and there's a lot more information about the image available in the viewfinder.

Here's a sample image from the A55 taken at 1000 ISO

The bad news is that at a recent high tide event at the local wetlands, the A55 just died on me and locked up, looks like the shutter has had it. It was bought second hand and worked hard, this was the last picture it took.

Not the best picture in the world but to me the Heron seems to be saying "Go Back" to the oncoming waters.

So today (11th September 2018), I've taken delivery of a nice new Sony A77II. Put the battery on charge and now I have to go to work so no time for a play, some sample pictures will be up and coming shortly. It feels very solid and the AF tracking is supposed to be really good. Takes different batteries than the ones I already have of course but these look much higher capacity.

To compliment the A77 II, I've decided to get an E mount camera, I like having two bodies if out for a wander, the A77 II normally has my Tamron 150 to 600mm attached, while the A6000 has a Sony 18 to 105, I'll also use the standard lens and a Sony 70 to 300 lens with it. The A6000 works just as well as it's big brother and if anything the viewfinder is much better and of course it's a lot lighter.
Long term, I'm probably going to go over to the E mount range, really happy with the way it feels and the way it works and most of all with the picture quality.

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