I chanced upon a topic in a photography forum wherein a guy shared his take on building the perfect camera system. This prompted me to look back on my gear line-up and how I came across it. I always believe that the best system is the one that serves your photography needs and doesn't necessarily mean being limited to the f2.8s or the Ls (for Canonites like me).
Anyway, I thought it would be interesting if I share a history of the camera gears I used and how I went about having the "perfect system"...
I don't have plans to go into a debate whether what I shared is accurate or not as these are all based on my personal experience.
I am proud to say that I went through the process of shooting with film prior engaging in digital. My interest in photography actually started with a love for gears; photos being secondary. Being an avid outdoor enthusiast, I loved outdoor gears as much as going outdoors. Same goes for my passion in photography.
On a rafting trip I organized last January 2003, I already have interest in pro cameras but always thought of it as a sophisticated and "soft" hobby. What caught my attention during that trip was the Lowepro bag our photographer was using. I thought it was a knock off of Lowe Alpine but was surprised to find out that it is a brand on its own and is actually ideal for the outdoors. The lure of being an outdoor photographer was just something I cannot resist.
A month later during Photoworld Manila, I took the plunge...
|Photo from Pentax Forum|
Film Gear List
- a fully manual camera with auto exposure
- it was a dream to hold as a first time user but as I got to know it better, it was just too crippled of a camera
- the everyday lens...it's cheap but build quality is not that bad...only let down is the plastic mount
- stupid enough, I bought the tele zoom first as I got sold on the longer reach of the lens
- same comment as with the former lens in terms of built quality.
- I got myself a cheapo flash and tripod which brands I cannot remember and a Lowepro beltpack similar to the current Outback 100 albeit smaller and cheaper.
I was able to use this on a trip to Baguio, hike of Mt. Ugu and covering an event in Cebu. I wasn't able to get any spectacular photos with it but this was what got me started in serious photography.
First Digital Gear List
Canon EOS 300D
|Photo from Canon UK|
- a few days after it was introduced in the market, I immediately got myself a unit...even applying under time just to secure the unit reserved for me.
- auto focus, spot metering (albeit 10 deg), DIGITAL...I was in photography heaven!
- as I progressed, I was feeling the limitations of my Canon EOS 300D so I invested in a pro body despite it being a film camera
- it was a bad decision as not only did I get spoiled by it's pro features/ built...I only shot 2 rolls of film with it!
|Stopped down the kit lens can deliver surprising results.|
- first time I looked into the viewfinder of my 300D "WOW" was just the word as I now have a true wide angle lens!
- as with my 300D, it was the perfect lens until I found out about those damn L lenses
- this kit lens is now at it's 4th version and is now dubbed Canon EF-S 18-55 f3.5-5.6 IS II...other than the IS, built has been improved so if you think you have it bad, think of the version we got before!
- lusting for L lenses and being limited by my kit lens, I invested on this cheaper alternative
- first thing I noticed was the much better built compared to the kit lens but that creaking sound it make as it focuses was just irritating.
- was it better than the kit lens? My answer to this is yes it is better...at f2.8 and in the range of 56-70.
- everyone says this is a must have so I got one without any idea how to use it as it was dirt cheap (selling for only PHP 3,500 then)
- it was a great lens for product shots and has a matter of fact served me well as my first commercial shoots were done using this lens.
|Macro feature of the Sigma ain't that bad.|
- I was hoping to buy the Canon EF 70-200 4L but a lack of budget made me buy this lens instead...not to mention it sports a red ring just like an L lens! ;)
- it opened my eyes to the photo opportunities of a long telephoto lens and IQ is very good but the length the length the lens barrel extends make this quite a challenge to use on a tripod.
- manual flash for a fully automatic camera...well, at least it was an improvement compared to the flash I bought for my Pentax system
- it has no TTL and is very much limited to Automatic when used with cameras right now so you can pretty much cross out this model in your "to buy" list
- it has resurfaced though with the growing interest of strobist lighting
- I just have to add that the old school adjustment settings/ knob of this flash is so cool to use!
- One investment I got right was a sturdy tripod and head combo with the Manfrotto 055 Pro B and Manfrotto 486 RC2. This set-up served me well for 6 years and I only sold it as the weight has caught up with me.
- I invested as well on a bigger and sturdier topload zoom bag with the Lowepro Toploader 70 AW which I'm using until today. I got as well a Lowepro Mini Trekker to house my 2 Canon bodies and multiple lenses but the harness system was just not right for my lean frame. It caused quite a strain on my shoulder during a trip to Japan thus off it goes to the FS section after one use.
I am both proud and regretful in being there when digital photography went mainstream. Proud that I learned photography the old school way and cherished more the small stuff like auto focus, spot metering and seeing my photos right after I press the shutter. My regret?
It's not really me spending my money on those stuff I never got to use. It's me paying P5,000 for a freaking 512MB card which brand is not even the best! ;)
Preview to Part 2
Given all the so-called "limitations" (or excuse to upgrade) of my camera, I decided to sell my whole system and upgrade it. I was eyeing a Canon EOS 10D but there was just something wrong with it's ergonomics. Then came the call from the "dark side"...