Saturday, October 5, 2019

Ancient Photographic History

I found a picture of an example of the very first SLR camera I ever owned, a Canon 7, which I bought second-hand about 1984.

It had a very slow and insensitive lithium light meter, which did have the advantage of requiring no external power source — so, no batteries.

It was a pre-hotshoe era camera, but that didn't matter to me since I couldn't afford a flash back then in any case. The flash would have been mounted on a side-handle, with a cable running to a socket in the side of the lens so that it was tripped along with the shutter.

As I recall, the camera had a slight light leak in one corner of the case. That would probably have been taken care of with a camera cover, but I never had one for this camera.

I did eventually get a cheap (and rather unreliable) flash for it, but I didn't have a lot of success with it.





The camera that replaced the Canon was a Pentax MX, and a little later, also a Pentax ME.

They were both great cameras, the MX being fully manual in operation, and the ME being an aperture-priority semi-automatic camera.

Each had its advantages, the ME being handier for spontaneous shooting, but the MX being more fully controllable.




My next camera was a Nikon F3, which I could afford (still second-hand) because I'd got a job working in the Display Department of the Canterbury Museum.

I ended up with quite a substantial camera kit based around this fantastic camera:
a couple of bodies, a bunch of lenses, some flashes, filter sets, a high-speed motor-winder....

but all of that was stolen by burglars. That didn't make me happy, I can tell you.





The last of my 35mm SLR film cameras (bought with the insurance payout for my F3 cameras of lamented memory) was this one, the Nikon F-801, my first experience of auto-focus and TTL (Through The Lens) flash metering and things like that. The autofocus was quite slow and clunky by modern standards, but it seemed quite miraculous to me then.

I still own this camera, and a Nikon SB-26 Speedlight flash to go with it, but both of them are quite obsolete now and I haven't used them for decades. The SB-26, it turns out, is exactly the model of Speedlight that works with almost no modern cameras at all, unlike the SB-25 or SB-27. That sucks.

In fact, I saw this exact model of camera on a website about vintage cameras, which made me feel very old and tired.




As well as 35mm film, I also did some photography in medium format (60x70mm) film using very large and heavy Mamiya cameras. I do still have a Mamiya TLR bellows camera, but like the 35mm camera I haven't used it in many, many years.

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