The first digital camera I can remember using was a little Kodak point-and-shoot. Here’s a picture I took in November 1998, hiking the Grand Canyon with my wife and some friends.
I probably took it on that trip because it was light and I didn’t want to risk damaging my film SLR. I don’t remember for sure, but I think that little camera cost several hundred dollars. It didn’t encourage me to expect much from digital in the future.
2001: Olympus C3000
|Great Wall of China at Badaling, April 2001. Taken with Olympus C3000; slightly reprocessed in 2014 with PhotoNinja.|
2005: Canon PowerShot S1IS
|Bandera, Texas, September 2005. Taken with Canon PowerShot S1IS and lightly processed in PhotoNinja.|
|Snow geese coming down for night at Holla Bend National Wildlife Refuge in Arkansas. Taken with Canon S1IS.|
At a wedding in 2013, for the first time, I shot some video of the ceremony, not to capture the look of the ceremony, but in order to record what was said.
2008: On to a DSLR with the Pentax K10
In 2008, I decided that it was time to “graduate” to a proper digital SLR.
Olympus had something to do with pushing me over the edge here. I was taking personal photos at the Dallas Arboretum when a fellow asked me if I’d take a photo of him and his girlfriend. He had an Olympus dSLR, the four-thirds E-520. After composing and shooting for years with the S1IS’s rear display, which was low-res digital, the experience of looking through the Olympus dSLR’s excellent optical viewfinder was nothing short of a revelation. I remember saying to myself, Wow! Immediately I sensed what I’d been missing from my film SLR days. In addition, shooting with my eye to the viewfinder seemed so much more direct than shooting with the camera held at arm’s length. It truly was a conversion experience.
But although I was about to reject the S1IS, Canon also had a major influence on my choice of dSLR. The image stabilization in the S1IS had persuaded me that in-body image stabilization was a must-have feature. I never considered either Canon and Nikon dSLR bodies because they did not (and still do not) have image stabilization. I didn’t look seriously at Olympus, either, although I don’t remember why not.
Instead, I went with Pentax, buying a K100D. I knew of Pentax’s great contributions to history of SLR photography. The fact that the Pentax K100D was one of the most affordable cameras on the market at the time was also a factor. I didn’t take many photos with the K100D but one of them happens to be one of my personal favorites out of all the photos I’ve taken.
|Abby Running, taken February 2, 2007, with Pentax K10D.|
The K100D was soon replaced by the K10D, which at that time was Pentax’s top-of-the-line pro camera. I used the K10D for the next couple of years, to take vacation pictures:
I took thousands and thousands of mostly very bad photos of school sports like basketball and volleyball:
|I like this photo — although to get this view of the bored swimmers waiting their turns, I had to shoot over a most unattractive, overflowing trash can.|
Great photographer Edward Steichen said that “No photographer is as good as even the simplest camera.” I became a better photographer using the K10D and I’ve continued to get better as I’ve moved on to better and better cameras. But I have to confess that Steichen was right: I never came close to being as good as the K10D.
2008: After the K10D
That Pentax K10D was eventually succeeded by a Pentax K20D. Both were excellent bodies. Fashion photographer Benjamin Kanarek had left Canon for Pentax (for a while) because of the K20D. Pentax was also an excellent choice because the Pentax lenses were outstanding. Unlike Canon and Nikon, Pentax didn’t really make a clear distinction between its consumer dSLR systems (mediocre but cheap) and its pro line (high quality but very pricey). Instead, Pentax had only a couple models for sale and basically one lens line, in which practically everything was very good.
Of course, eventually I moved from Pentax to Sony APS-C and then to Sony full-frame (A99), and most recently, I moved again from Sony full-frame to Olympus micro four thirds. But that’s another story for another blog article.