The End Of The Beginning

Carlisle LightningBlogs are like busses it seems. You wait an eon for one to come along then BOOM, BOOM, BOOM three in a row.

It is over 30 years since I started my first attempt at a photographic business. Armed with an Olympus OM1n and a few rolls of Kodak Colour Gold I ventured to my first wedding and my first success.

A huge investment in gear from flash guns to colour enlargers and developing tanks along with the cost of chemicals and paper made it a very expensive hobby especially as processes had to be so exact for temperature and cleanliness etc.

It was a total amateur affair, done just for the enjoyment of being a photographer and creating an image for others to see.

Life though has it’s ups and downs. Marriage, children, jobs, houses and available space all take a precedence and so the business, and my interest in photography, waned and died as other things came to the fore.

IMG_3021In that time I would often get the old Olympus kit out and ‘make a go of it’ but the bug had gone, flown away. Waiting for a film to be processed and then the disappointment of bland, yet accurate, prints was too much. I missed being able to dodge and burn a print, to play with the colour and to make a shot ‘pop’

And again the gear would return to the bottom of the wardrobe for another 5 or 6 years.

Meanwhile a revolution was taking place. Kodak had developed a digital, all electronic camera…..and then panicked and realised that it was a threat to their film business. Others weren’t so hesitant. Soon Kodak were no more, at least in their original form. Film was dead. The digital revolution was firmly here.

Now I’d owned a few POC or ‘point & click’ digital cameras. They were great to take on holiday, great for a snap shot. Then of course I got my first smart phone, almost a proper camera on which you can also talk with your friends too. Then a better smart phone as the Face Book revolution came along and those photos could be published to the world, instantly. Amazing!

IMG_2464I then decided that after 7 years of commanding an RAF Cadet Squadron I needed a new challenge and talked to my Wing Commander about a Wing post as the Public Relations Officer for Cumbria & Lancashire Wing.

Obviously I needed a camera to record the events but really didn’t want another cheap POC. I wanted a decent DSLR where I could at least do a reasonable job.

Now I know my F-Stops from my ISOs, my telephotos from my depth of field but I didn’t have a clue about what was on the market and why. I had owned a Nikon snapper which I had been unimpressed with and so I decided that I would look down the Canon route. That simple.

Flowers-Carlisle-City centre 1 smallI was not going to spend a fortune and so the little EOS 1200D dual lens kit was advised. I was really impressed when I got it home and opened the box and started playing.

No more running out of shots after 36 exposures, no more fixed film speed until the next roll is loaded, auto EVERYTHING especially focus and instant results. I could even alter much of the colour design in camera. Awesome!

I took it to my first event, the Wing athletics event in Preston. Photography had never been so easy, or so it seemed. It even has a 3fps auto wind built in (it cost me a fortune, more than the current price of this camera & lenses, for an auto wind for the Olympus back in the 80s).

IMG_2530-2Second excursion was the Sunderland air show. Again a really enjoyable experience. Playing with photoshop was the next move and some great images were created. Life was good.

It has it’s limitations. The buffer fills too quickly when shooting RAW and large JPEGs and the lack of WiFi means transferring to a smartphone or tablet is a pain. But, it’s still great.

That was until I started reading reviews and watching YouTube videos about it. ‘entry level’, ‘short on features’, ‘bottom of the range’, ‘kit lens problems’…and the list went on. I felt down. I then started comparing some of the shots I’d got to those from my ‘real’ cameras in the past, really favourable, then I used other cameras from much higher in the ‘professional’ range. Again it stacked up REALLY well.

I bought a couple of excellent lenses including my favourite 85mm prime. Yes there was a jump in quality but reading the reviews it should have been the difference between sitting in the dark and walking out into the sunlight, and it was not, not at all. The standard lenses were inexpensive but perfectly good for 95% of peoples needs and far better than most people would need. And that’s the point, it’s the person taking the photos who makes the difference. Reviews certainly do not tell the real truth.

untitled-4842I hankered for a better camera though. Reviews can do this to you and so I decided that I ‘needed’ my EOS 1D unfortunately as big and heavy as it is magnificent as a camera.

But I also needed a cropped format camera. I like cropped format. Don’t believe the reviews, cropped sensor cameras CAN & DO take excellent photos with good dynamic range and the ability to create very large prints.

The bug had bitten again and in a very big way I was now photographing pets and making money again and so a good camera is a necessary tool for the job. I’m now running a business which has expanded and is additionally doing corporate and school photography.

AIR-2488The 1200DE had to go. I wanted faster frame rate, WiFi, better auto focus etc. And so an EOS 70D came into my life and I handed on the 1200d to it’s new owner with a small tear in my eye.

The trouble is I am missing it. It was my first port of call if I wanted to go on a shoot. Yes, for the athletics now the 10fps of the 1D is the choice, of course it is (and I spend many hours picking the one needed shot from the thousands I take especially as the buffer just does not fill up).

cropped-bjp-36351.jpgIt was light, easy, quick and a joy to use. I loved it.

I looked at the first set of shots taken by it’s new owner today. I loved them. Vibrant, sharp, colour balanced and obviously easy to use. Yes, he had not quite mastered the auto focus zone settings yet but it was not a big issue, the shots were great and could only get better with use.

I have taken photos of almost everything with the 1200D and never been disappointed. It’s been around the country many times with me and never let me down, although I may have let myself down a few times.

Header4So goodbye to the catalyst for my new business. It really is the end of the beginning but not the beginning of the end.

Would I recommend one? Yes, without hesitation. BUY ONE NOW!!

All of these shots were taken with that 1200D and all except the monochrome shot of the fraitry at Carlisle Cathedral shot on the kit lenses.




2 comments on “The End Of The Beginning

  1. Nice blog Brian. It’s interesting what you said about equipment. I also ‘got back ‘ into photography in much the same way you did. When I felt DSLRs were good enough (cause the early ones were fairly dire and very expensive); Anyway I bought a Nikon D200 and gradually collected some very expensive (and really nice ) glassware for it. But realised before long that actually using it was a pain. If I wanted to go out and take pictures I practically had to put the seats down in the car to get the gear in. I stopped bothering, it was too much effort. The fun was gone. Time to reevaluate. I still love taking pictures. I absolutely love how digital photography makes it so easy to be creative and its practically free. How I wish that technology had been available when I was in my teens and loved photography but couldn’t afford to do what I wanted. I love sharing it too on social media. Anyway thanks to the quality of today’s smartphone and editing apps its a doddle. But I want more. I love street photography. I love photographing people when they don’t know it (stalking) I need decent zoom for that. Anyway to finish my tale, I sold all my kit ages ago. Now I use a Canon SX 60 which fulfills my stalking needs perfectly. No its not a DSLR and nor is it perfect but it comes damn close. Its the size of an entry DSLR and I can chuck it in a bag and its there for holidays or just whenever I want it. It does it all, and with WiFi I can ping the images to my phone and share them in seconds. Now I love photography again! Also I agree 100% that sometimes you want accurate images but often you want to be creative. I willingly admit to over processing and using effects photo shopping etc. It makes it art and it makes it fun. I LOVE digital photography!


    • Thanks Chris, very kind words. Interesting that you say your SX60 is not perfect but it fulfils your needs perfectly. I’ve decided that no equipment be it photography, musical or anything else is perfect. I also have a Canon 1D which was at the time the top of the range and absolutely stupid money (I bought mine, very sensibly, second hand), it has amazing quality and speed but my god is it big and heavy…..and now very out dated (no WiFi, 10Mp, 1.3 crop factor etc.)

      If your SX60 works for you the way you want it too then it IS the best camera. Personally I think it is a great piece of kit and I’d fancy one myself.


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