Posted by: John McGerr | June 21, 2009


Until 1984 my only experience with cameras came with the Kodak Pocket Instamatic. This was the family camera and was cheap and cheerful, but filled it’s role as a recorder of family moments and outings. It was a point and shoot affair. New film was easily put in as it came in a cartridge. Flash was either a cube with four, or a flat plate of six. What chnaged for me in 1984 was I bought my first ‘proper’ camera a 35mm Olympus Trip. It was my first introduction to the world of 35mm film and it took great photos. However it had only whetted my appetite and I wanted to get a camera with interchangeable lenses. I ended up buying a second hand Russian camera, a Zenith-E. For it I bought an 80-200 zoom lens and for several years I got great use from it. I experimented with ultra-high speed film that let me take photos of a stage show with no flash. As the camera was completely manual you had to concentrate on everything you did and I spent a small fortune on photography books that explained all the ins and outs of camera terminology and functions. Sadly the camera body began to leak light and many of my photos began to have a streak of light across them so I decided to purchase a new one. I took a step back towards the world of the Instamatic with my next purchase – a Pentax Espio 928. This came with a built in 28-90 zoom and had mostly automatic features. You could change modes to suit the type of photo you wanted to take but that was all. Again it served me well and is still operational. My only reason for discarding it was the jump into the world of digital photography. My first(and so far only) digital camera was a Minolta DImage 5. It came with a 7x optical zoom, the eqivalent of a 35-250mm zoom. It had a whole raft of features that could be controlled by the camera or the user. For starting out in the world of digital photography it had both good and bad points. Some of the good points were it’s range of options in terms of types of photography, control over settings, loads of room to explaore and experiment, so as you learned more you could do more without the expense of upgrading your camera. On the negative side it was limited to 3.2 megapixels(a limiitation you only appreciate when you see what the higher resolution offers). The Memory card was limited to 512mb – not really bad for the resolution though. A few years ago then I took the step in to the world of video camers by buying one myself. I bought a Sony HandyCam DCR TRV22-E. This handy camcorder became a constant companion on my travels, caught crystal clear video and was easy to use. It also had a pass through feature that let me easily digitise VHS tapes from my VCR to my PC.  One drawback I found to having both a camcorder and digital camera was having to swap between the two. Being honest this wasn’t a huge drawback, however I would often see people with handy pocket sized cameras and began to consider trading in the bulky Minolta for a smaller camera, with more pixel power. When I broke my camcorder I made the decision to investigate camcorders that took reasonable or even high quality photos. After some research I narrowed it down to one camcorder – the Sony HDR 12E a high definition camcorder with built in surround sound recording. Video can be captured to the built in harddrive(120 Gigabytes) or to a memory card. Also with photos. I opted to buy a memory card and store photos to it and keep the drive for video only. You can also take photos as you record video, which can lead to some interesting results. Although the photography purist might consider the idea of a photograph taking camcorder as akin to blasphemy, I find it great. I can use it for either, the unit is relatively light and takes great video(even when ‘downsized’ to standard resolution for transfer to dvd). I have given my Father my last two cameras, the Pentax and the Minolta. He’s taken a little time to get used to the digital setup and doesn’t have the computer knowledge to acess his photos, but he can take as many photos as he wants with one of the expense of film, his only limitations being the card size and battery life.



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  5. A little off the subject perhaps, but a request for people to consider the ethics of purchasing camcorders. Do try and think about, for example, the materials the product is made with, the human rights of the factories where they’re made and the ethics of retailers. Oh, and try to recycle instead of throwing away. Thanks!!!!


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