What camera should I use today?

Anyone who is a fountain pen user (and I am one too) will know the issue. You have far more than you can sensibly use at once!! The only difference with cameras is that it doesn’t matter if you swap from one to another every day or week!

Except may be for film cameras, imagine having several cameras loaded up with different types of films and then trying to remember which one had what film in it. You could dedicate a Filofax to keeping track of all of your cameras!

In the last few weeks I’ve been cycling through my cameras as the mood has grabbed me.

I’ve loaded up my Canon EOS30 with a roll of HP5 black and white film, I really need to get a move on and finish off the roll, I have another unused roll in my bag to use as well. I’m a rather infrequent user of my film camera these days. The cost and the challenge I suppose.

On the digital front my EOS100D has seen quite a bit of use with the 28mm pancake lens. That with a simple wrist strap makes a great ‘guided tour camera’. We went on a local history tour last week, exploring the history of the railway in our town here in France. It was a big employer in the town once upon a time, not so much so these days sadly, although we do still have a passenger service.

Following the publication of this video about the Nikon D700, I used my Nikon D300 for a few days. Although I’m less familiar with that camera, I still do enjoy using it. It pushes the grey matter a bit to do so, but I love the results I get with the camera.

Please do watch that video even if you aren’t a Nikon shooter I’m sure you will appreciate the cameras a lot more.

I didn’t realise that Lucy and her partner were such big fans of Nikon cameras as well.

Do follow Lucy on Instagram and of course here on Substack, she is a great inspiration to me when I’m looking for new ideas of photos to take, to try and get myself away from photographing the same scenes all the time!

Then a few days ago this video was released

That made me dig out my old Canon EOS20D of similar vintage to the EOS5D. The 20D is quite a weighty beast a bit like the Nikon D300

Steven Heise did a great video review of the EOS 20D about a year ago:

His channel is excellent if you are looking at older DSLR cameras or even older mirrorless cameras.

Keep that lens cap off and keep taking photos.

Take care

Scan in those old slides

‘Slide shows’ are a little outdated in the modern era of sharing images on the internet. But in the days of analogue photography, a correctly exposed slide image is just about as good as it came.

I was recently looking for some old slides of my own taken in the 1970’s from the early days of my photography hobby. I didn’t find them. However I did discover a box of slides I had completely forgotten about from 1978 and some more from 1984/85.

I set up my flat bed scanner to be able to scan slides which it can do 4 slides at a time. After a bit of experimenting I managed to get it to do them unattended. Pop in the slides, hit scan and it would do a two pass scan and then save the individual images.

Seeing the images again for the first time in over 40 years has brought back a lot of happy memories. I’ve shared a few on line as well and been contacted by several old friends from back then as well. It has been a wonderful memory filled week.

Get out your old slides and live on the memories again.

A house I lived in Cyprus back in 1983. Some old cottages in Bebington. A new housing complex in Milton Keynes I lived in back in 1978. And me…..yes with significantly more hair than I have now, taken with my first car in about 1978.

A Chance Meeting

I have been on holiday in Slovenia and Austria these last couple of weeks.

One evening we were sat in a restaurant in Ljubljana at an outside table, whilst waiting for our food to arrive. I noticed several keen photographers passing the restaurant at intervals of a few minutes. Two or three passed us before I started to think this has to be an organised group of some sort. All of the cameras looked fairly serious, expensive newish model mirrorless or high end DSLRs or one sort or another.

They all looked keen, focused on looking for that must take scene or shot. ‘In the zone’ if you know what I mean.

I had enjoyed taking plenty of photos myself. I regretted not chatting with any of these photographers in Ljubljana.

Today we were on a tram here in Vienna and a young woman and her boyfriend (I presume) got on the tram with us. Both were carrying cameras, but I noticed they also both had film cameras on straps too. He had a Canon EOS300 and she had an Olympus OM2.

I had no clue what nationality they were, but I took a chance and in my native English. I just said

‘Excuse me, it’s nice to see that you are in to film photography as well as digital’

They both smiled and we got in to a great chat about photography for about 10-15 minutes before we arrived at our destinations and we went our own ways.

It turns out they were students on holiday from near Stuttgart in Germany, but their English was perfect. I speak no German at all!

We didn’t swap contact details, I wish I had now, but I didn’t want to appear to be too ‘weird’

It was great to just chat with some other photographers and have an exchange about our mutual interest.


Vienna tram

Next time you see a photographer, say hello!

Camera Bags

We all have obsessions, be it new cameras, old digi-cams, or other items we ‘just like’. Bags of one sort or another can become an obsession.

If you own more than one camera (and who doesn’t!) then I’m sure you have an equal number of camera bags to go with them…. or more!

Look after your camera bag, do the occasional maintenance on it and it will last for years, decades even!

I got back one of my first camera bags recently. I had passed it on to my son years ago, he stopped using it and had moved on to a Peak Design backpack of some type and my old camera bag sat collecting dust along with a Canon EOS600D he wasn’t using. He passed on to me the bag and the camera! Double Win!! (Centre bottom in the photo)

I had forgotten all about this bag, it was looking a little sorry for itself. But I emptied it out and went to work with a soft bush and the vacuum cleaner, then the soft bush and some upholstery cleaner and it came up looking quite respectable. Ready for another orbit of the globe!

Over the years I have moved to different brands of bags. I had a phase of using Lowepro bags and pouches in various sizes, I have quite a few of their bags. Some bought to be used as camera bags, a couple that I have used as a ‘man bag’ but occasionally as a travel bag or camera bag.

Camera bags make great general travel bags for your personal items, electronics etc. With a soft interior lining and dividers you can easily locate things inside your bag during your journey or at your destination. A quick scan of the bag lets you know if you have left something behind etc.

I still have and occasionally use a Lowepro Mini Trekker bag (Back left in the photo) from the late 1990’s. The only thing that has needed replacing is the elastics, which my wife did an excellent job of changing. It is a smallish backpack, but not too heavy when full and you are on your feet in a town or city for a number of hours. It fits in to most airline carry on limits too.

The different limits of different carriers is a major bug-bear of any traveller these days. There’s no one standard limit. There are size limits and weight limits.

That brings me to the largest camera bag in my collection! The Think Tank Photo Airport Commuter. (Back right in the photo) I bought this for our tour of USA and Canada in 2015, I was able to fit all my camera gear, laptop and iPad and all the cables and adaptors etc in to the one bag. Fully loaded though it was close to the carry on weight limit!

I’ve used this bag quite a bit on non-air flight trips, when going by car or train. It’s brilliant with a suitcase/holdall, I am fully prepared for anything. It can take a couple of camera bodies and a variety of lenses, a Macbook Pro plus a tablet and everything is stored neatly inside.

One of my favourite bags for photo walks is my Lowepro Orion AW (Top centre in the photo). It’s a two part bag, the main camera bag and also a rucksack add-on. I tend to just use the camera bag on its own. It will take a full size DSLR with battery grip and some extra gear as well. With the waist strap taking some of the load, it is not so bad on the shoulders. With the top hinging away from your body you can easily access the inside of the bag to do a quick lens swap.

Smaller bags also have their place in anyones collection. I have a couple of Lowepro Nova bags (Front left and right in the photo), they can take a camera, lens, spare lens and some batteries etc. They a compact, but still nicely padded inside to protect your gear and have a generous size shoulder strap.

Choosing a camera bag is a very personal thing, it will depend on how much you need to carry with you. I like having a range of sizes to choose from. I hate having a bag that is way too big. Having one that is the right size for what I’m carrying is just perfect.

What is your favourite camera bag? Please comment below.

Thank you once again for joining me.

Nikon Camera Settings

I’ve had the Nikon D300 since August 2021, it was a gift from a friend, the camera was her late husbands. Fortunately the camera came with the manual and three books dedicated to the D300. I was also given quite a few accessories and lenses too.

I’ve since added an additional lens the Nikon 10-20mm wide angle zoom to go with the 18-200mm I regularly use on the D300.

I was surprised how many accessories are still available for the D300 given how long it has been discontinued. Although I suspect the accessories are common to later cameras.

I bought a couple of new batteries as I didn’t know the history of the original ones that came with the camera.

Having got over the initial steep learning curve of discovering where all the settings where located on the camera. Manual in one hand camera in the other!

I enjoy using the camera, but I feel like I could get more out of the camera with some fine tuning of the settings.

Another dive in to the manual and books showed me that the Nikon D300 as well as other Nikon’s have a set of memories called ‘Shooting Banks’ and ‘Custom Setting Banks’ These let you set the camera up with different parameters for different types of shots and then you can easily change from one set of settings to another by just going from one ‘bank’ to another ‘bank’

None of my Canon cameras have this type of feature you have to change all the individual settings to your choices.

In the book: David Busch’s Nikon D300: Digital SLR Photography he has dedicated a long chapter on how to set up the memory banks with a set of suggested settings for the camera in different scenarios.

I will be going through this chapter in detail to optimise the settings on my camera. I think it will be time well spent.

Canon Powershot SX120is

We bought this camera in about 2010, it replaced a previous 2004 model of Canon Powershot camera (S60?) that had become faulty and it was sadly beyond economic repair.

My wife used the SX120is for a few years until she got an iPhone and then eventually the Canon was tucked away in a small camera case and forgotten about… that is until recently!

The SX120is boasts a 10MP CCD sensor, oh yes it has those three important letters on the spec sheet… I hadn’t realised it until I was researching the camera in more detail and that made me want to look in to it a bit more.

After all it’s a camera we already own, so no trawling Ebay or similar for other cameras that are increasing in price after been highlighted on a You Tube video somewhere 😉

The lens zoom range is quoted as being 36-360mm F2.8-F4.3, I tend to use it at the wide end and rarely use the zoom capability which is via the normal rocker control on the top of the camera surrounding the shutter release button.

The camera can shoot in Manual, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, and Program Modes. It has a glut of scene modes too, which I’ve never really attempted to get my head around. It does video but it’s not very impressive at 640×480 at 30f.p.s. not that video is of any interest to me!

The camera uses two AA batteries, whilst it recommends rechargeable NiMH batteries it seems to fail on low battery with those very quickly these days, so a setting internally needs recalibrating I suspect. I use it on normal batteries instead. A small CR1220 battery keeps the internal clock (date and time) alive.

Storage is via an SD card in the base of the camera where the batteries slot in. The camera only shoots in JPEG, sadly no RAW format in camera is available. The results are reasonably good though.

There is no viewfinder, but there is a 3 inch screen on the back, which is clear enough in most situations.

For more details on specs and reviews etc see DPReview.

And some sample photos taken recently with the camera without any editing. Just my usual countryside walk local to our house on a fairly grey overcast day in March. Yes the river is in full flood at the moment! But our house is a good 50 metres above the river.

One of the things I really like about this camera and this type of camera is how you can tuck it in a jacket pocket and have a camera with you can still take reasonable photos and you feel more involved in the process compared to using a smart phone camera.

#nobadcameras #ccdcameras #canon #digicam

‘Standard Lens’?

For many years the 50mm focal length has been considered to be the ‘standard focal length’ because it was considered to be similar to what our own eyes see.

If you examine this notion though, a lot of people challenge that ‘theory’. Recently I watched this video by James PopsysThe New Best Focal Length?

He is a landscape photographer who I’ve been following for a few years now. His photography has inspired me quite a bit.

He explains why 40mm might be closer to our own natural field of view.

For some years I’ve tended to use a zoom lens, but these can be quite bulky and heavy. The later is something you don’t want if you are travelling.

I recently bought a Canon EF-S 24mm f2.8 fixed focal length lens. Fitted to my APS-C cameras that results in an equivalent focal length of 38.4mm close to 40mm. This lens is very shallow and lightweight. The combined weight of the EOS100D body and lens is only 545 grams and as you can see it is very compact.

This camera set up will be perfect for a couple of short trips I’ve got planned in the coming months. Yes a fixed focal length will make me zoom with my feet a bit more, but for simple shots it will be perfect. I can carry an extra battery pack in my camera pouch ‘just in case’

Using a fixed focal length for me is like going back 30+ years in terms of photography. But a big advantage is the larger base aperture, so better shallow depth of field. Yes, framing a shot precisely isn’t as convenient but it’s not a major disadvantage.

What is your ‘Go to set up for travelling?’

I took the following photos on a bit of a grey and cloudy February day to test out this camera/lens combination on our typical local countryside walk. I will use this combination some more in the coming weeks.


Current Cameras

I still enjoy shooting film with my Canon EOS30, a camera I’ve owned from new. I find film enjoyable, but quite hard work to use compared to digital after about 20 years or so. Shooting film isn’t cheap though, but as an occasional indulgence it can be good for the soul.

I still occasionally like using my Canon EOS20D, low on MegaPixels, but nice and ‘chunky’, it has quite a bit of heft to it. No video, but as you will discover that doesn’t concern me. I bought this new back in 2004, I use it with the battery grip. I initialy used it constantly for about 10 years.

In 2015 I needed something a bit more compact and lighter for a trip to USA and Canada, it was a holiday of a lifetime at the time. I bought a Canon EOS100D it is tiny compared to the 20D, but it fits the bill for me.  Yes it does video, but I’ve only ever used it less than five times for video.

In 2021 I inherited a Nikon 300D camera and glass. It was a bit of a culture shock, having never used a Nikon DSLR before. Fortunately as well as the Nikon manual I was also given three other books devoted to the D300. I spent quite a bit of time ‘learning’ the system and the differences to my Canon ‘roots’. I would say I’m still learning, but I’m enjoying the process and the differences. In a way the D300 re-kindled my interest in photography.

Looking for videos about the D300 I discovered ‘One Month Two Cameras’ and Lucy’s Analogue Adventures… so good things come from older cameras!

More recently at Christmas 2022, my son (who inherited my interest in photography) passed on his ‘no longer used’ Canon EOS600D, after giving it some TLC and recharging the batteries etc. it has become my ‘go to camera’ most of the time. It falls between the 20D and 100D in terms of size and weight, may be a little bit lighter than the D300. It does the job. Being ‘another Canon’ the transition was quite quick in terms of getting it set up and adapting to using it.

I nearly forgot! Tucked in my messenger bag is a Canon Powershot SX120is, it nearly qualifies as a digicam, again there are some limitations with it, no viewfinder being one of them. But again fun to use compared to just using my iPhone!

What of the future? I really don’t know… but for now I’m enjoying the ones I have. Remember there are #nobadcameras

Until next time, it’s time to take off that lens cap and take some pictures.

Photography on a budget

If photography is only a hobby, which it is in my case. I’m sure you will agree that photography has never been considered an inexpensive hobby. Well it can be with some investment and time.

As an amateur photographer I always have this desire for better higher specification cameras that are either way beyond my budget or they would be difficult to justify spending that much on a new camera or a better lens.

I always stall at the question. ‘Would a Xxxxxx model yyy help me produce better photographs compared to the cameras I already own and use?’

I have partially answered this question by watching videos from a few YouTubers such as

There are plenty of others as well, just do a search on your own make/model of camera and find some for yourself.

I discovered a lot of people using much older digital cameras and reusing film cameras with great results.

In the past we just had ‘a camera’ it might have been a 35mm SLR or a compact 35mm camera or may be a larger format 120 roll film camera.

With digital cameras with their different resolutions, and the differences between DSLR or Mirrorless designs. You will hear recommendations from reviewers about the suitability of cameras for ‘Sports and Wildlife’ ‘Landscape’ ‘Street photography’ etc etc. Are these divisions really needed?

Going back to older designs my own Canon EOS20D is all of 8.3 MP, but it can still take very acceptable photographs.

Consider what you are going to use your photographs for, will a higher resolution camera improve your photos if they are mainly going on social media? Also those higher resolution cameras produce much bigger files that require storage and will take longer to upload.

Newer cameras can have improved low light performance or lower noise at higher ISO speeds, but if most of your photos are taken in good lighting conditions, will you notice the difference?

If you are a film photographer, you will be very aware of the cost of film and film processing. Many years ago I was very fortunate to have access to a full darkroom. I also had one set up in my own apartment. I never ventured beyond processing and printing black and white film.

Processing and printing or scanning your own film once you have mastered the skills can help you save money on your photography hobby.

I also used to buy film in bulk (100 metres) and using a bulk film loader I loaded my own 35mm film cassettes. Once you have mastered the skill of loading the cassettes you will start saving money on film costs even if you still get a lab to process the exposed films.

If you are shooting professionally, may be you are a wedding photographer or you are doing other paid for commercial work then your requirements will be different to those of the average or slightly above average amateur photographer. Being paid to do your hobby, something you enjoy doing can be very rewarding. That said I’ve heard people that enjoy photography without repayments and contracts involved. I once did a set of wedding photos for a friend of mine, it was quite stressful. You don’t get a second chance!

How do you keep your photography hobby from breaking the bank? Do you have any tips you would like to share in the comments.

Thank you for joining me this week. Remember there are #nobadcameras

Film Photography with a Digital Camera

Film photography has got expensive in recent months. The supply of film is struggling to meet the demands of photographers. If you can find a supply then the cost of rolls of film can be quite high.

A few years ago I came across an idea of how to shoot like film, but with a digital camera. Looking back on this now I think it’s a great exercise/project to try out. I’ve added in some of my own ideas too.

Firstly, you don’t need the newest and best digital camera out there. You can use one you have put away in the cupboard, one you have may be replaced, but you are hanging on to the old one for what ever reason.

Also find a small memory card, ones you now consider too small to use, or may be one that came with the camera. If it can only hold 36-40 images then that is perfect for this project. The higher resolution you use, or may be set your camera to RAW, then of course that reduces the number of images you can take.

Like a film camera you might not take all of the images in one session, it’s ok to put it to one side in between shooting.

Here are the basic rules:

  1. Select a fixed ISO setting (film speed).
  2. Turn off image preview after taking a photo.
  3. Decide on what you wish to also restrict in terms of aids depending on the camera. (Autofocus, metering and exposure control etc).
  4. Do not download your images until you have taken at least 36 images and delay downloading them for 2-3 days after taking the last image.
  5. Try to resist the temptation of editing the downloaded images.

Enjoy the project, get to know your old gear again if you haven’t used it for a few years. Learn to cope with limitations. Use the project to improve your own creativeness and composition, because you can’t ‘fix it in post’

Repeat the exercise as often as you wish…. after all it’s not costing you anything.

I got this idea or the basics of the idea from another photographer, I suspect they saw it elsewhere too. Share the idea on your own Substack, YouTube or where ever.

Time to get shooting, remember #therearenobadcameras

Taken with a Canon 20D – 8MP from 2004!