Since my earliest memories, Mum was always behind a camera. From a young age I would play with her Kodak Brownie Starlet. She gave me my first camera – an Agfa X-126 Instamatic (1976), when I was nine. From my first school trip to Glenora using that camera, I was hooked.
I studied photography as part of art class from grade 8 and into college mostly using the school’s Pentax 35mm SLR’s. As soon as I could afford a decent camera, I bought a Yashica FX-D (1984) film SLR which later got stolen from my car. Disheartened, I let photography slide for some twenty years. The interest never really waned and I purchased a 3.2MP Canon Powershot A300 (2004) when digital cameras reached a usable resolution.
I also purchased a used Kodak DC40 from The Mercury (where I worked) – one of the first consumer built digital cameras.
It was in my spare time at The Mercury that I taught myself Photoshop. I use “CS6 Extended” still – the last version you could purchase outright.
With the interest re-sparked, I read Nikon had the best glass so saved for a 6MP Nikon D40 (2008) with two kit lenses – in it’s day a smallish, light weight entry level DSLR with limited features. Good for bush-walking, I shot RAW fully manual for years. Next came the D3200 (2012), again, bang for buck and small – and of course, various smart phones.
Then came the drones, where I used an iLook+ then a Xiaomi Yi for still and video, I researched and found the Sony RX100 III (2015) as the smallest, lightest, RAW capable camera and bought one second hand. Mounting on a drone didn’t work out due to budget constraints but I loved this camera, the 8 kg of Nikon gear was put aside and the RX100 literally lived with me! The only thing I missed was an extended zoom.
In 2015 I completed a Photography and Social Media course at Tas University.
February 2019 I rafted the Franklin River and after much research, I bought the newly launched GoPro Hero 7 especially for the trip.
Circumstances changed, finances improved and I began contemplating another upgrade. As I loved the Sony, I was considering a move to the full frame A7 or A6000, when I met someone through Flickr who shot with Olympus. I was very impressed with his images, we became good friends and after a play with his gear, it didn’t take much convincing to invest in the Olympus ecosystem.
While I saved and waited for the long anticipated EM5 III release, I gave in to a great discount on a new OM-D E-M5 II and M.Zuiko 14-150mm lens (May 2019).
I quickly came to love the Olympus micro 3/4 system, it’s compact light weight, exceptional build quality, ergonomics and handling, plus the weather-sealed gear lends itself well to my off track adventures and shooting style. With Olympus’ unique features was simply awesome! It felt more like a scientific instrument in my hands than just a camera.
After the EM5 III release 5 months later, I weighed up the specs and decided to upgrade to a low shutter count, second hand EM1 II. I patiently kept an eye out and eventually scored a studio used, mint condition bargain! (November 2019).
Comparing them, I prefer the tactile feel of the metal wheels, faux leather and handling of the smaller, lighter EM5 II, the quality of hardware and images is exceptional. To me the 1 II feels more plastic and rubber.
Where I would mostly carry the 5 by the lens while walking, the 1’s bigger grip makes the heavier body easier to carry. It has more programmable buttons, faster focus and tracking, a larger 20MP sensor, longer battery life and a few other features that for me, made the upgrade with extra size/weight worthwhile and I’ve grown to love it!
This is the first “Professional” level camera I’ve ever owned, the stuff of dreams! It’s not new, it’s not the latest or perhaps the best for everyone, but I believe it’s the best bang for buck and the best camera system for my needs and I don’t see myself upgrading again for some time … though I soon started considering lenses.
In January 2020, I purchased a mint secondhand 12-40mm F2.8 Pro lens.
In February 2020, I purchased a hardly used 60mm f/2.8 Macro lens, and a few months later a wide angle Laowa 7.5mm with manual focus. Two cheap sets of Pixco 10 + 16mm extension tubes were added to increase the 60mm macro capability. My go-to lens is still the 14-150mm for it’s versatility.
I’ve also purchased a used Manfrotto Be-Free tripod and found a used Olympus FL36 flash and remote flash triggers at my local resource tip-shop! The two filters I have are “Circular Polarising” and “Variable Neutral Density” (VND) – almost any other filter effect can be done in post processing with Photoshop.
It’s well worth being patient and hunt around sites like eBay and Gumtree.
Despite the passion, my photography gear has always been on a modest budget and I’ve enjoyed the challenges of working within their limits. It’s held me back a little at times, taught me LOTS, often forced me to be inventive, adapt to various situations and fully appreciate the gear I have now! However, the recent upgrades doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll take better photos but I’ll enjoy giving it my best shot, with far fewer limitations, whenever I find the time!
I love getting lost in my “photo head”, to drift away and see the world differently in composition and light, often ending up in places and seeing things I would never have expected. It makes life way more interesting, all inspired by my late Mum, who captured many fond memories that I can still look back on, thanks to her.
Happy snapping – Tone.
For more info and tips about my current gear see THIS POST.
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