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Vele's Digital Photography Equipment

An inventory of my photo equipment

My Photo Background

Digital photography requires a completely different workflow than traditional film based photography. In the end the goals and the results are the same. The difference is merely in the tools. Current digital SLRs have for the most part matched and even surpassed 35mm film in overall quality and usefulness. I don't want to get into a film vs. digital debate, but after getting my Canon D-30 in early 2001 I still can't believe the overall quality of the images that I get compared to those of 35mm film. Film cameras still have certain advantages especially in medium and large format, but digital is catching up quickly. In the end, the same criteria, techniques and methods used to obtain beautiful photos apply equally to both digital and film based cameras.

My experience in photography dates back to 1987. Back then, I was using an old Minolta SLR range-finder with 50mm and 85mm lens, one of which I later broke while trying to be a genius and figure out the aperture mechanism. Film development opportunities in Prilep, Macedonia were difficult, so the do-it-yourself approach was very popular. However, much like in most communist countries, we suffered from supply issues: it was difficult to get B&W films, paper, chemicals and equipment. We had to make do with what was available. This hobby lasted for about 2 years because of multitude of reasons.

Eventually, somewhere in the mid-90s I got back to photography more as a household item to record events and trips. My primary equipment was an early-90s Olympus IS-1000 ZLR (zoom-lens-reflex). It's an SLR that has closed lens casing with 35-150mm f/4.5-5.6 zoom lens and no way to change it. It has all the manual capabilities, but they are not necessarily friendly to use. The camera is a very good beginners camera. It has a decent autofocus and evaluative metering system, as well as a small spot metering, with decent built-in flash. You can even make double-exposures with it.

Initially, my efforts were recording events. Occasionally, I'd try to take more pleasing photos of variety of subjects, from cityscapes, sunsets, landscapes, etc. I didn't spend too much time thinking about photography, mostly doing what people call "drive-by shooting". I never tried to take my photos seriously because there were usually several disappointments from the developed films and prints. Either pictures were too dark, too bright, colors were off, or the exposure was wrong. Because of the long feedback loop, I could never deal with the hassle of recording exposure and location info and then comparing this to the results. For me, there were too many variables in the whole film-based photography loop: exposure, light, location, film developing, print developing, re-prints, etc. Too many and too long until I see what I did right or wrong. Needless to say, I did mostly color negative prints.

In May 2000, I bought my first 3.3 megapixel digital camera, Casio QV-3000EX. My daughter Kalina was about to arrive to the world, so this was a great time for me to share my moments with my family who is all over the world. This is a wonderful point and shoot digital camera. It's not perfect, and I won't bother anyone with feature and side by side comparison. You can read about it here at Digital Photography Review . The camera gave me not only instant feedback, but a way to improve my skills. I could always look back at the exposure, light, time and location and learn how to improve my photography. The prints that I developed with this camera were also another big factor in pushing me towards digital.

Fast-forward to February 2001. At this point there were only a few pro and semi-pro digital SLRs on the market: Nikon D1, Fuji S1 and Canon D-30. I won't even count the digital SLRs from Kodak in this market since they are way over the $5000 mark. I had already played with a D-30 from my father, but I had never spent too much time on the photos. While I was debating the D-30 purchase as an intermediate step, I thought about getting a Canon film body as well. You know, for better quality, resolution, etc. However, all this changed after reading several reviews online from professional photographers who have used the D-30. Even after purchasing this camera I still can't believe the quality and detail in its images.

In mid-2002 and several months after Canon's release of their follow-on model to the successful D30. The new D60 is virtually identical except for a few under-the-hood improvements: 6-megapixel CMOS sensor, mildly better autofocus, and faster and better long exposure noise reduction algorhytms. The best thing about the D60 is the large resolution: it allows you to print large photos w/o any enlargements, and even crop areas w/o loosing resolution. I'm thoroughly happy with this new addition and can't wait to explore more landscape photos.