The first time I laid my hands on a camera, which I could call my own, was sometime in 1979. I was 12 years old then. It was a Minolta Pocket Autopak 450 E, a gift from my Mother on her way back from a trip to England. Prior to that, I had held, peeped through, and occasionally used few other cameras belonging to my father and uncle, but never something which could have been my sole possession. I simply cannot describe the joy of owning and using my precious possession at that time. Using the mini Minolta was my first tiny step into the vast world of photography.
I outgrew the mini Minolta a couple of years later and started borrowing my Mother’s Pentax MV1 35mm Manual focus camera for my photography needs. With this camera, I began to learn the basics of Composition, Aperture, Shutter Speed, Film Type and Film Speed. I used the Pentax MV1 for many years then on, so much so, that I still own this camera and sometimes load it up with Black & White film and have some fun-filled time.
Around 1987, I got my hands onto a Canon T90 which a friend had purchased but was not as eager about photography as I was. All the bit better for me, since I got to use it more often than he could lay his hands on it. With this camera and a high-tech flash unit to match, I began to develop an understanding of Portrait Photography. Around the same time, I got a chance to become the key photographer at a close relative’s wedding, and it went so well that in my opinion, their wedding album, which I had presented to the couple as their wedding gift, was and still is perhaps the most significant photo portfolio of my life. To many a viewers of this wedding album, it is one of the best they have seen.
My photo journey went on…. and so did many different cameras, SLRs and Compacts, bought or borrowed. The Pentax MV1 however remained with me throughout this time. With more career and work-related engagements, my photography enthusiasm drifted to some degree and became more of an occasional event rather than a regular hobby or a serious past-time.
Then came the digital era…….. 640X480 pixels with snaps recorded on a floppy disk! At least that was the first one that I handled. It was fun, but was mostly for office related use… nothing serious. However, around mid of 1996, I was on a trip to the United States, where I came across a 1.3 mega-pixel point & shoot by Sony. It was their CyberShot P30, a small little camera with a view finder as well as a live view LCD and a 6X digital zoom. This little thing brought me back into a more determined focus on photography. But then, my P30 unfortunately got stolen, so after a while, I bought another P30 😉 (Crazy, isn’t it?). However, I began to realize that the Digital P30 was not giving me enough control that I wished to have or what I was so used to. My search started for a digital camera which could provide me more controls, yet possess the versatility that was being attributed to digital cameras.
Hence came the Sony F717, my first major investment in a digital camera equipment, costing me a little over a thousand dollars at that time. This camera changed me from a past-time shooter to a much more serious amateur photographer. This camera became a very close and dedicated friend, allowing me to capture images after images, and to a great degree, allowing me to have more control over the manual settings of the equipment it offered. Once I outgrew this camera, I passed it over to my Son, and sometime ago, I got it back once he got himself another piece of equipment. I then converted my F717 to a dedicated Infrared-only camera, and am having substantial fun with it, even today.
In spite of having used Canon, Nikon and Pentax in the past, when it came to Digital, my comparatively more recent Sony addiction continued, and it added fuel to fire when Sony purchased Konica Minolta’s Camera Division and launched their first DSLR, the Sony Alpha A100. I pondered over it for a few months, and finally gave in to my inner passion and purchased the Alpha A100.
With the Sony Alpha A100 being an revival of Konica Minolta, I feel that In a way, I started with a Minolta, and am perhaps living with a Minolta legacy ;-).
Up until a year back, my Alpha A100 remained to be my primary equipment, with a reasonably decent arsenal of Sony and Minolta lenses alongside other pieces of prime glass in the M42 mount, which I use on my Alpha with a conversion adapter. My Alpha traveled with me, practically everywhere I went. My weekends and my past time became seriously devoted to photography, and I have begun to learn and teach and learn on the way.
About a year back, while waiting for the launch of the replacement model for Sony Alpha A700, I came across the new generation compact mirror-less interchangeable lens Panasonic Lumix GF1. I simply could not resist the temptation to give it a try, and I have been hooked since ;-). The GF1 provided me the functions, operation and the image quality that is comparable to many high-end cameras, with the addition of an exceptional level of portability that can never be achieved while carrying a Traditional or Digital SLR. Due to this simple fact, the GF1 provides me with more photo opportunities by simply being available when needed. The fun part is that I can use my entire arsenal of Sony, Minolta, M42 lenses, aside from other legacy lenses from different camera manufacturers, an ability only available with mirror-less interchangeable lens cameras.
I continue to use my Sony Alpha series of equipment for more serious level of work, whereas the GF1 remains to be my casual and lighter-weight carry as and when needed.