My Gear History - CalW

My Camera Gear History


So how did I get here?


During my sixty plus year involvement with photography, I have used a wide variety of tools. Mostly, it all did the job, some better than others. The only gear I truly regret is the Polaroid I used for three years. Those three years of memories, although stored in albums in a light tight cabinet, have now totally faded away. I have tried and failed to reconstruct my actual sequence of gear over the years, but there were square boxes with one button and a knob called Kodak Brownies, Canon, Olympus and Kodak film rangefinders, many simple point-and-shoot film cameras by Fuji, Olympus and others, a pretty good but heavy 35mm film SLR system by Minolta, and a unique and surprisingly good APSC film SLR system by Nikon.  And yes, that Polaroid.


And then came the digital era. Photography really didn’t change, but it did become much cheaper to throw away the bad photographs. I experimented with several tiny but poor quality early digital cameras from Minolta and Canon, then bought huge and heavy used Canon 1-series professional digital cameras and a set of Canon L lenses. The Canon gear at first seemed wonderful, but it didn’t appear to improve very much as successive new models came along. Eventually I couldn’t take lugging around six pound cameras any longer so settled with a medium sized 8 MB Canon 20D with that same set of L lenses, and with these tools over a six year period made many photographs that I continue to sell today. There were also a Canon 5D, which everyone except me seemed to love, and a couple of small and light Canon G-series digital point-and-shoot cameras for travel. Then Olympus and Panasonic introduced the Micro Four Thirds camera system, with a sensor half the area of full frame. Perhaps in part due to my fond memories of that APSC Nikon film system I became a big fan of these small system cameras, owning during five years at least four camera bodies and over a dozen lenses.


My last Micro four thirds camera used a Sony sensor and I watched with interest as Sony soon became the prominent sensor manufacturer. I bought a Sony RX100 pocket sized camera and was blown away by what it could do. After the Sony RX1 35mm full frame super-point-and-shoot had been out for a year and was available used, I took a giant leap and bought one. This was a huge WOW experience. The RX1 was and continues to be my favorite camera of all time, and I will not part with it. But the RX1 is limited by its fixed lens, despite that Carl Zeiss lens being arguably the best 35mm lens ever made. Sony full-frame sensor system cameras were now smaller than my beloved old 20D, so I purchased a used Sony a7r 36 megapixel full frame system camera to see if this would be an appropriate direction. It certainly was, and I sold my remaining Canon and Micro Four Thirds gear. Today a Sony RX100 version 3 and my faithful Sony RX1 are accompanied by a new 42 megapixel Sony a7r2. For my purposes the a7r2 is closer to being a general purpose photography tool than I ever expected could be possible. I own for the a7r2 two excellent modern Carl Zeiss/Sony lenses that fill my frequent usage sweet spots, as well as two tiny Voigtlander Leica M-mount manual lenses for walkabout and a collection of near new or mint Olympus OM system classic manual lenses that are all easily adapted. See the My Current Gear section for photographs of and details on this gear.


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