My first SLR
I bought my first SLR in the early 90’s. It was a Cosina CT1 with a 35-70mm f/3.5-4.8 zoom lens.
I also got myself a Starblitz ring flash, a Sunpak external flash, a set of cheap macro lenses and (an ever cheaper) tripod.
This was the era of the analog point and shoot camera.
Minolta, Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Kodak (to name but a few brands) sold these cameras that were simplicity itself to use. Just load the film, ensure the battery was inserted and point and shoot.
The built in flash could be set to manual or Auto and the film would automatically wind forward to the next frame after the shutter was released. On reaching the end of the roll the camera would magically rewind the film ready to be removed and sent for development!
Minimal settings… no brainer… good results.
These cameras however failed to serve two of my needs.
There were no LCD projectors those days (and when they did arrive they were extremely expensive). Presentations were made with film slides and a slide projector.
I needed a camera that would allow me to frame and accurately expose images off a computer screen.
I’d make presentation slides on Corel Draw (the program came to me in a pile of 15 ‘floppies’ of 1.44MB capacity each !) and bring each one up in full screen mode.
I’d then mount the Cosina loaded with slide film on a tripod in a darkened room (most often at night) in front of the computer monitor. Thanks to the SLR feature, I could frame the slide exactly as I wanted it and check the exposure on the built-in exposure meter. A shutter release cable helped avoid camera shake.
It wasn’t long before I became the friendly-neighborhood-slide-maker for all and sundry!
Intra oral tumor photography
The other area where the point and shoot cameras failed miserably was in taking close-ups.
I do a lot of head and neck surgery and often need to document intra-oral lesions.
In a point and shoot camera, the viewfinder, the flash and the lens are positioned a few centimeters apart from each other. For pictures taken at a distance this is not an issue. However for close-ups it makes a huge difference.
I often wound up viewing the oral cavity but snapping the chin of the patient! And when I did manage to get the oral cavity into the shot, the flash would cast a perfect shadow of the individual’s dentition right across the print!
Coupling the Cosina with a ring flash helped solve this problem.
My first Canon SLR
Somewhere in the mid 90’s I bought my first Canon SLR camera.
Why did I choose Canon over Nikon? This was 30 years ago and it’s all quite hazy. I’m sure I must have researched the market before finalizing my choice, but, truth be told, I can’t honestly remember why I chose one over the other. And, over the years, having read a number of opinions of each for and against each other I have come to the conclusion that both are equal.
The camera was the Canon EOS 50 (also known in the US as the Elan II). The kit lens it came with was EF 35-80mm f/4-5.6 USM.
This is a great camera and I still use it occasionally. The one bone of contention I have with this snapper though, is that this was the camera on which I succumbed to the lure of the Auto/Program modes!
After decades of having to mull over exposure settings and spend sleepless hours wondering if the prints would turn out OK, here was a SLR that had a couple of magical modes that did not require the use of a brain to achieve decent results!
I’m convinced that little green rectangle on the mode dial has hypnotic powers and I’m ashamed to say, that I remained under its spell till well into the digital age!!