Image captured with Olympus C765 UZ.
Like famous photographers through history, I started with a modest camera. The first camera I used was an Agfa Gevaert SR841, which sadly met its demise on the concrete steps of the Ahwahnee hotel shortly after my arrival in 2005. My son, bless him, bought me a replacement, an Olympus C765 UZ, that set him back over $300. It was a sweet little camera, light, sharp, great colors, and 10X optical zoom. It had the option of either JPG or TIFF file formats, and in my ignorance, I honestly thought TIFF was the same as RAW. I thought there was something wrong with my sight, because my TIFF files looked as vibrant and clear as my JPG files!
There were problems with the camera; One was the memory card, a proprietary and therefore costly Olympus XD. It was limited to only 2 GB at the largest size. Resolution was another issue–only 4 megabyte images, and although the images were very sharp, magazines required images of 6 and higher megabytes. That’s a rather silly limitation, IMO, given magazine print images are hardly known for their high quality. The worst problem was the limitation of shutter speed, 30 seconds was the longest available, no bulb feature at all. Night photography? Nope. Hang it up. Not gonna happen. Although it had a nice range of ISO options, anything higher than ISO 64 was noisy as hell. Yep, even ISO 100. Also, it was slow to power on, there was a significant lag between pressing the button and the shutter lifting. There was no option for a remote, neither wired or wireless. But it did have a threaded hole for a tripod shoe!
When I made my switch to a digital SLR in 2008, (Canon XTi) I sent my little Olympus to a good friend in New England, because her dog had eaten her camera. I *missed* it. I especially missed the zoom feature. It wasn’t until 2009 that I discovered the Tamron 18-270, and I loved it. But I *still* missed the Olympus C765UZ. So simple, and I got damn good shots with it. Once I learned what a circular polarizer was, and what it could do for my images, I began cranking out images, progressively better and better.
Some time back Mike over at The Online Photographer wrote an article about learning to work with your camera’s limitations; If you don’t push it beyond its stress level, you’ll get good shots. I made a flippant remark about the Holga, a camera so neurotic that picking it up stressed it out. The Olympus was a stolid, reliable little beast that consistently gave me good images, once I had learned its limitations.
I’ve since graduated to the Canon T1i, upgraded to the second edition of the Tamron 18-270, and recently let nostalgia get the better of me. I did a search on eBay, found another C765 with two batteries, all the software (now sadly outdated and will not run on my shiny new Mac Pro), 1 16mb XD card, and manuals. I bought it for $50. I spent $15 on an adapter ring + CR + UV filters, and just now spent <$60 on 3 2GB XD cards.
I know, this is a step backwards; but when you’re humping a 40 lb backpack over 7 miles with a 4K’ elevation gain, you really wonder if you need 10lbs of camera gear that you probably won’t need. At the end of the day, I’m too damn tired to stay up late to photograph the Milky Way over the local peak. There are others who do that way better than I can, and I say good on them and their strong, healthy backs and knees, and their boundless energy. I’m far too old to be dictated to by the latest marketing campaign, because in the final tally, it’s all about what pleases the artist.
Ah, but, you know? I’ll *still* probably add in my DSLR, and heavy tripod. Because, well, you never know what you’ll see in the back country, eh?