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  • Writer's pictureSteve Gemmell

A lifetime of cameras

Updated: Jun 15, 2023

Just thinking about the number of cameras I have owned over the years. Including film and digital the figures are probably well in excess of 30.

Gear acquisition syndrome

In photographic circles, the acronym GAS stands for “Gear acquisition syndrome.” There wasn’t such a need to constantly upgrade or change our camera gear before digital cameras arrived. There wasn’t the need, but most photographers will admit to having this urge throughout their photographic life!

Camera advertisements in Amateur Photographer magazine 1977
Advert from Amateur Photographer Magazine 1977

Digital Technology

However, during the rise of digital cameras the need to upgrade has been accelerated by the gradual improvements in sensor performance and other electronic wizardry. Back in the day the choice was what film emulsion you used to get the desired results. Upgrading the camera didn’t alter sensitivity and dynamic range as it can today. The cameras were largely mechanical in operation and far less complicated in many ways. Do you detect a fondness in my words for the “good old days?”

The Good Old Days?

I do miss using slide (or transparency) films which you could project to view. Many hours were also spent in the darkroom developing and printing which was an exciting learning experience. But I also enjoy today’s methods of working which has of course opened up many more creative opportunities for everyone.

1980 photographic competition winner
Competition winner shot on “slide film”

My History

So here is a very brief history of my image making journey over the past 50 odd years.

It all started with a Kodak Brownie Starmite. It was a Christmas present from my parents when I was probably about 11 or 12 years old. Can’t remember the exact date. It must have been in the early 1960s. Here is a link which shows comprehensive info on the camera.

Kodak Brownie Starmite-my very first camera
My very first Camera

It used 127 roll film which I used in colour and black and white versions. Quite a few years later I started to get more interested in photography as a hobby. Colleagues at work were using SLR ( single lens reflex ) cameras and I was starting to read up on them.

So my first “proper” camera was a Praktica LTL. I believe I purchased it around 1971. This was joined a few years later by the excellent Pentax Spotmatic. One camera would be loaded with black and white film, the other with colour slide film.

Praktica LTL
First serious camera! - Praktica LTL

Many other cameras were bought over the years including a foray into larger formats and even a good quality Canon cine super 8 camera for a while.

I was a very keen amateur and an active member of several camera clubs. Articles for magazines and competition entries were sent off. This resulted in a few winners in addition to some illustrated pieces published in the likes of Amateur Photographer magazine.

Published article by Steve Gemmell in Amateur Photographer Magazine  September 1977
Article in Amateur Photographer Magazine 1977

Of course when digital came along I got one of the first digital consumer cameras to experiment with. It was an Olympus and cost a fortune back in those early days.

Early Olympus consumer digital camera
Early consumer digital camera

I was fascinated by the technology and could see the potential of digital and taught myself how to use Photoshop. By 2002 I had moved on to early Canon digital SLRs and purchased the Canon D60. A few years later at the grand age of 55, I decided I would try my hand at making a living from my love of photography. I splashed out on a high-end Canon 1DS and started shooting weddings.

By 2005 I needed cameras that would shoot good images in low lighting conditions so I moved to 2 Canon 5Ds. Further versions followed as technology improved and I moved to versions 2 and then 3.

Around 2011 I became aware of the benefits of mirrorless cameras and purchased the Fujifilm XPro1. So my switch to mirrorless and Fujifilm cameras started. I gradually introduced them into my professional work. Here is an article about my experiences adapting to the mirrorless system for my wedding and social work.

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