I bought my first, own, personal, not Mum’s, not borrowed, not sent with to school camp - camera - when I was young, had a good paying job and had just discovered Hire Purchase.
It was a Canon EOS 3000N, and it was a wonderful camera… I bought the twin lens kit, which gave me everything from 28mm - 300mm. I had no idea what I was doing, but in my own self-inflating stupidity I knew that it was exactly what I needed to take the-best-photos-in-the-known-universe.
I feel awful typing this, it pangs at somewhere below the cockles of my heart and above my colon (Denis Leary) when I say that I maybe put a few films through it, before I knew, believed and understood in a way so assured that I would go to war over it, that I needed a digital SLR. My 3000N still sits in a box somewhere in New Zealand, alone, cold, dirty, dark and probably very scared. See what I said about the pangs!
So I bought a Canon EOS 300D. I have no recollection of buying it, I don’t know where or when it was, I don’t know how much I paid, I don’t know why I bought it - other than I knew I needed it, and it would make me a photographer.
It did not.
When I review the two hundred and something photos I feel proud enough of to share with the world on Flickr, and specifically the photos taken with my 300D, a large majority of these are just holiday snaps I got lucky shooting on Auto with. I’ve shot 8138 photos with my 300D, and I feel proud of about 150 of them.
Less than 2% of photos taken with my 300D have seen the light of day.
Why? Why? Why? Because having a digital SLR with a 6.3 Megapixel CMOS sensor, 7-point wide-area AF, High-performance DIGIC processor and 100-1600 ISO speed range did not help me see, feel or understand.
We’re about to launch into a post on photographic creativity, which is a whole other subject for another day. But, if I may skip a few chapters and bring us right back to a modified Canon:
My father-in-law gave me his Baldamatic I, which is a stunning little camera and got me looking for creative photos, and then my Uncle-in-law gave me his Yashica J and I was forced into understanding shooting fully manual and taking light meter readings, and finally I fell in love with the look of an Olympus OM1 and bought it on the spot. Six months later, with me deliberately restricting myself to a 50mm prime, I was starting to grasp what an SLR was supposed to do. I was starting to understand photos.
Full circle, right back to the start, 10 years, 10,000 photos and I was back where I started. But, film is expensive and I felt dumb neglecting my 300D. But I had two of the most beautiful lenses ever, the stunning Zuiko 50mm ƒ1.4 and 24mm ƒ2.8 sitting in the cupboard for my OM1.
I could see a natural marriage here. The 300D was and is a great camera. Long ago I overrode the firmware with a hacked version making the 300D virtually a 10D (same sensor!) and the Zuiko OM lenses are manna from heaven.
There were two issues slowing this betrothal:
EOS - OM lens mounts
The tiny, ugly and impossible Canon focussing screen vs. manual focus.
I hit the web, at pace, and was well rewarded.
In a fluke of Canon and Olympus engineering, the OM lenses fit via a small and simple adapter to the EOS mount.
A very nice chap called Dr Haoda is out there re-machining Pentax screens to fit the 300D.
Hence, I have modified my old trusty Canon EOS 300D to within an inch of its life. It’s now really a Canympus 1-10D!
I took it out today, I had a free cup of tea voucher for the Winchester Cathedral refectory café, and that’s all the motivation I needed to drive the 20 miles down there on a brilliant late winter’s day!
I’m pretty happy with the results, the Cathedral is dark inside, so it was a real test of shooting manual focus wide open with a tiny view finder - but it all kind of looks ok. The 300D has a new lease of life, deservedly alongside the Baldamatic and OM1.