Sunday, September 26, 2021

In memoriam : The Canon Years

Alain Comeau at Schartner's Farms in North Conway, NH. 2003. Shot with Canon 1Ds. 

Butternut Squash in East Conway, NH. 2004.

It’s with a trace of sadness that I've said goodbye to 30 years of devoted service from Canon cameras and lenses. Our affair began in the early 90s with a Canon film camera, the prosumer Elan ll. That's when I switched from Pentax which I'd used since 1970. In 1972 when we lived in Minneapolis I bought a Kodak 2D 8”x10” that was built in 1941, the year of my birth. So, I was shooting 35mm, 8x10 and 4x5 since the 2D had a 4x5 back. The whole shebang including a complete darkroom cost $250. The package also came with a bevy of vintage lenses dating from the turn of the 20th century. One, the brass Hyperion Diffusion Lens, was made for swollowing the wrinkles of aging actors like, say. Loretta Young. It became "the Loretta Young Lens." The lenses are handsome, ornate, and highly effective paperweights. They are décor in Casa Immel today while the hulking wooden 8x10 sleeps like Dracula in its leatherette coffin in the garage.

I bought a Cambo 4x5 in 2001. It was a floor model from Calumet Photo in Cambridge, MA. I had used it sparingly and in November of that year Canon announced the trailblazing 1Ds, at the time the highest resolution digital single range reflex camera in the known universe. More about resolution later. Anyway, as I have described too often in these pages, I had to have it despite its $7,995 price tag. I paid $7,700. I am in marketing terms an early adaptor. Or is it easy mark?

It was a tank and it was an incredible camera. See Vanishing Point just below. The 32"x 40" of the image from the 1Ds resides on the wall above my desk. It's as crisp and unpixellated as this evening's IPA. I never used the Cambo 4x5 again or film of any kind, for that matter.

Vanishing Point, Pine Ridge Reservation, SD. 2006

Good Luck, Keeler, CA. 2006

The 1Ds introduced me to the Canon digital family. It’s successors the 5D, the 5D Mark ll, the 6D and the 5D Mark lll served me faithfully. But I was restless and drawn to the flickering flame of the fetching mirrorless camera. Yes, I just wrote "flickering flame of the fetching mirrorless camera." Alliteration flows from my fingertips.

And so, dear readers, after months of therapy, I traded my Canon gear and a boatload of cash for a Sony a7r llla mirrorless camera, two lenses and peripherals. I held the dazzling beauty in my hands for the first time a week ago and promptly suffered three days of buyer’s remorse.

Canon was my stalwart companion since 1991. It guided me into the digital world in 2002. I felt unfaithful and not a little misty about throwing her over for a newer model, so I hedged my bet and kept my 5d Mark lll and my 28mm-135mm zoom as back-ups.

Have it both ways. That’s my motto.

As to resolution, the 1Ds had 11.1 MP, the 5D Mark 111 22.3 MP, the Sony a7r llla 42MP. I couldn’t convince myself to spend another grand for the a7r lV and it’s stratospheric 62MB.

Happy Birthday to me.

1 comment:

Blacks Crossing said...

Your blog yanked at my heart strings in many ways, Steve. It seems all photographers' work evolves through a string of cameras and equipment, and there is almost always buyers' remorse. Or perhaps it is being torn between letting go of the old and the learning curve that lies ahead with the new. And as you said, once you find a digital camera that gives incredibly clear, broad spectrum images, and a processing program that allows you to do everything (and more) that you did in the darkroom, that work, for the most part, is in the past. You have your own darkroom without the chemistry. But as you so aptly show in your blog, Amigo, is how your photographic skills have developed through the usage of a variety of tools from different eras. Including that beautiful "Vanishing Point". Congratulations on your new Sony A7R IIIa mirrorless camera! Brave new world.