Journey into photography

First a disclaimer:
My first hundred or so mediocre pictures, taught me that it's the photographer -- not the fancy equipment -- who makes the picture.
Geniuses with very simple cameras have sometimes taken award-winning photos.

Having gotten that out of the way, may I give honorable mention here,
to some of the fine image capture equipment, that facilitated my journey to photographic self-education.

1959 Ihagee Exa

I started photography in 1984 with a 1959 Ihagee Exa version 4.2 SLR camera, my late father bought during a 1961 visit to Berlin, GDR.

1959 Exacta Exa ver 4.2

The overpowering  initial motivation to learn photography was,
so that I could take pics of Aniruddh, my firstborn son, born on 26th September 1984.

The 1959 Exa SLR did not have a built-in exposure meter. And it was designed to have a optional detachable reflex pentaprism.
Not having the optional pentaprism, I had instead the focusing screen with folding reflex finder hood and folding magnifier.
Missing the pentaprism, one saw a mirror-image on the ground glass screen.

The Exa had 1/150, 1/100, 1/50, 1/25 and B settings. It had two separate flash sync terminals marked F (for regular flash) and X (for Xenon flash).
The lens was a very good prime 50 mm f/2.8 Tessar by Carl Zeiss Jena. It could stop down to f/22.

I had a 1960 Werralux (batteryless) exposure meter. It worked off a Selenium photoelectric cell.

This was a separate handheld meter with a galvanometer needle to indicate how much light was incident on the selenium cells.
The face of the meter had a slide-rule dial-in-a-dial. You set the Film speed (ASA/DIN) on the inner dial, and rotated the outer dial which moved a red pointer.
When the pointer aligned on the galvanometer needle, you could read-off exposure value, shutter-speed and aperture reciprocals -- match needle metering!
It had a brown stitched leather case with a burgundy velvet inner surface.

Werralux Selenium cell lightmeter

Minolta 110 zoom SLR Mk II

My first automatic was a Minolta 110 zoom SLR Mk II purchased in December 1984.
It looked like a looked like a miniature 35mm SLR and thankfully had a built-in meter. It had aperture priority match-LED autoexposure.

It accepted Kodak 110 format drop-in film cartridges. Could use 100 and 400 speed film.
Each frame on the film was 13×17mm, with one registration hole. The film's plastic cartridge housing also registered the image when the film was advanced.

The lens was a Minolta Rokkor two-touch zoom: 25-67mm/f3.5 with macro capability (focusing down to 8 inches!). This was equivalent to a 50-135mm lens in full frame 35mm.
For such a tiny camera, the lens had 12 elements in 10 groups.

1984 Minolta 110 Zoom SLR Mk II

The Nikon FE2

My first travel outside India was to California, USA in January 1985. In that visit, I purchased a Nikon FE2 SLR camera (black version) with a Vivitar Series 1 28mm-90mm f/2.8-3.5 varifocal lens at San Jose Camera & Video, Campbell, CA.

The unique feature of the Nikon FE2 in 1985, was its Seiko Titanium-honeycomb vertical travel focal plane shutter curtain.
Its competitor, the Canon A-1 had a rubberized cloth shutter curtain.

The titanium shutter gave the FE2, the world's highest shutter speed (in 1985) of 1/4000th of a second, a speed range of 8 to 1/4000, plus Bulb and Xenon flash sync of 1/250th second. These were quartz oscillator timed speeds. The FE2 also had a mechanical shutter speed of 1/250th of a second, for batteryless operation.

Also it was compact and rugged. While the Canon A-1 had a plastic body, the Nikon FE2 had a Copper-Aluminum-Silicon alloy chassis. It also had interchangeable focusing screens and a depth-of-field preview lever.

1985 Nikon FE2 with Vivitar Series I 28-90 f/2.8-3.5

Over time I added useful accessories. 

In June 1986, I added a Nikon SB-16B flash.
This had a main flash head capable of zoom, tilt and rotate for bounce flash.
A secondary flash head could fill in the shadows in the eye sockets and be a small catch light for the eyes.
The flash had a guide number of 105 feet at ISO-100 with zoom head set at N (35mm).
It put out a near-daylight colour temperature of around 6,000° K.
Its MD setting allowed the flash to synchronize with the motor-driven camera firing at 4 frames per second for shooting 8 pictures in series.
Recycling time at full manual output was approx. 11 seconds, with more flashes and shutter recycle times in TTL mode.

And a Nikon SC-17 TTL remote coiled cord. This lets the flash unit be used up to 1½ m off-camera preserving TTL automatic flash operation.
With two slave flash sync terminals and tripod socket.

1986 Nikon Speedlight SB-16B rear

1986 Nikon Speedlight SB-16B and SC-17 TTL cord

in 1987, a Nikon MD-12 motor drive
and in 1997,  an AF Nikkor 70-210mm f/4-5.6 D zoom lens and Nikon PK-13 Macro extension tube.
1997 Nikkor AF-D 70-210 f\/4-5.6

First digital camera in 2002

My first digital camera was a 2002 Nikon Coolpix 4500 purchased in August 2002.
It has a swivel-body and a 4 megapixel sensor. The sensor size is 7.18 x 5.32 mm (0.38 cm²).
The lens is a 4.1x Zoom-Nikkor; 7.85-32mm f/2.6-5.1. It has 10 elements in 8 groups and is equiv. to 38-155mm format on 35mm format.
The camera has a 1.5 inch LCD Screen.

2002 Nikon Coolpix 4500

Mobile Cameraphones

Since 2005, I have had a series of mobile phones with built-in cameras of increasing quality and capability.
My first mobile cameraphone was a 2005 Nokia 3230 (1.2 megapixel fixed focus, no flash) purchased in March 2005.

Nokia 3230

Then in September 2006, I purchased a 2006 Nokia N73 cameraphone.
Powered by a 220 MHz dual CPU ARM9, this had a Carl-Zeiss Tessar (4-element) autofocus lens, an LED flash and a 3.15 megapixel (2048 x 1536 pixels) sensor.
It had a mechanical shutter.

Nokia N73

a 2007 Nokia N82 (5 megapixel Carl-Zeiss Tessar, Xenon flash) purchased in December 2007.
This had a 5 megapixel camera (2592 x 1944 pixels) with the famous Tessar four-element lens from Carl Zeiss.
The Tessar's front element is a positive crown glass element, center element is a negative flint glass element and the rear element is a doublet comprising a negative plano-concave flint glass element cemented to a positive convex crown glass element. Max. aperture was f/2.8 at wide narrowing down to f/5.6 at telephoto.
First time for Nokia was a built-in Xenon-tube high intensity discharge flash.
Nokia N82

2010 Nokia N8 (12 megapixel Carl-Zeiss Tessar, Xenon flash).
This was purchased in October 2010.

It has a 12 megapixel (4000x3000 pixels) sensor, which at 1/1.83'' was one of the largest put into a cameraphone until Nokia beat its N8 with the 808 PureView.
It uses a wide angle fixed aperture f/2.8 lens (equivalent to a 28mm lens on a 35 mm format camera) with neutral density filter and face detection.
It can record 720p HD video @ 30 frames per second and realtime autofocus.

Nokia N8

My current everywhere everyday point-and-shooter is a 2012 Nokia 808 PureView
(41 megapixel sensor, Carl-Zeiss, Xenon gas flash plus white-LED video light).

This was acquired in September 2012.

Nokia 808 PureView

It has a 41 megapixel sensor which can give rectangular pics of
38 megapixels(7152x5368 pixels) or 34 megapixels(7728x4354 pixels).
The sensor size at 1/1.2'' is the very largest ever put into a cameraphone to date. That gives a pixel size of 1.4 micron.

It uses a Carl Zeiss wide angle fixed aperture f/2.4 lens made of 5 aspherical elements in a single group.
The focal length is 8.02mm, equivalent to
a 28mm lens on a 35 mm format camera at 4:3 aspect ratio and
a 26mm lens on a 35 mm format camera at 16:9 aspect ratio.
It has neutral density filters and face detection.

It can record 1080p HD video @ 30 frames per second with realtime autofocus, 4X lossless zoom
and stereo sound recording rated up to 140db.

ISO sensitivity range is 80-1600 manual (+automatic)
It has five white balance presets(including auto)
Exposure compensation +/-4EV in 0.3EV steps
Focus range: is 15 cm – Infinity (throughout the zoom range)
The shutter is mechanical.

2010 Canon SX20IS superzoom camera

In March 2010, my elder son Aniruddh gifted me a Canon SX20IS.
Its lens is a 5mm-100mm(20x) superzoom equivalent to 28-560mm on a 35mm full-frame format.

2010 Canon SX20IS

The sensor is a 1/2.3", 12.1 megapixel (4000×3000) CCD sensor. The DSP features 720p HD video recording with output to an HDMI port.
It has a 2½ inch vari-angle articulated 230,000-dot LCD monitor.

First digital SLR camera in 2012

My children gifted me this Nikon D5100 with a Sigma 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM II lens.

The Nikon D5100

This is a Nikon F-mount digital SLR camera with a Sony IMX071, 16.2 megapixel DX format CMOS sensor.
The sensor is the same as in the Nikon D7000, Pentax K-5, Sony Alpha A580 and Sony SLT Alpha A55 cameras.
Pixels are measured with a 14-bit ADC.
DxO Labs awarded this sensor, an overall score of 80%, above much more expensive competitors.
It delivers full HD 1080p video at at a choice of 24, 25 or 30 frame per second frame-rates.

It has a 3 inch articulated 921,000-dot LCD monitor.
Has HDMI HD video output.

2012 Nikon D5100

It has an Expeed EI-154 (EXPEED 2) DSP controlled by an integrated Fujitsu FR-81 32-bit RISC microcontroller core.

  • 1080p H.264/MPEG-4 HD video encoder,
  • improved face detection,
  • image noise reduction
  • image distortion/chromatic aberration correction
  • Bayer filtering
  • demosaicing
  • image sensor corrections/dark-frame subtraction
  • image sharpening
  • image scaling
  • gamma correction
  • image enhancement/Active D-Lighting
  • colorspace conversion
  • chroma subsampling
  • framerate conversion
  • in camera HDR mode
  • image compression/JPEG encoding
  • video compression
  • display/video interface driving
  • digital image editing
  • audio processing/compression/encoding
  • computer data storage/data transmission

The Sigma travel superzoom lens on the Nikon D5100

The first lens on the Nikon D5100 is the Sigma 18-200mm f3.5-6.3 mk II DC OS HSM lens.
This is a compact high zoom (11.1x) ratio lens with optical stabilizer.
Accomodating wide-angle to telephoto focal lengths, it seems to be an ideal daily travel lens.

2012 Sigma 18-200mm f3.5-6.3 mkII DC OS HSM Sigma lens elements

It has 18 glass elements in 14 groups. These elements are:

And a fast and silent auto-focusing HSM motor.

And this is the story of my tripod.