Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Any Old Camera

Most people who take up photography as a hobby will at some point pick a camera brand and stick with it. Not because they are lucky enough to always correctly pick the best brand for them from the off, but because once they've bought a few lenses they are kind of committed. For me, that brand happened to be Canon.

The camera on the left is the Canon EOS 550D. I bought it, new, with lens, for 635 quid back in 2010. It was my first DSLR, bought both for my role as official photographer at the Rabbit Residence Rescue and for taking photos of my bunnies. I liked it a lot, it was a pretty decent camera for rabbit photography, especially when it had the cheap but wonderful Canon 24mm STM pancake lens on the front of it. As a formerly purely compact camera user I found the controls difficult to decipher and learn at first, but once I did I found the camera very effective. However, as it was only a smidge above entry level as DSLRs go, it wasn't built for the all-weather punishment it received in its years taking photos for the RRR calendar and blog. In essence, I killed it. Like the compacts that came before it, it has all sorts of mess mushed into all of its dips, gaps and grooves and has long since ceased to function. Photography, it turns out, can be a very expensive hobby.

The camera on the right is the Canon EOS 5D, a ten-year-old full-frame camera that cost over 3000 quid in its day. I bought this one last month, used, for 230 quid (without a lens). Although it is old and well used, the 5D is a more solidly built, professional grade of camera, so this one still has a bit of life in it. Despite its age, I predict that it will be some months before I manage to kill this one with dirt, fur, poo, woodshavings and rain.

So, especially if you are a fan of my rabbit photos, you might now be thinking "Are these good bunny cameras? Should I invest in one?". To which I would say: No. Definitely not. The 550D was great in its day but it has been replaced with newer better models in Canon's line-up many times over. Considering how many models have come since, its age and that it didn't seem to be built to last, they always seem surprisingly expensive to me to buy used. Then there's the 5D - revolutionary in its day, but that day has long passed. To use it now, it is by no means a beginners camera and I find taking rabbit pictures with it especially painful:- the relatively slow autofocus, no "live view", the tiny screen, few autofocus points, the low maximum ISO (which effectively limits what shutter speeds you can use), the 12 megapixel sensor you can't crop images from, the shutter so heavy it shakes the camera, the bulk and weight of it. Almost any half-decent modern camera puts it to shame. So why did I even buy it?!

After 8+ years photographing bunnies at the RRR, I had become lazy and was taking essentially the same few photos over and over again. I am hoping the 5D will break the cycle and force me to think carefully about photography again. I can't just point and shoot, everything needs to be planned around the limitations of the ageing technology. So far so good, the 5D is the camera I have been using for most of the shots I have taken up to now for this project, in fact ALL the shots from October were taken with it.

So there you go. Not very helpful if you were looking for advice on buying your own camera perhaps (I'll maybe try and address that soon), but as I am often asked "What camera do you use?", this is the post to tell you exactly that. Until I manage to kill this one as well, anyway.

I'll leave you with one of my favourite photos taken with the 5D last weekend and one of the RRR's most delightful adoptable pairs. This is the moment chocolate lop Mod, seemingly oblivious to the treat I was trying to give her, decided to try and mug her husbun Burny Whiskers for his instead!

BTW, if think you might like to adopt this gorgeous pair, go register your interest over at the RRR website!

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