My 12+ years of Digital Photography. – Part II
See part I here.
My digital journey began while living in the Puget Sound area of Washington state and all of my early digital cameras, the Olympus C2100UZ, Nikon 5700, Sony F707 and Panasonic FZ20 were small sensor, long zoom cameras.
The Panasonic FZ20 continued to serve faithfully for a few more years. In October of 2005, I “moved up” to a four thirds SLR. I thought about going all the way up to full frame or APS-C sensors, but having gotten used to the lighter weight and versatility of small “all in one” zooms I decided to look for a much larger sensor in a not so large (for that time) body. My choice was for the Olympus E-500 with the 14-45 kit lens plus the very good Olympus 70-300.
This kit served me very well for the next few years, but I encountered a few “complications” in my photographic life. The job move to company global headquarters and promotion to “Fraud Investigator” took a lot from my personal time and energy. Instead of being paid hourly I was now salary and with the larger paycheck also came a many more challenges for my time and energy. While I did manage to get out every now and then with my cameras, it was not like when I lived in the Puget Sound where almost every weekend, weather permitting, was a photo weekend.
Despite the increased pressures of work, I did manage to keep my hand into a little photo work on occasion. The E-500 was no speedster mind you, but then I started in Photography back in the 1960’s long before features such as through the lens metering, autofocus, auto-aperture/shutter existed. So I was accustomed to taking my time, not rushing and planning out my shots. So at the time the E500 seemed like a very fast camera. The image quality was excellent as long as the ISO was kept below 800. Now that might seem awfully poor low light performance for a sensor of that size, but keep in mind that when digital started out, 400 was still considered high ISO for many people, most of whom had come from film backgrounds where we shot ISO 25-160 as the norm and 400 was fast, and its lower image quality was “tolerated”. I really liked the Olympus E-500 with kit lens and 70-300. Eventually the E-500 body was replaced by an E510 (one of the early cameras with IBIS (in body image stabilization). I still have my E510 and the kit lens, though it pretty much sits on the shelf now days.
These were liberating years for me photographically even if I lacked the time to really get serious about it. I was learning the ins and outs of post processing in a digital manner rather then the old “chemical based” lab processing which I had been doing for 34 years. Early on, digital was more of an experimental medium as the image sensors and cameras were not yet “mature” but by 2005 the photographic industry had taken a new direction. I explored the limits a lot, but I was still shooting JPEG and had not yet really explored the full potential of digital work.
In October 2006, my work took me back to the Philippines for one year. I was provided a condo in Makati, the international business district but my main office was in Cainta. Now if you were to look at a map, you wouldn’t think that the two were very far apart, and in fact they really aren’t. But if you’ve never experienced the traffic of the Manila NCR (National Capital Region) it is something to behold. The actual distance from my condo to my office was a little over 6 miles or 10 Kilometers. However there were other factors. I would be picked up in a company van, along with other people. That would mean multiple stops in heavy traffic, and I mean HEAVY traffic. On a good day the trip would be 45 minutes but 60-90 minute trips were not out of the ordinary. On a few occasions, it would take more then 2 hours. The opposite was true though on a couple of occasions when I was sick and left work early, between the hours of 2 AM and 4 AM, then it only took 15 minutes. But my average day with commute would be 10.5-12 hours though sometimes longer. (18 hours was my record). Since we worked US hours, that meant working Philippine nights. That also meant sleeping days during the best photography hours.
A large part of my photography in the Philippines was taken on the way to work or on the way back home. Usually from inside the company van. Now since I also had to travel with my laptop, umbrella (during monsoon season) papers, etc, in a sometimes crowded van, there wasn’t the room to carry my “Olympus Kit” with me much of the time. So I decided to pick up a “pocket camera” just to make sure I always had a camera with me. The first camera was a Nikon S10. This little jewel of a camera with a 10X optical zoom would fit in a pocket easily, and took up no room. However it didn’t have quite the image IQ I had come to enjoy. Still I took many a photo with it, and in good light I had no regrets.
However I was left wanting something better. That something better turned out to be the venerable Panasonic FZ50. It was small enough to fit in my pack along with my laptop, but with a larger 1/1.7 sensor had much improved image quality and equipped with an incredibly sharp 12X constant f2.8 aperture lens designed by Leica for Panasonic, providing a nice compromise in image quality and enjoyment of use for some time both in the Philippines and a while after. You can see quite a few of those photographs in the video slide show “Philippines Journey” I recommend though using the link provide on that page to view the slide show in 720P HD directly on YouTube for the best quality.
So I started my digital Journey in Dec of 2000. I returned to the US from the Philippines in October of 2007.
In Part III, I’ll complete up my journey up to the present and discuss the equipment and processes that I work with now.