lensbaby-0891 grave yard-1 grave yard-1-13 DSC_6390As far as camera bodies go now days every company does a great job and has very good tech. There are advantages and disadvantages to every body.

Sony’ alpha Series A850 and A900 are great cameras high megapixel at 24.6 counts and All the Minolta A mount glass you can dream of. Both the A850 and 900 are discontinued now but can be picked up relatively cheap off eBay. Minolta glass is of top quality, but can be expensive even used but deals are out there and since the Minolta AF system started in 1984 there is a lot of glass out there to be found! Ebay is still the best source and you can find everything you could ever want but it’s also the most expensive. most of the Minolta AF telephoto’s such as the 300mm 2.8 prime is still selling in the 2500-3000$ range. but the more common primes even the pro 1.4’s can be had under 1000$ and I even found some in the 200 dollar range.     Also it should be noted that Sony is launching a new full frame camera line soon and hopefully it will have a the modern frills that the earlier Alphas didn’t. Right now a shooter on a budget can pick up a A900 with 24mp for under 1500$ off eBay I also saw the famous Minolta  50mm af 1.4 prime for under 200$ and no other place can you get that performance for that price.

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As most of you know I’m a die hard Nikon Fan but this wasn’t always the case, there was a time not so long ago that I was among the dreaded Canon faithful.

As with most photographers I started my digital life with a canon and thought that the little d30 and later 30d were great cameras. On a shoot in southern California a strange miracle happened I went to turn on my canon 30d and it broke, the little canon wouldn’t power up so I found my self 3000 miles from home on the biggest commercial shoot of my short career without a working camera. I calmly walked over to the makeup artist said hello to the talent, told the make up artist to take their time that they had all morning to get the talent just right. I then calmly walked over to the Ad Executive said hey I’ve got great news I just found out that I can get a special lens for the shoot and was going to step out to pick it up while the talent was in hair and make up. The Ad executive’s only question was is this in the budget? I said of course! and off I calmly walked out of the studio. the second the studio door shut behind me i was off and running in a panic… down the halls in  a panic… out the door in a panic… to my car in a panic… i quickly dialed the operator asking for a camera shop since i didn’t know the area.. driving the streets of LA in a panic… running into said camera store in a panic and up to the counter where i traded in my canon gear a little Nikon d90 and a couple of lenses.

I jumped back into the car raced back to the studio and calmly walked in. the hair and make up was almost done, I walked over to the Ad executive and chatted a little bit about something i have no idea what since the adrenalin was coursing through my veins and then did the shoot.

The shoot turned out perfect and now I was a Nikon shooter…

Sundown Cory Crossroads BrianWhen I was in Film school a few years back, we actually shot everything on film, 16mm film, it came in 400 foot cans and you had to load the magazines in a black bag all by feel blindfolded as not to expose the film, and this had to be done every ten minutes!!! In fact most of my first jobs on movie sets was as a second camera assistant and all I did all day long was load film mags, after on summer I could load an ARRI II magazine in about 25 seconds flat.

Then in 1997  a funny thing happened digital tape became really small and really high quality they Called it Mini DV.  The tape was about two thirds the size of a business card and cold hold 30mins of footage!!! it was mind blowing! of course we still shot everything on film because it looked better but the winds were blowing. In 2000 Canon also released it’s first digital SLR the D30 it was a camera that you could see the photos as soon as you shout them no dark room how crazy was that!   and the best part about the new camera as far as I was concerned was that the Canon Xl1 video camera and the Canon D30 DSLR had inter changeable lenses, so I only needed on set of glass it was brilliant. Really the only problem was that the image quality of the Canon D30 was horrible 3.1 megapixels and Canon Glass was also horrible but who cared you could see the photos as soon as you shot them and it didn’t cost you anything!!!! you could just reuse your 16 megabyte card over and over  it was crazy!!!! you could hold 40 photos on one of those almost twice as many as a standard roll of film!!!!   The world seemed like it was exploding with futuristic technology!!!!

So most people started buying Canon cameras because they were first and we got hooked on their interchangeable lens kits  rental houses only had to buy one set of glass so they save half the out put cost…  Canon is still the world wide leader in DSLR’s (sigh) because of this, So we all shot on canon that’s just the way it was  some people shot video on a Sony pd150 but as that was a fixed lens camera it wasn’t nearly as versatile as the XL1 so the PD150 wasn’t as popular the end.

Now as  Canon was eating up the Digital Market, other camera companies  such as Minolta and Nikon thought that a better investment was still in Film and lens production but that didn’t stop them from trying the digital market, in fact Nikon’s first digital camera the D1 came out a year before the Canon D1 but the Nikon was crazy expensive and was only 2.7 megapixels, so nobody bought it.

Minolta  stayed right out of the digital area until it merged with Konica. Konica then sold all their camera and Lens technology to Sony, and Minolta one of the greatest camera makers of all time ceased to make cameras and lenses, (sigh) but this did lead to the Development of Sony’s Alpha line of digital cameras in 2006 that though not as popular as Nikon or Canon were of fantastic Glass quality because of a 75  years of  Minolta  development.

The end of my canon story is that My Canon broke on me during a shoot in 2008 I didn’t have a lot of cash on hand but I needed a camera stat, so in a strange deal I got a Nikon D90 and some cash for my canon gear, Best Accident Ever!!!

End of the line This may surprise you, but I haven’t always been a Nikon guy. Back in the days of film I was a Minolta shooter, I bummed around the world with with a dusty backpack (more filled with lenses than clothes) and mt trusty X-700 around my neck.
The X-700 was a hand me down from my mother, she had bought it new in 1984 at Henry’s in Toronto, on Queen Street.
I remember the day quite clearly as she looked at all the cameras and settled on the little black X-700. the camera was manual focus but had built in metering which was a huge deal back then and was programmable which was almost unheard of, but the best thing about it was the glass, off the shelf it came with a 50mm 1.4 that was as sharp as a razor and fantastic in low light. My father haggled with the store clerk for a better price, saying how it wasn’t as good as the new 7000 model that had auto focus, and that all manual focusing cameras were a thing of the past and would soon be discontinued. My mother walked out of the store with a 60 bucks off the list and her new camera under her arm. For the record the X-700 wasn’t discontinued until 1999 and was Minolta’s best bodies of all time. My mother didn’t know it then but she started something in me that day, the funny thing is that i don’t actually remember her ever using the camera just buying it and putting it in the closet. A year or so later my Uncle Dave was getting married I was about 10 at the time and bought 4 rolls of film, dug out the camera out of the closet and that’s it, i was a wedding photographer and I had my first gig…
The photos were interesting, mostly candid, but some staged, and slightly unusual I laugh when I see them now, but I still think for a ten year old’s first wedding gig they’re pretty good. I gave my Uncle two albums one plane and one with the photos all captioned with funny things and my first gig was killed and billed.
That X-700 lasted until 2008, a casualty of the digital age it had sat in my closet for a few years. I had moved on to shooting with a Canon as most people did, and in 2008 for some reason I sold it at a yard sale for 100$ with about 15 lenses lens tubes 30 or so filters and tons of accessories, thousands of dollars worth of outdated gear, that I’d kill to have back now…

Behind the lens is where I’ll be…

Aaron Siskind is one of my favorite American photographers. The funny thing is that I think I like him more for his quotes than his photos.

“Photography is way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever… it remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.”

I love that, and as I look at his photos I see details of a world long past of people forgotten to time, of lives only left in an image.