The Ones We Return To

Throughout my life I’ve had a keen interest in music, and find that I cycle back to my absolutely favourites over and over again.

Sometimes, if it’s been a while, I hear and experience the music in a slightly different way, a combination of the experiences and growth I’ve gone through since I last listened.

I also find I go off at altered tangents, other music that is similar but I’ve not explored before, enriching the whole experience further.

Mostly recently I’ve returned to Moby’s ambient work, and Bjork’s Vespertine, which somehow in combination led me to Enya, who I’ve been casually aware of as an occasional guilty pleasure since I was a kid and my uncle played me something in the late 80s (almost definitely this), and I can now appreciate more.

The same cycle of returning seems to happen with cameras.

Whilst I admit to a weakness for trying new (to me) cameras fairly regularly, there are those I’ve discovered that I keep returning to time and time again.

The Pentax Q, Ricoh GRD III and Panasonic Lumix LX3 are the three this happens most with, cameras I can’t ever imagine parting with.

Again, because of what’s come to pass in my life (photography and otherwise) since I previously used them, I feel slightly different, and perhaps experiment in new ways with them.

It’s like meeting up with an old friend again, but going someplace new together.

I could say the same to an extent with films and books, but I have a stronger affinity with music.

And cameras and photography of course have been fundamental passions in my life for some 15 years now.

Projecting forward 10 or 20 years, I’m not sure my favourite cameras will still be working, so I don’t know what will happen then.

But the music should still be around, perhaps via some direct upload into our brains that means we never need an external player of any kind again.

How about you? What are the ones you always return to? Or do you move through upgrade after upgrade and never look back to what you had and used before?

Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).

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21 thoughts on “The Ones We Return To”

  1. Whenever I want to be certain of a shot, I grab my Maxxum 7. If I have to get rid of everything else, it will remain. Lately, I find myself using the digital version, the Maxxum 7D instead of any other. It’s only 6MP, but it renders colors exactly as I want.

    Musically speaking—Kind of Blue, by Miles Davis, and Still Life (Talking), Pat Metheny —are muses. Each has inspired shots and posts. When I need to relax and recompose, they are the playlist.

      1. Yeah, I also have a 5D that’s flaky. It drops frames, but still works. Like you I have a rule about buying cameras, and keep the cost below 25. I paid a little more for the 5D, so not a great loss. The 7D works fine and cost 35.00 with two lenses.
        I’m not much of an Enya fan, but I like Áine Minogue’s meditation music.

      2. My 5D just packed up completely. Well, it powered up but then when you pressed the shutter button the screen went black and that was it. It wouldn’t even turn off, you had to remove the battery and insert again.

        I haven’t had a great track record with electronic Minoltas so doubt I’ll try one again.

    1. I saw an article on Pitchfork too but I don’t think it was that one. She reminds me of two of my absolute favourite female singers, Kate Bush and Elizabeth Fraser.

  2. I am 64 so I can ‘return to’ more than 50 years of camera experiences. By around 17, I was using a Zenith E with a Helios 44/2, actually it had the Dixons Prinzflex badge to make one feel slightly less Soviet! I don’t remember having any other lenses but I had one of the equally Soviet enlargers that packed away into a green case. I have sadly lost any work from those days, but my memory is that I produced large sharp black and white prints and that the Zenith/Helios was ‘very good’. These days, I have a severe case of GAS, enjoying the engineering of old, but now cheap cameras and lenses. I recently shot my first film for around 20 years using a Zenith 12XP, supposedly a more refined model but it just felt clunky, the meter batteries died quickly and focusing was a struggle in the small dark viewfinder, did I really like these….. I haven’t seen the results as yet, monochrome on Fomapan 200, something eastern seemed appropriate.
    My lifelong photography path mainly involved Canon, then Nikon digital and now Sony, but I never had a Pentax.
    I now own a Spotmatic, an MX and a P30N, all of which cost peanuts. Today I took another roll of Fomapan 200 with the P30N with the A 50 1.7 in mostly full Program mode, inspired by just shooting, as you have discussed Dan, without worrying about settings – I did remember to focus though and did once or twice use f1.7 for shallow DOF 🙂 The P30N was a pleasure to use, it reminded me of my past Canon AE1 Program, a return to that era. I have a few more frames to use on the second Fomapan, hopefully portraits, then to compare the two film results will be interesting. Film and processing are expensive, I am not sure if a return to film is going to be a regular experience, but the pull to try was strong.
    I can’t say much about music, but I vote for Enya also!

    1. Thanks Richard. Love that your first lens was a Helios 44-2, that was one of my first too, and still one of my very favourites.

      I quite like the old Zenits where you have the exposure dial and needles to line up, and can choose your own combination of shutter speed and aperture for the correct exposure. A simple, effective method.

      I had a couple of P30Ns. They tend to get neglected because of the older ME series, but they’re a great choice when you just want a camera that does the job reliably. And of course you have all those Pentax K lenses at your disposal, and with a cheap adapter, the world of M42 too.

      1. The Helios 44-2 was certainly my first interchangeable lens, an Ilford Sporti and then a Halina Paulette Electric preceded the Zenith which was indeed the match needle type, very basic cameras, but they worked 🙂 It is strange to look back now, I think it was many years and several cameras, Praktica, then Canon, before I added other lenses beyond the 50/58mm standard. I guess I learnt to zoom with my feet!

      2. Yes, how many people these days have been brought up with cameras with a crazy zoom range and take it for granted that they just stand in one place, point at the subject than zoom until it fits the frame.

        It’s a pet hate of mine with members of my family who do this with phone cameras, and always end up heavily zooming in so the resultant pictures are of course 1. blurred because of the long focal length combined with smaller aperture therefore slower shutter speed, and 2. poor quality anyway, as virtually all camera phones with tiny lenses don’t work well when zoomed in.

        I got in a habit with my phone cam quite early on (I’ve had this one about 2.5 years). The widest focal length is 25mm equivalent, which is fine for landscape but for photographing people is way too distorted. So when I fire the camera up, I automatically zoom to 1.4x, still wide enough to keep the quality respectable, but far more normal looking for people shots (about 35mm equiv).

    1. Moby has been pretty diverse. I like some of his dancier stuff but I think his ambient work is my favourite.

      Do you mean Elizabeth Fraser, formerly of Cocteau Twins? She has an incredible voice, not just how it sounds, but what she does with it. So original.

  3. Moby, Bjork and Enya were on heavy rotation in my CD player in the late 80’s. Not so much these days. Last week I rediscovered Oasis.

    In the early days on the iPhone and iPad I was a frequent updater; a new model every 18 months. Not much anymore. With cameras I feel that mastery of the device only comes from long term use of one device.

    1. I remember back in perhaps 1992 NME gave away a free cassette (yes, that long ago!) with new music on, and tucked away was Oasis’s Cigarettes and Alcohol. I didn’t really like it (still don’t) but not too much later I heard Supersonic which was way more interesting and hinted at the kind of swagger and invincibility of some of The Stone Roses’ work. I got the debut album, and Supersonic, Live Forever and Slide Way especially were triumphant anthems to 19 year old me.

      Then they followed with Morning Glory which was pretty rubbish, and I lost interest!

      Anything Apple these days is so expensive. I used to be a huge fan, but my pockets aren’t deep enough to run with them, and haven’t been for years. Plus I think others have virtually caught up and perhaps surpassed them in some ways. Apple aren’t special and unique like they were 10 or 15 years ago.

      1. Apple sells ease of use, not technology. As someone who’s worked in IT for 30 years, I can see that this $1 trillion company is getting it right. The general public are willing to pay. Technology isn’t for nerds. It’s for all. I disagree that the rest have caught up. The proof is in Apple’s stock price.

      2. I agree that tech should be for all, absolutely. But for me, Apple just don’t have the magic they used to have (I’ve had Apple products since 1993), plus I think they’re more focused on being luxury, status items these days.

        My iPad should be a work of wonder, a magical device almost, but mostly it frustrates me. For anything other than pure reading and looking at photos, in other words anything where I need to interact, write, copy and paste etc, I reach for my Sony Android phone, which despite having a far more screen, just feels more intuitive, more responsive, more logical. And it shouldn’t be that way round!

      3. I think that magic you describe is from that early days of iPad, iPhone and Mac resurgence. But now, we’re used to the tech. It’s everywhere. We can’t keep expecting moonshots. I think it’s sad when musicians are expected to have one hit album after the other for the rest of their lives. That pressure can’t be healthy. And then when an album doesn’t sell as well, we say, they’ve lost their spark. But it’s only our expectations that are out of whack.

      4. Yeh I think that’s a good point, and yes what I meant was so much seemed revolutionary a few years back. I remember seeing the first iPad in a store and looking at Google Maps on it, using the pinch action to zoom in and out. It was almost magical.

        Now everyone has tech that the same kind of level of evolution, it’s just the norm.

        I think with me also I’m not a big fan of touchscreen generally. Even if it’s a very responsive one (my iPad is pretty decent in that dept) you still have to clean it every day to be able to see properly! Phones are even worse.

        I really don’t like typing on an on screen keypad, ugh. Someone I know wrote an edited a whole novel on on iPad, no extra keyboard, just the on screen one. This would be absolute torture to me!

        My Sony Xperia, which is generally excellent, has a movie editing app where you get a slider at the bottom to select the portion of film you want to edit, trim etc. I cannot for the life of me make my fingers move the ends of the sliders, and my seven year old who’s very dexterous and small for his age can’t either. Who’s it designed for?? Some things you just need a decent size keyboard or trackpad or mouse for!

        Re musicians, yes there’s very little patience and room for growth these days, like you say they’re expected to be hit machines. I think if you look in the right places there are still plenty of people doing their own quirky thing, and that’s become easier with the internet.

  4. My favorite female singer was always Lorena McKennitt…
    Photography-wise, I don’t go back. Once I sold my K20D and my K-r, that was it.
    Before that, it was the film point and shoot Olympus. Never going back to that either.
    But I guess I’ve come to a point where I’ve mostly stopped… I just need to make more use of what I have instead of wasting time looking into some shiny new thing… just had a little “photo break” with my K200D and Sigma 30 1.4, and I thought… what else really do I need?

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