Recently I’ve found myself coming back to some older things I’m familiar with.
Partly perhaps as a natural reaction to the endless stream of changes made necessary by 15 months and counting in some form of lockdown due to a global pandemic.
And perhaps partly just because I really enjoy these things I’ve returned to.
Here are three of them.
2008 Apple MacBook Pro
Whilst I’ve been mostly using a Chromebook for online reading and writing for the last eighteen months or so (my daughter’s, then my own), I hadn’t quite made the transition on the photography front.
That is to say, when I used any digital camera that wasn’t my phone, I plugged the SD card into the MacBook to download and backup the photos, not the Chromebook.
This was because I have a back up system that just works and didn’t need changing, plus the MacBook has a 250GB solid state drive which I store stuff on, vastly more than the Chromebook’s 32GB.
The Chromebooks are very much designed to be lightweight mobile internet devices, not heavyweight machines at all in terms of processing or storage, so it’s not a criticism or failing of the Chromebook.
Also, the screen on the MacBook remains absolutely lovely, despite being ancient in digital terms now, 13 years old.
Again, the Chromebook is a much simpler, cheaper device, and the screen is fine for general online stuff, but not if you want to enjoy your photographs in their fully glory.
Sometimes I hook the Chromebook up to my 27″ screen as I wrote about before, but this is in a different room, where my makeshift day job home office is, and not somewhere I generally want to spend my evenings too.
So in the main living room, either at the dining table or my lap on the sofa, the MacBook makes the far superior option for viewing and editing my photos.
Another factor is the aspect ratio of the screen. The MacBook is a 15″ 1440×900, a ratio of 1.6, which is very close to the 3:2 of 35mm film, and my DSLRs, and not far off the 4:3 of old school monitors and TVs I grew up with, not to mention nearly all digital compact cameras.
Put another way, viewing full screen, the images fill the vast majority of it.
The Chromebook is 1366×768 which is 1.77, and far more widescreen, the same as 16:9. Brilliant if you’re shooting in that ratio, but with the 3:2 and 4:3 images I shoot, you’re using far less of the available screen, compared with viewing on the MacBook.
So whilst on paper there is only one inch between the Chromebook’s 14″ and the MacBook’s 15″ screens, in reality with these aspect ratios you see the images significantly bigger on the MacBook. And in vastly superior definition.
The keyboard, trackpad, and just general quality of the MacBook is light years ahead of the Chromebook and just much more pleasant to use too.
Which is why I’m using it more than I’ve done in over a year.
Samsung GX-1S DSLR
I’ve picked the Samsung as it’s the one I’m using currently, but in fact any of my three old Pentax CCD DSLRs would fit equally here – the Samsung branded GX-1S, the Pentax K100D or Pentax K-m. They’re very similar in function and of course use the exact same lenses.
From around October last year, I’ve not used anything but my phone or the Lumix FZ38, so something like eight months with one camera plus phone.
It just felt time to get back to a CCD DSLR, for the greater control, lovely colours, and lens options, not least of all the range of M42 lenses I have gathered over the last nine years or so. More on those in a moment.
The Lumix is great, as are the handful of other digital compacts I have, but slowing down and coming back to a DSLR is both exciting and comforting.
Which is why these seem like the only cameras I want to use right now.
As I just mentioned above, this is one of the major appeals of returning to using the DSLRs.
I’m very happy using a more modern AF lens like the fantastic little Pentax DA 35/2.4, or stepping back a little in time to the manual focus but auto aperture Pentax-A 50/1.7, which I greatly prefer over its DA 50/1.8 successor.
The slower, more manual method of using these lenses, their general feel and build quality, and feeling like you’ve given new life to lenses that have been making photographs for longer than you’ve been alive in many cases, makes shooting M42 a special experience, and one I’m always happy to return to.
How about you? What have you returned to in recent months, and why?
Please share your thoughts 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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