Camera Talk

(This only  for camera nuts. Others won’t be interested.) Can we talk?

My first was a Kodak Baby Brownie at age 12. First photo was of Puddles the hippopotamus at the SF Zoo. Next camera, from Uncle Walter, who had an Oakland camera shop, a Rolleicord (not Rollieflex), shot pix on 3-month Lambretta motor scooter trip through Europe. Next when I was in the Air Force in Germany (’58-’60), the secret service guys on our base let me use a little Leica fixed lens (35 mm I believe); the b&w’s I shot with it are so luminous. I was in charge of the base photo lab, so learned the techniques and developed and printed b&w for maybe 8 years.

Then in the ’60s a Nikon and Nikkormat (one with TRI-X, other with color slide film), both with fixed 50 or so mm lens — the photographer had to zoom by moving back and forth. Traveling in US, Canada, shooting pix for Shelter. Shot ’65 Bob Dylan concert Providence RI from stageside, Tri-X, some of my best photos ever.

Then the Olympus OM1 came along, half the weight of Nikons, a wonderful system and I ended up with about 7 lenses, 2-3 bodies. That was it for many years.

Then I got my first little digital point and shoot, a-ha.!

Then a Nikon digital camera (forget name) that shot raw, but was not intuitive-friendly. Then met one of my two camera salesmen-gurus at Adolph Gasser in SF and I ended up with a big Canon EOS that focussed on what you (your eyeball) was looking at. It worked, by golly, but I wasn’t sure I wanted electrons bouncing off my  right eyeball.

Next through 2nd guru, Gary at Keeble & Shuchat in Palo Alto (I prefer it to BH Photo in NYC), a ta-da — Cannon 20D — powerful workhorse of a camera, heavy, but oh-that-lack-of-shutter-lag instantness. I

 Dropped it on concrete twice — no prob. I got omit was like an extension, shot pix for Builders of Pacific Coast. Weight not an issue, had big camera bag w/lenses in truck.

Stuck with that for many years until Gary introduced me to the half-as-heavy Panasonic Lumix G1, which is my big boy camera now:

My other camera is the Canon PowerShot G-90 (now 95), my go-to, always-in-fannypack wonder camera. I use this most of the time.

Oh yeah, 2 others:

1. A Go-pro Helmet Hero sports HD video camera, beautifully designed system

2. A Sony Cybershot, something like the WX-9, but an earlier model. It shoots a seamless panorama. You pan across maybe 180 degrees, it shoots a film and outs it together as a landscape photo.

What prompted this, brother and sister photographers, was setting out this morning, for a change, with the Lumix, and feeling so much more “empowered” at shooting than with a pocket camera. If I do any real hunting I want to be looking through a lens, not at an LCD display, and have the features of a grown-up camera.

I dump all of them on the office MacPro or, if on the road, on my quite wonderful 11″ MacBook Air and then some onto blog.

I love prowling a city with camera.

About Lloyd Kahn

Lloyd Kahn started building his own home in the early '60s and went on to publish books showing homeowners how they could build their own homes with their own hands. He got his start in publishing by working as the shelter editor of the Whole Earth Catalog with Stewart Brand in the late '60s. He has since authored six highly-graphic books on homemade building, all of which are interrelated. The books, "The Shelter Library Of Building Books," include Shelter, Shelter II (1978), Home Work (2004), Builders of the Pacific Coast (2008), Tiny Homes (2012), and Tiny Homes on the Move (2014). Lloyd operates from Northern California studio built of recycled lumber, set in the midst of a vegetable garden, and hooked into the world via five Mac computers. You can check out videos (one with over 450,000 views) on Lloyd by doing a search on YouTube:

4 Responses to Camera Talk

  1. Love this post.

    I got my first camera at 14 so I could take pictures of my girlfriend. (Isn't there always a girl involved at these life-changing moments?)

    Like you, I love roaming a city with a camera. Especially Vienna.

    I shoot with a Canon G12. Kind of a compromise camera, but it's easy to carry and shoots HD video and is top of the line among the pocket cameras—-and with that oh-so-important, I-absolutely-MUST-have, flip-out viewfinder.

  2. Um, you mention going out with the G1 and "If I do any real hunting I want to be looking through a lens, not at an LCD display, and have the features of a grown-up camera".

    When looking through the viewfinder of the Lumix you are looking at an LCD display and not a mirror system through the lens. It's so good it fooled you:o) I love your blog Lloyd and recently pre-ordered your book. I can hardly wait.

  3. The thing that bugs me with the digital cameras is their lack of longevity. I started with a minolta X700 when I was 14 or 15(at least 25 years ago). I used that camera untill shooting film just didn't make much sense anymore (about 5 years ago). Since then I've had two point and shoots, an older Canon and an amazing Lumix LX5. I also have an older Rebel 350, but since getting the LX5, I don't need like it that much anymore.

    That Minolta still sits in its bag in my office, and the beautiful thing about it, is I know I can take a picture with it even if the battery is done. I only lose the light meter all other functionality will work.


  4. You may be interested in this new Lytro camera using a radical new technique of capturing visual data called "computational photography” which result in photos that are interactive to the viewer, very interesting.

    "The upshot is a photograph that’s less a slice of visual information than a cube, from which you can choose whichever layer would make the most pleasing two-dimensional image for printing and framing. But you can also leave the picture as it is—a three-dimensional capture suitable for digital display or distribution—and let others do the fiddling. Rather than a definitive, static image, a light-field visual object is intrinsically interactive."

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