… and new lenses too!
My new body is a Canon EOS 70D SLR. It’s not new-new – it’s new-to-me, 4-5 years old, and a hand-me-down from our daughter Becky (so perhaps a ‘hand-me-up’!) – who has moved on to the latest mirrorless Canon. I’ve been getting to know it over the past fortnight or so, and I can confidently say that it’s better than any camera I’ve had before – though comparing film with digital is perhaps unfair. Back in the mid 90s, the sophisticated controls of the 70D would have seemed less science fiction, more like science fantasy!
And yet back then, my Canon EOS 50e had a technology – control of auto-focus and depth-of-field by movement of the eyes, that was so far ahead of its time that Canon were unable to convince users that it was for real and actually did what was claimed of it : the technology never caught on and was later dropped from the product line. I absolutely loved using the 50e camera – so much so that I later bought a second body (pre-owned – it was when film SLRs first started to be usurped by digital SLRs and the former could be got dirt cheap) so that I had one for each of my two zoom lenses.
The writing was on the wall, however, and ultimately the film cameras were retired, and I found myself buying – pre-owned and already very outdated – a Canon EOS D30 with two zoom lenses (28-105mm and 100-300mm). This was Canon’s first proper digital SLR, and the very camera that had heralded the beginning of the end for the film SLRs. There were, however, shortcomings with this ‘new’ technology – principally the low resolution, poor sensitivity, and awful colouring (due to poor control of white balance) . No wonder, then, that in 2017 I sold out to the simplicity and flexibility of photography with my first smartphone!
The 70D banishes not only those specific problems, but also every other objection I’ve struggled with for 10 years or more of digital photography. It’s a great camera, technically, and a delight to use. But in truth the biggest improvement to the quality of photos has come with the two ‘new’ zoom lenses. As the 70D has a compact sensor, not full size, the lenses are both of the EF-S type, which gives advantages of weight, size and cost, though at the expense of flexibility – they can’t be used on bodies with the standard EF mount (not a problem for me). The quality of these lenses is good though. Both have image stabilization – the first time I’ve had this, and my goodness they really do make a differene! One of the lenses, the 17-55mm zoom (f-2.8 across the range, with USM focussing) is superb, and is well suited to indoor photography, urban environments, close-ups, portraits etc : that’s the lens that Becky gave to me with the 70D body. The other zoom lens I bought myself with the proceeds of selling – on eBay – the D30 and the two zoom lenses I’d used with it. (It astonishes me that I had buyers competing with eachother to spend a lot of money on photographic gear nearly 20 years old!) This has a focal range of 18-200mm (which is more like 30-320mm on a full-size sensor camera), f-3.5 to f-5.6 and non-USM focussing. Those of you with an understanding of photographic principles will no doubt understand that this is a lens I’m more likely to be using outdoors in good light.
Some of the images on recent posts were taken with this new gear, but from now on I’ll increasingly be leaving the smartphone in my pocket and enjoying working with the right tools for the job!