I use a rather lovely Canon EOS1n with an even more lovely 24-105 red ring lens. The lens is a delight and for the sort of work I do it has made all others I own redundant. I remember only too well lugging a 70-210 around India for weeks and not bloody using it as the smaller never left the camera ; well I won’t be doing that again. The EOS1n is a serious tool and although 20 years old utterly reliable and tough as old boots.
Here’s the thing though. The 1n has so much that I never use. It is awash with exposure modes, focus modes and handling modes. It has a fist full of custom functions. I have set one custom function as I felt guilty not using any, but in truth I still don’t use it. That isn’t to say that it is a pointless camera or that it is a bad camera, it is one of photography’s great cameras but do I (we) really need so much bobbins on board? Of course compared to it’s modern digital counterpart it is a miracle of understated engineering.
Henry Ford when alerted to a part problem by a member of staff is reputed to have said “Simplify it and make it cheaper”
So that got me thinking. I started out in photography with the mighty Pentax K1000 with a 50mm f2 lens that was, and is, a true great. I recall adding a 135mm lens for portraits but pretty much the 50mm was all I had or wanted. I am now many years later settled into a specific style that I love and I am seriously considering buying a classic manual camera and returning to the simple joy of joyous simplicity. The other wonder of old skool is the feel of a beautifully made solid metal bit of kit that is engineered to within an inch of its life and yet still a quarter of the weight of my EOS1n. Oh modern digital cameras are pretty much faultless and produce gorgeous images but there ain’t a lot of metal in there. Like the custom car boys say, steel is real. They also say glass is class so horses for courses.
Now then these days I’m a Canon man, a man with a Canon if you will. Going classic and sticking with Canon means only one camera really the AE1 program. Canon’s masterpiece. You can set an AE1P to A on the lens and P on the body, load and shoot. It will expose 36 negs perfectly, and I do mean perfectly, while most modern cameras are pissing you off because they don’t like the focus point. Other canons from this era (late 70s-early 80s) were if I’m being honest a bit awkward, but the AE1P had just the right amount of usable features and utter ease of use to make it a classic. They sold a kazillion. I had one but only much later as I couldn’t afford it when it came out.
The Pentax K1000 is still a superstar (obviously I think the early metal ones are the best) but I confess I do want just a couple of user features these days. This baby you load a film, centre the light meter needle and shoot, er that’s pretty much the instruction manual covered. Camera manuals today makes a print edition of The Oxford Dictionary look like light reading.
And so that leaves the king of 70′s-80s cameras, Nikon. Pro’s didn’t touch Canon’s until the EOS system was introduced at which point they came across in their droves.
I really fancy a Nikon FE with a a truly exceptional 50mm f1.2, f1.4 or f1.8 lens. Even better if I can source one for a nice price the sweet little f2.5 35mm.
The thing is if you’re a Canon man then hankering after a Nikon is the photography equivalent of checking out your wifes sister.
So will my EOS1n who I have no intention of dumping find out I have been ogling a cheeky little Nikon. Well she can take solace in the fact that the Nikon is at least an older model.