Photography have been one of my interests for many year. When I was about 6 or 7, I inherited my grandfather's old camera. It used a film type called 120, which created square photos. The camera was extremely simple, it just had a mechanical lever with 3 settings, for "cloudy", "sunny" and "flash" (if I recall correctly). It used small magnesium flash bulbs, fired by a battery. The film was on rolls, and I had to load and unload in total darkness.
You can see the camera in the picture to the right. This picture was taken by my mom or dad, most probably in Hagenbeck's zoo outside Hamburg in Germany.
In 1984 I had managed to save up some German money. We were on our way down to Bavaria on a vacation, and we stopped in Lüneburg in northern Germany, probably for lunch. I found a camera store, and ended up buying my first real camera, a Yashica FX-3 single lens reflex (SLR) 35mm camera. If I remember it correctly, it did cost DM 185 or around there, with a 50mm fixed lens. Ten years later, in 1994 I bought a zoom lens from Sigma in Singapore while on a business trip. I still have this camera and the lenses.
About the same time, in 7th and 8th grade, we had 2 hours every other(?) Monday where we could choose any activity we wanted (within certain limits). Some people picked bowling, some did some other sport, but me and my best friend choose photography. We got to go shoot a film (black and white), then developed it ourselves in the darkroom in school, and finally made the prints. This was very interesting, and it was not until I already had started taking this photo class my dad told me he had been doing the same when he was younger. He even still had some of the equipment, even if he had not used it since the 60's. I guess the interest in photography runs in the family, several of my cousins are also into photography. My cousin Mats have been taking some really cool pictures using a telescope. His brother Tonny also have some good pictures on his site. Also check out his panorama pictures.
APS and First Generation Digital
I continued to use the Yashica until 1996, when Kodak and several other manufacturers introduced the new Advanced Photo System (APS) format. At that time I worked as a journalist and attended a press meeting where the APS format was presented. For test purposes I got a Kodak Advantix 4100ix, a camera that supported all 3 APS formats. After testing, Kodak told me to keep the camera, and I used this camera for a few years. In 1997 I got an Epson digital camera, with the enormous resolution of 640x480 pixels. I used both the digital camera and the APS camera, until I bought an Olympus D-490 Zoom 2.11 megapixel digital camera right when my son was born in 2000. After this I went 100% digital. One reason to choose Olympus was that I in the past, during my job as a journalist and test editor, had tested a large number of digital cameras from different manufacturers, and Olympus always had very good lenses as well as good cameras.
The Next Step
In 2006 I wanted to step up and get something a little bit better. After doing a lot of research, mainly at the website dpreview.com, i purchased a Sony DSC-H2 6 megapixel camera. It took excellent pictures, and I was very happy with it. A majority of my pictures are taken with this camera. The squirrel to the left was taken in 2007 with that camera.
The only issue was that the lens, a 12x optical zoom, was fixed. It also took a few seconds to get the camera ready for use, since the lens had to extend out.
I got some books on digital photography, and I could use most of the tips with the Sony, since it had plenty of settings and I could even take pictures fully manual.
In 2009 I decided it was time to go to the next step, and I started looking at DSLR cameras. After some lengthy research, I decided to go with the Nikon D90. I purchased just the body, and added a Tamron 18-270mm lens. I am still learning all the functionality of the camera, but it is very nice. 12 megapixels is good, but it is honestly really not a huge difference in picture quality between it and the Sony, unless zooming in very close. I hope to be able to buy some additional lenses soon. If you spend the money on a high-end DSLR like the D90, make sure you get a fast memory card. Sure, you can buy a 8 GB SD card for $24.95 at Best Buy or Radio Shack, but you will not get the full speed out of the camera. The D90 can take 4.5 pictures/second, and in order to get all that data to the memory card, I went with a 8 GB Sandisk Extreme III SDHC memory card. It can transfer 30 MB/s, as opposed to the cheaper cards that only can handle 4 MB/s (class 4) or 6 MB/s (class 6). It's worth the extra money.
In order to transfer my pictures to the computer, I use a program called Cam2PC. It has not been updated since 2007, but it still is the best program I found. I have still to find a replacement program that have the features I want/use, to a good price.
To process my pictures, I sometimes just use the built-in features of Cam2PC. Otherwise I use Photoshop CS2 or the free program GIMP. As I run Ubuntu as my main operating system, I mostly use GIMP. I also recommend the very competent freeware program IrfanView for graphics editing/resizing. To create panoramas, I use the free program AutoStitch. Read more on my page about Digital Photo Editing.