A Pause Then a Solution

Perhaps the reality behind any project and however detailed the initial planning is that as it starts and rolls along, it will quickly and inevitably take on a life of it’s own. Issues not thought of at the beginning will raise their heads and require a rethink and solutions to be found before further progress can be made.

Having spent some years working as a project manager I am very familiar with this pattern and back then, had long included allowances during the planning phase for this happening on any project that I was involved with. Having been retired for some years, I was quite amused to realise that this was happening on my own little project that this website is part of – it is deja vu – all over again !

The Book

A quick recap on where I am at: This website is a kind of scratch pad where I lay out my current thinking as I go along and log my little photographic projects and experiments. In parallel I am working on a book about camera development over the past 50 years using Canon as the brand because I own examples of their kit from this period but in reality the same technical story is applicable to most brands over that time period. Finally as I build up a body of work, I intend to make a series of short films the content of which should evolve from what I’m currently doing.

So having relaunched this site in August 2021, I have moved on to creating content for “the book” which is a bit of a chicken and egg thing because I want it to be illustrated but the images need to work with the text so which comes first ? Actually it’s fun because I’m using photographs as placeholders and before I ever get to ‘styling’ the content, I get to see how particular images lead to changes in the text and vice versa or how you can present the information better. Often it is only by laying things down even roughly you can see what works and what doesn’t.

The Content

I’m treating the content in a similar way to editing a film where lots of footage is never used in the final product and ends up on the ‘cutting room’ floor. It follows from this that early on I realised that writing this book in a linear fashion, start at page 1 and progress a chapter at a time until ‘the end’ just wasn’t going to work, it needed to be approached in a more modular way focusing on one thing at a time in isolation and leaving harmonizing the thing into a logical whole to a later stage. Not being a ‘time served’ author it seemed obvious to me from outset that this was always going to be an iterative process besides which I don’t know at this stage how I will use the finished material, one single book, several books, who knows ?

It follows that the obvious way to start was to focus on one particular camera at a time and look at what technical problems the camera designers were trying to solve with what they did. Obviously there would be links between one generation of camera and earlier/later designs so there is an overarching theme to be tracked and a historical timeline that they fit into to follow.

It was whilst writing on a particular control layout on a late 1980s 35mm model which has been carried over on certain high end models to this day that I realised that I had no experience of this in modern digital cameras and therefore why this should be so. The ‘feature’ was a logical solution when first introduced but why is it still relevant today ? It is not that I want to be some kind of expert in such things but I do need to feel that I know what I’m talking about if I write that it was a ‘technical’ rather than a ‘marketing’ decision that lay behind retaining it.

The Very Last…

The very last thing I wanted to do at this moment in time was to acquire yet another camera body besides which and as mentioned above, this feature only appears on high end, professional and expensive cameras like the Canon 1D series which remain expensive even second hand. As an example, a 1DX which was launched in 2012 will still sell for around £1,300 in the second hand market and there is no way I was going to spend that amount of cash on what may prove to just be a bit of a photographic ‘prop’ for this book project that ends up as a paperweight.

However there have been quite a few models in the 1D series since it’s launch in November 2001 and given that it is ‘consumer lust’ that keeps prices high, there would have to be a model where you get the most bang for your bucks in terms of feature set but at a reasonably low price. I found that model, it was the 2007 1D MkIII and with the shipping costs it came in at a more reasonable £250 which was fine with me, I could live with that. Out of interest I looked up what this camera cost when it was launched in 2007, just over £3,000 apparently so quite a bargain !

The Camera

It is of the generation that had a menu with rather Spartan text style graphics like my 9G and 450D and it doesn’t do video in any form whatsoever. I have never been that sure that any DSLR body really qualifies as an ideal physical format for shooting video and in the case of the 1D series which weigh twice as much as the average DSLR and are built like tanks, especially so ! The video or lack thereof will not bother me at all on this camera.

Although it is only a 10mpx camera in terms of resolution, it does shoot at 10fps so it could be a lot of fun to use on photographing wildlife as well as give me the answer to my original question of “Why this control layout ?” It will certainly be interesting to compare the shooting experience between my 7D MkII (launched 2014) which also shoots at 10fps but has double the resolution at 20mpx. The autofocus systems will be very different, the more recent camera being very sophisticated in comparison to this earlier generation but we shall see what that difference amounts to in real world situations.

I bought it online from a second hand dealer I have used many times before, the eye piece rubber looked in a poor state from the photographs so I ordered a replacement from Ebay – £4.50, downloaded the manual in PDF format and the last firmware update from 2013 from the Canon UK website so all set to go. On top of this I have sourced a replacement battery should that be needed and dug out some earlier and slower CF and SD memory cards from my cupboards. I don’t know what card capacity the camera will recognise, it would be great fun if it could handle newer and faster high capacity ones but we shall see.

In conclusion, I really didn’t want to buy yet another camera body but at least this is a genuine new experience for me, also looked at realistically and providing it works alright (I have a warranty with it if it doesn’t), what other really interesting camera body could you get for this price today ?