Who needs a ‘proper’ camera when you’ve got instagram on your phone?

If you have a mobile phone which is less than a few years old, you will no doubt have a pretty decent camera on it. I’ve just upgraded to the HTC One X, which comes with a 8 mega pixel camera. It’s has a 28mm lens, with it’s widest aperture being f/2.0. Which gives you some good flexibility for taking a range of shots in a number of conditions. If you’ve seen any photos taken on a phone recently, you will no doubt have been very impressed with their quality too. Add to this the range of specific photo apps you can now get, which allow you to add arty affects, and you might question why you would need to bother getting a proper camera.

The problem is, your phone, and Instagram style apps, are not very flexible. And whilst the photos on the phone itself, or on Facebook/Twitter, look decent, if you ever wanted to print them out and make large prints from them, they would look pretty poor very quickly.

There’s a good reason why the latest top of the range cameras from Canon and Nikon cost in the £5k region for just the body, and some long zoom lenses getting up to £10k, and that’s because they will produce the highest optical quality for any situation. You’d certainly question your wedding photographer if they just turned up with an iPhone loaded with Instagram.

8 mega pixels might sound like quite a lot, but it’s not just this number that equates to a good image. The sensor on which the camera captures the light, is also a crucial part, and on a phone, these sensors are still very limited. For example, in dark conditions, you will need to adjust (or at least the camera automatically does it for you) the sensitivity of the sensor to light. The benefit is that you can still take photos at night, or indoors, but the downside is that you will introduce a lot of ‘noise’ to the image, massively reducing the overall quality of the picture. You can see noise in an image when it looks ‘pixalated’, which is even more noticeable should you want to increase the size of the shot. Try taking a photo with your phone, in low light, and then printing it out at A3. I bet it looks awful. You might be thinking, “hang on, what about the flash?” and it’s fair to say of course that by using the flash you can increase the light in the picture meaning the sensor doesn’t have to be as sensitive, meaning less noise, and in theory a better quality picture. However, the flash on phones, whilst bright, are also very harsh, and often give ‘red-eye’ to anyone unfortunate enough to be standing in the way. A proper flash gun, or even studio lighting will win hands down, every time.

The old adage that the best camera is the one on you, is very true, and these days you will nearly always have your mobile phone on you, and therefore a fairly decent camera, but should you want to do anything more than just show your friends the photo on your phone, or share it on Facebook, you still need the proper equipment, and just as importantly, someone who knows how to use it.

Fujifilm Superia 200

Since I started using film, I’ve mainly been using the stock films from Boots. (still need to find out who makes these.) However, I’ve recently started trying out some different rolls, which is half the fun of shooting film right?

So yesterday I got the prints back of my first roll of Fujifilm Superia 200, which I shot with on my Canon EOS 1V.

Overall I’m really impressed with the colours, which in places show some good strong levels of saturation and a really sharp image. However the film also seems to be quite versatile as when the shot is devoid of many colours they come out with a nice soft feel.

It does seem to lose colour saturation though when the scene is very bright, but I guess this is not uncommon.

You can see some shots below.



Canon AE-1 Program

Being the age I am, I’ve grown up shooting with digital cameras. Recently though I fancied trying my hand at shooting on 35mm film, and I thought a nice way to do this would be to get an older camera. I didn’t want anything too vintage as I wanted some reliability and after not much research, I decided that I’d get a Canon AE-1 Program.

This was a mid range camera that Canon made in the late 80s and offered full manual control, plus a program mode where the camera set the aperture and shutter speed its self. To me, this sounded like just what I wanted.

I’ve taken a couple of rolls of film now and will shortly get them produced. If the results are any good I’ll upload some images here.

It’s been very different shooting on film as I’ve become accustomed to checking my shots on a digital immediately after taking them, so I have no idea what they will be like until I pick them up.

Oh the excitement!!

Photos of Birmingham Moor Street Station

I used to use Moor Street Station in Birmingham as part of my daily commute to and from work. It is by far the most aesthetic train station in Birmingham and has kept many of it’s original features and character.

On my way back from work one night, I had some time to wait for my train, so took some shots with my Canon AE-1 Program.

As it was really dark I swapped to my 50mm lens so that I could take advantage of the large f/1.8 aperture and get some much needed light onto the film, particularly as I don’t have a tripod.

There is a lot of grain in the images as I was shooting with a 200 ISO film, but I think, as often is the case, it just adds a nice feel to the images.

First Photos with the Canon AE-1 Program

Picked up my films last night of the first shots I’d taken on my AE-1 Program. I’ve not really shot with 35mm before so this was good fun, and I loved the anticipation of waiting to see what sorts of photos I’d taken; and the verdict? Well I’m happy.

Firstly it’s nice to see that the camera and lens actually work, as at times I thought the shutter sounded exceedingly slow. I love the colours which are quite soft, and perhaps with a nice hint of green. There’s also a really nice grain in some of the more darker shots, which I really like, as it gives the shot a real vintage feel.

The films I used were a couple of Jessop’s 200 ISO, and were 3 years past their best before date! Now that I know the camera and lens are in good working order, I’m going to get a few more interesting films, not least a nice B&W.

Anyway, I’ve embedded a few shots below, so let me know what you think.



Canon FD 75-200mm f/4.5 Lens

When I bought the Canon AE1-Program it came with a nice 28mm lens, but I still needed a telephoto and so found a 75-200mm on ebay. Well it arrived in the post over the weekend, and on first inspection it is still in really good condition. No marks on any of the glass, and really smooth operation. What I also liked about this lens was that it offers macro focusing as well, so you might see a few more photos added to the Macro Gallery.


Focal length: 75-200mm
Aperture ratio: 1:4.5
Lens construction: 8 groups, 11 elements
Coating: S. S. C. (super spectra coating)
Angles of view: Diagonal 32°11′- 12° Vertical: 18°11′ – 7° Horizontal: 27° – 10°
Distance scale: (m) 1.8 (Magnification 0.05X at 75mm, 0.13X at 200mm) to 20.OO (ft) 6 – 70.OO
Macro mechanism: Rotation of the zooming ring to the shortest focal length (75mm) and setting the macro ring to the macro range by pressing the macro conversion button. 0.55m (magnification 0.2X) – 1.8m
Focusing mechanism: Helicoid
Zooming: Push/Pull of a single Zoom Ring
Minimum aperture: f/32. A
Diaphragm: Automatic
Filter size: 52 mm
Hood: BT-52B
Cap: C-52 (CG2-0070)
Function: Auto Aperture, Full aperture metering (AE operation when used with ALL Canon automatic SLR cameras.
Length x max. diameter: 123 mm x 71mm
Weight: 510g