My New Canon Doesn’t Fire Blanks

On Wednesday I finally cracked. I’ve been lusting after a new camera (preferably a fairly top-end Canon jobbie) for about three years now, but the desire eventually grew too strong for me and I had to get my wallet out.

Actually, several factors contributed to this. I think what really tipped the balance is that Mark & I have been asked to take some before and after shots for a new interior design company, sister company to Wimpole Holdings, and I really didn’t think my old Sony could hack it. I toyed with the idea of buying a decent and more affordable point-and-shoot which should get us through, but as my lust for a digital SLR has been so strong for so long, it seemed silly to throw money at a cheaper model when I would (hopefully) eventually be moving up to something better anyway.

The other reason, the one which has been grinding away at my resolve for years now, is that I am getting seriously pigged off with my Sony DSC-F505V, which I bought four years and which was old even at the time (I got it at a knock-down price as it was the last one in the shop, the box was open and the memory card was missing). I suppose you could say it’s served me well, I’ve produced a few lovely photos with it, and a hell of a lot of duff ones. I’ve posted many of my photos here, mainly in the life section of my website, and from time-to-time people have inflated my ego by saying nice things about them. They’ve even attracted a little commercial interest, I’ve made a seriously small amount of money by selling a couple of them on, and one of them was seriously under consideration for use on the cover of a design book which would have been sold, among other places, in the Tate Gallery shop. That would have been nice, being able to claim with some degree of truth that my photography is on display in the Tate Gallery, but sadly I fell at the final hurdle and a different style of cover was chosen.

But despite all the wonderful things my Sony and I have done together over these last four years, I have grown to hate it. Two major reasons turned me against it: firstly, it only has an LCD screen, which was always useless in the daytime and since becoming pretty badly scratched is not much use in the nighttime either. I’ve been longing for a camera with a viewfinder, which I can perhaps use to compose pictures rather than just aiming in the general direction and hoping that something nice comes out. And secondly, my Sony is so sloooooow, from pressing the button down to actually getting a picture takes about 4 seconds, twice that if I have to switch it on as well (which I usually do have to do, because the batteries don’t last very long, so I can’t leave it on standby just in case a decent picture happens along). As I have kids, and a lot of the pictures I take are of them, waiting 4 seconds or more for a picture is just not on, that cute smile can turn into a tantrum in a far shorter time than that.

Because of these various disappointments, and the fact that I feel I’ve progressed almost as far as I usefully can with such a hobbled camera, I have almost stopped taking pictures recently. As anyone who follows this site regularly (and there are one or two) knows, it’s been far, far too long since I updated the life section. Actually, I do have a few sets of photos from the last year or more waiting to go up there, but my interest in photography in general has waned just because I haven’t felt the same thrill about it, and haven’t been able to improve in the two areas I specifically want to address which are composition and spur-of-the-moment shots.

So, I decided to get a Canon EOS-20D (actually a decision made a year or two ago, but which I only allowed myself to pretend I could afford very recently), and after a few days of hunting around, I went to my local Jessops determined to buy a whole bunch of goodies (I also needed a tripod, as well as the various bits and pieces which are necessary when buying an SLR body, such as a lens, UV filter, memory card, etc) and to drive a hard bargain for the job lot, or at least get something thrown in for free. Nothing doing on that score, unfortunately. I haggled with the shop manager for an eternity, but doing so actually left me quite depressed. It seems they sell the camera bodies for next to nothing (he showed me the cost price of some of the stuff I was buying, and it seems they make a "profit" of under £5 on this £900 camera body, which can’t be enough even to cover their costs), in the hope that they can sell some accessories along with it. Most of the accessories don’t have a huge amount of profit built in either. I ended up quite depressed that high street retailers have had to cut margins back to the point where there’s no room for haggling, in order to compete with Internet sellers. I wasn’t even so bothered by the fact that I’d had to pay the quoted price on everything, as much as I was by the fact that I lost out on that great feeling you get when you feel that you’ve got something on the cheap.

I was doubly gutted because, after being told that everything I wanted was in stock and then going for a little walk to assess what I was about to let my credit card in for, I returned and was told they’d made a mistake – the lens they thought they’d had, the one I’d asked for, was actually a lesser spec version. This threw me into another quandry but in the end I bought camera body, tripod and memory card at Jessops, then came straight home and ordered my Sigma 18mm-50mm f2.8 EX lens and a UV filter. The next day was agony, as both had been dispatched separately and I had to go out at 1.30pm. The filter, which cameraking had posted to me, arrived just after midday, and the lens itself, UPSed from Sigma, got here a few minutes before I was due to leave. Fate was shining upon me.

So there you have it. I have a new camera (and, my god, it’s gorgeous), a new excuse to take lots of photos (almost 1000 taken already in the two days since I’ve had the camera), and hopefully a new lease of life.

Pictures, hopefully, to follow 🙂