A non-modelling, but definitely train related post, call it a bonus Tuesday Train about the tools I’ve used over the years to capture those pictures of trains. Having seen the post from Steve Boyko on his Traingeek.ca blog the other day about his history of cameras and railfanning, it inspired me to go through my own camera history. I have had plenty, and am kind of in the market for a new one (which I will get to eventually).
The first camera I used regularly was a Pentax SuperProgram 35mm SLR Camera. This was my dad’s camera, and I used it in high school and university for a bit, before I bought my first autofocus camera. My sister took it for a while, then, at some point in a bit of cleverness, I got it back from my parents and have hung onto it. It is now still my travelling companion when the mood to shoot black and white film takes me (usually when in the UK chasing steam if I’m honest).
Pentax SuperProgram and a shot taken with it at Carrog on the Llangollen Railway.
The first camera I bought myself was another Pentax, so I could in theory use the couple of lenses my dad owned and that I had from the SuperProgram. I bought this in the summer of 2000, when I was working in my first job in my field, a University of Waterloo Co-op position with the Town of Richmond Hill Parks department. I haven’t used this camera in years, but it was well used when I was using it. It is still somewhere in a tub in the closet of the layout room
A Pentax MZ-30 autofocus 35mm SLR and a shot of a de-powered CPR cab unit at Campbellville taken with it.
I bought my first digital camera in late 2002, a point and shoot Panasonic Lumix LC-20. This was a great little camera, ran on two rechargeable double A batteries, so as long as you could find AA’s you were never out of juice when out and about. I used it for a while. Didn’t do a lot of railfanning with it, but did some. This may even still be in a tub in the closet too!
Panasonic Lumix LC20 and at the time, Rail America 1400, now one of Ontario Southland’s famous FP9’s.
I upgraded in the summer of 2004, to a Panasonic Lumix FZ10 super zoom all in one. This was a gift to myself in advance of the first vacation I took as a working stiff in 2004, two whole weeks off work chasing and riding trains in the UK. My first visits to places I love to visit like the North Yorkshire Moors Railway and the Severn Valley Railway. This was a great camera for a lot of things I like, railfanning and sports. The 12x optical zoom made it a great “little” camera for travelling with. I say little, but it wasn’t that small!
Panasonic FZ10 and a shot of LNER/British Railways A4 Union of South Africa on the Severn Valley Railway.
Two years later, I upgraded to the newer version of the same camera, the FZ20. Better image sensor and stabilization than the FZ10 had. I used this camera for a couple of years until the desire to have a digital SLR finally overcame me.
Panasonic Lumix FZ20 and a CN freight at Bayview Junction (with BNSF Pumpkin and Santa Fe blue units)
As a Christmas present to myself in 2006, I bought my first DSLR, a Pentax K10D. I also splurged and didn’t buy the kit with the kinda crappy lens in it, but got the more expensive 16-45 f4.0 lens. This is still a lens I use all the time, and was my primary lens from 2006 to 2020 when I bought a 55-300 Pentax Telephoto with a built in focus motor to replace a 100-300 Sigma cheap lens I bought in 2002.
My first Digital SLR, a Pentax K10D and one of the first railway shots I took with it of the Goderich & Exeter in Kitchener.
My next camera, wasn’t even one I bought. My office was moving in 2007, and as we cleaned out years of debris, we found a Sony Mavica MVC-FD73, a 0.3megapixel digital camera that writes to 1.44″ floppy disks. My boss was going to throw it out, so I asked if I could take it. he said yes. I’ve used it a couple of times for laughs, but never seriously used it. I do however still have it, and the batteries will still hold a charge, so who knows what crazy mood may strike me.
My office was just going to throw this out in 2007 when we were moving offices. It was the offices first digital camera..unlimited storage on floppy disks.
The next camera in my collection was a small pocket camera, that I could take with me when I went out to parties, and to take to the roundhouse to take pictures of ongoing restoration work at the Toronto Railway Museum. This little camera served me well for several years as a pocket camera, and even got a little bit of railfanning use either while travelling to Montreal on the train, or from the museum at Union Station.
Fuji FinepixJ12, just an interim point and shoot I used mostly for shots at the Toronto Railway Museum doing restoration work. A shot during a lunch break of GO and VIA at Union Station.
By the end of 2008, I had put a ton of abuse on the K10D in only a couple of years, and I was noticing that the shutter and electronics were already going flakey, so I upgraded to the next generation K20D. Another Christmas present to myself, I got a lot more life out of this one, lasting until mid-2016!
My second DSLR, a Pentax K20D, a direct replacement for the K10D after I work out it’s shutter!
In late 2010, in advance of a trip to Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo on the Pacific Coast of Mexico, I was in the market for a replacement pocket camera. With the trip and knowing we would be using it in the pool and while snorkelling in the Pacific, I sought out a weather sealed and drop proof camera. The Pentax W90 fit the bill. This was a great little camera, and after the trip it gave years of use at the museum, and as a good camera for use when the SLR wasn’t appropriate to drag around.
Another interim point and shoot, weatherproof/waterproof, bought for snorkelling on the pacific coast of Mexico, and then used at the museum where dirt and crud couldn’t get in it.
By 2016, the K20D was showing some age, and I felt it was time for another upgrade. Cameras had advanced a lot, and it was time for another upgrade to my current SLR, a Pentax K-3II. I still use this camera for all my photography, It is rugged, fully weather sealed so rain and snow don’t effect the electronics as they can’t get in.
My current camera since 2016, a Pentax K-3II and a recent shot of CN racing downhill on the Halton Subdivision taken with it.
The last of my regular cameras is another point and shoot. I started using this camera to take pictures at concerts, as its small enough and point and shots are still allowed. I’ve been using the camera for going to football matches on trips to England as well, which is where most of the railfanning pictures taken with this camera happened, in London Underground and rail stations getting to stadiums.
Canon SX220IS. Nice little camera. It was my wife’s, started using it for Concerts, its now my Video Camera when I’m out chasing trains. Takes fine videos, but really needs replacing with a dedicated video camera as the batteries lose their ability to hold a charge.
I have for the past year or so as I’ve started taking more videos of the trains I am out watching, been looking for an actual dedicated video camera. I have been struggling with the dual debate of how much do I actually want this, vs. how much am I willing to spend. I haven’t come up with answers to either of these questions. I am certainly not by any means an excellent videographer, my videos are more record captures of what I see, but adding video to my activity has helped me with new motivation and focus on my setup when I am out, and looking for new angles on the action.
The last cameras on my list are my Cell Phones. Over the years I have had a variety of Nokia and later Apple iPhones with cameras in them. They certainly aren’t my regular use tools, but on transit to and from work, or as a quick capture if I’m out without my camera and see something, they are a an invaluable tool for a quick snap of something that would otherwise be missed. Frankly, most of the pictures on this blog of work in progress are taken with the iPhone these days, its always with me and has a great camera, quick snaps of work in progress as I go are a lot easier than having out a big bulky SLR while I’m working on the layout.
A TTC Streetcar from a Nokia 5310, freezing to grab a snap of a Loram Grinder in -too much outside Weyburn Saskatchewan during 2013 Grey Cup Week on an iPhone 5, and just a few weeks ago, a trackmobile being delivered in North Toronto on my current iPhone12.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my ramble through my camera gear. Before I am in the market for another camera body, I suspect I will be looking to upgrade lenses again. My much loved 16-45 f4.0 is showing some age, and my 50mm fixed has been abused within an inch of its admittedly cheap (its a super affordable Pentax lens the old 50mm I have). I have also at times considered a macro lens, though I am not sure I am willing to subject my models to the cruel eye of a macro! Since I am not sure what I want to upgrade first in my lens department, it is kind of just in limbo right now where every now and then I look at prices and decide to think about it some more!