Yashica-D TLR Camera
In 1962, at the age of 15, I bought my first “Big Boy” camera. I was a recent winner in Kodak’s National High School Photography Contest, and I used my winnings to buy this camera. That was 54-years ago, and I’ve gone through a few cameras since then. It still surprises me that I was able to capture a winning image, a neighbor’s Persian cat perched in the fork of a tree trunk, with a simple Brownie point & shoot (120 black & white film camera).
This new beautiful TLR actually allowed me to set aperture, shutter-speed and manually focus. I mean we’re talking state-of-the-art here. Compare this to the simplest smart-phone today, and it is absolutely prehistoric. It was built like a tank, like all cameras back in those days, and gave me many wonderful years of service. I kept it in virtually mint condition, and it’s now part of my permanent collection (being looked after by my daughter while I travel the world).
Like my Nikons, Leicas and Rolleiflexes, this camera would still take excellent pictures if you had the time and patience. The 120 film produces square format images, of 2-1/4 x 2-1/4 inches, and would provide a Ba-zillion mega pixels if scanned. Some photographers are going back to film and scanning their negatives for post-processing in Photoshop, I don’t see the point. I have totally embraced digital technology and I wouldn’t backtrack for the world.
It’s fun to look back on the film days, I learned a lot, but film photography (for the most part) was: cumbersome, time-consuming, tedious and brutally expensive. Today’s photographers have complete creative control, at a relatively modest cost, and total flexibility. The quality of digital images is now so improved as to rival or surpass even the best films on the market. Cameras seem expensive, but when you adjust the old camera prices for inflation, you will find the prices haven’t changed all that much relative to income.
The original Nikon F retailed for about $300 USD when it first hit the market in the early 1960s, and Leicas and Rolleiflexes were only a bit pricier. In today’s dollars those prices would translate to about $3,000 to $4,000 USD. If you’re opting for a pro-level Canon SLR like the: 5D Mark III, 5D Mark IV, 1Dx or 1Dx Mark II you are going to be in that price range. Photography isn’t cheap by any means, but at least we’re not adding on the price of film and lab processing these days (not to mention the time involved).
I’ve snapped shutters for over 60-years now (professionally for the last 7-years), and I will tell you flat-out this is the best time for photographers. Nostalgia is great, and can be fun, but any experienced photographer will tell you this digital age is the best. Immediate, one hundred percent total creative control. Ansel Adams is eating his heart out in heaven. Mr. Innovator missed the digital revolution entirely; he would have thrived in this new environment. And what creations he would have come up with.
Stephen F. Dennstedt
Photographer, Writer and World Traveler