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05-31-2016, 04:31 PM - 12 Likes   #1
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A trip down memory lane with Pentax and a few others...

I was musing today how far I’ve come in photography since I first started taking pictures.

Interestingly, I was able to find some photos of the various cameras I’ve owned over the years, and arrange them in chronological order. In a way, this exercise down memory lane in reality has traced the history of photography to a large extent, from about 1949 to the present.

First, here’s a picture of me taken about 1949 with my very first camera. It was a real beauty; the famous Donald Duck Camera. Please excuse the fuzziness of the photo – my dad was then using a 1930s-vintage fold-out bellows Kodak.

Here’s some modern-day pictures, taken by others of that camera in some detail.

It used roll film, had a fixed lens, and you advanced the film until a new number showed in a round red-screened hole in the back of the camera.

In doing some research, I discovered that this little camera could be obtained from Sears, Roebuck from 1946 on for the grand sum of $2.98! Here’s an ad from that era:

Well, I used that camera for a while, but I was starting to get a lotta laughs from a lotta folks whenever I proudly showed it off. By 1953, I had become the owner of a REAL camera, a genuine Ansco Shur Shot box camera. To use, you held it against your belly for stability, framed your shot in a little window (there were 2, one for horizontal and one for vertical), and gently pressed the red shutter lever. The lens was fixed, as was the exposure. No control other than you had to have some daylight to take a picture.

Well, that camera served me for 5 or six years. It was my mainstay in high school, and I took lots of shots of my high school sweetheart with it. I had picked her out of the herd pretty early, and eventually she asked me to marry her!

My dad had been using an old Bolsey 35mm camera by that time, and then when he acquired a deluxe Leica IIIF for serious work, he let me use it. The Bolsey line was very active, as the founder, formerly from Russia, made cameras for our armed services. Here’s a picture of the B2 model that could use a flash unit. Everything was manual, but you could adjust the focus, the exposure time, and the aperture. Armed with that and a cheap exposure meter, I was in business with a much more sophisticated camera. I started to use it while in college.

Just for reference, here is picture of my dad’s Leica. He occasionally let me use it – it was state of the art in the mid- to late 1950s. It had 3 interchangeable lenses, a “wide angle” 35mm, a standard 50mm, and a “telephoto” 135mm. It had a gizmo on the top that you could aim it with. It was adjustable for parallax and for the specific lens used. Leica lenses were then renowned for clarity – and they still are today. When my dad passed in 1987, I inherited this camera and had it refurbished, as the silk screen shutter had developed some holes.

As a point of information, here’s something about the Leica company in Germany that you might not have known:

Well, that old Bolsey served me fairly well until the mid-1980s. I felt somewhat handicapped in that I didn’t have a single-lens reflex camera that allowed you to frame the picture through the camera’s lens. At K-Mart one day, they had a sale on the Pentax K1000. It wasn’t fancy, but it had interchangeable lens capability, and a built in “match the needle” light meter. It was manual everything, including focus, but it worked splendidly. It was my mainstay camera for years, and I really got serious about photography with it.

Around 2005, a revolution was taking place. Digital photography. I was a bit hesitant to take the jump, but I decided to buy an inexpensive Kodak point-and-shoot to experience this new technology in 2005. This was the Kodak CX6445 Zoom. It was capable of all of 4 megapixels (whatever they were). It produced .JPG-format photos and you could save them on a memory card. Initially, to process them into actual hold-in-your-hand photos, I took the memory card to the drug store and let them process them and put them on a compact disk for storage. I no longer have this camera, but here’s a picture of it, taken off the internet:

I soon discovered that I could process the images on my own computer with the proper software, and I really missed having a more sophisticated single lens reflex camera. That’s when my love affair with Pentax started – they were offering a relatively inexpensive digital SLR in 2007 that gave me a 50% jump in megapixels – six of them! Boy, I bought it in a flash – it was a return to the control of the old K-1000, but with the ease of digital technology. It came equipped with an 18-55mm zoom lens. Automatic focus, and either automatic or full manual control. Here is the K100D:

All things bear improvement, and Pentax came up with a new one in 2009. TWELVE megapixels, and faster everything. The lenses I had for all my older Pentax cameras would fit and work – why not? Enter the K200D. I gave my K100D to a granddaughter who was getting interested in photography, and it’s served her well. My 200D became my new workhorse as I retired and became a freelance writer/photographer. Here it is:

Technology marches on. In August of 2011, my wife and I celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary with a two-week trip to Hawaii. The new Pentax K-5 had just come on stream, with an amazing 16 megapixels – It had features I was itching to use on the trip, and believe me, I think I photographed everything in Hawaii with it. I had a new 18-135 zoom lens that was moisture resistant, as was the camera. Perfect for Hawaii, and I did not have to change lenses for the whole trip. Marvelous. The K-5 was indeed state-of-the-art in 2011, and I reveled in using it.

In 2013, Pentax introduced the 24 megapixel K-3, which became the new company flagship. It was a dream, and enabled me to do things photographically I could never do before. The older K-5 quickly became my backup camera. Here’s the K-3, with so many features I can’t address them here without writing a book.

So now I’m completely happy with my equipment. The K-3 and seven lenses to accomplish everything I could imagine photographically.

But Pentax has just introduced the K-1 full-frame digital SLR as its new flagship – it has 36 megapixels! Think of the HUGE pictures I could generate with that…

Ah well. I think I’ll take a breather before I take that jump. It’s been fun to review all the cameras I’ve used over the years, from Donald Duck to hell-for-leather Pentax digital SLRs.


Last edited by PALADIN85020; 05-31-2016 at 04:38 PM.
05-31-2016, 04:45 PM   #2
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Thank you very much for sharing, John. Great post.
05-31-2016, 05:11 PM   #3

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Wonderful trip down memory lane and thank you for inviting us along. I bought a 1952 Leica 11f with an older Leitz Elmar F 3.5 50mm, back in 1982. Still works and looks similar to your dad's old camera.

Thanks for the memories.
05-31-2016, 05:38 PM   #4
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Thanks so much for sharing!

05-31-2016, 08:39 PM   #5
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Thank you, for sharing your memories, it was a great trip. Enjoyed it all!
05-31-2016, 09:04 PM   #6
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I didn't know about that intervention of Leica in history. I wished to get a Leica CL 35 mm film compact rangefinder camera as a backup to my Pentax film gear. But first, reality bit me and then, the 'new normal' did a number on my economy. C'est la vie.
06-01-2016, 01:46 AM   #7

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I wish they'd make a k-1000D APSC camera with a provision for a battery grip. Requirements would be better noise control at high ISOs and of course better AF. By the way D is for digital. I still like the way old cameras look in the 80s.
06-05-2016, 05:40 PM   #8
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Thanks for sharing. Really enjoyed it. Made me think of the wonderful mechanical cameras I grew up with.


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