40 years of gear……..

I've owned a few brands over 40 years...

1976 Zenit EM - I really wanted a Canon FTbn like a cool teacher I knew who had one, but all I could get as a birthday present was the Zenit. Used the hell out of it and learnt photography.

London in the 1970s.

1981 Canon AE1 - with FL 28/50/135 bottom end lenses. Funded from a summer job, I really wanted the AT1 with a 50mm f1.4, but got persuaded by a salesman to go for the AE1. Big mistake. The shutter priority AE put me off a lot (lack of control over DOF) and I didn't like the lens quality. Sold it after less than a year.

1983 Olympus OM10 50mm f1.8 - on a super cheap deal in a Cambridge camera shop that I could even just about afford as a student (those were the days eh?). Added a Zuiko 28mm f2.8 and 85-250mm f5 in 1984 with summer jobs.

1984 Olympus OM1 black (used). I was going backpacking round Kenya for 8 weeks and wanted something totally reliable so I sold the OM10 and bought a very very well used OM1 with lots of brass showing.

Tanzania in 1986

1987 added an OM2n also used, and upgraded to a 50 f1.4. 

Used this kit till 2001. Many many rolls of film, but it had been badly stored, abused and was battered and the 50 1.4 had fungus.


2001 Sony F707. Very poor and too expensive. I should have just got my OM kit serviced.

2004 Nikon D70 with kit lens - an affordable DSLR. Got me back into serious photography again. Thanks Nikon :smile: Having by now a well-paid job I went on a fairly rapid cycle chasing digital quality... Hold tight!

2005 Nikon D2X with a 'trinity' of AF zooms and some primes.

2007 Olympus E400, E3, Olympus 4/3 zooms. Had got a bit tired of lugging the Nikon stuff round in a backpack..... Also bought a couple of OM film bodies (OM2, OM4) and some lenses for nostalgia.

Slowing Down in Greece

2008 Nikon D3. Full frame! Decided it was worth lugging stuff round for FF. Also compounded by Olympus AF failures in low light and my E3 falling apart.... Sold everything for the D3 and a 24-70 f2.8. Had a bit of shuffling around to reduce weight and used the D3 with a 28mm f1.4 and 85mm f1.4 AFD for a while. Loved the results, but hated the size of the camera..... usual story, especially how obtrusive it was on the street. I started getting much more serious about my street photography, in a way I hadn't been since the late 1970s, so….

A walk in Athina

2010 Leica M9, 35mm f1.4, 75mm f2.

2012 Added an M Monochrom, and a 21mm f1.4.

New York 2012

San Francisco 2013

2015 Sony RX1 (used) and A7R. Had tired a bit of the rangefinder experience, having to find the right diopters to use, having developed a slight astigmatism making the rangefinder a bit hit and miss and having the cameras go back to Leica to be recalibrated just because I'd been a bit heavy handed (and just how much money I had tied up in the system)..... I bought a used RX1 to try it out. Loved its simplicity and results. Added the A7R while on a trip to Japan. Too cheap to pass up trying. Sold all the Leica gear and put the money into a flat move/refurbishment.

Wave Gotik Treffen Leipzig 2015

2016 Experimenting with lenses on the A7R. Initially just a 55mm f2 Zeiss and couldn't find anything I liked otherwise. Too expensive, too big, too harsh bokeh.... Then I got a Novoflex adaptor to try my OM Zuiko 85mm f2 and 24mm f2 lenses (from 2007)- WOW......

2017 FILM AGAIN - full circle

Olympus OM4Ti, OM3, OM3Ti . These have halved in price since I last looked in 2007 and I've also managed to get a couple of sought after Zuikos by waiting and watching (18mm f3.5, 40mm f2, 21 mm f2, 100 mm f2). I'm shooting Tri-X again and getting it scanned and planning to go back to the darkroom (a local public lab) at Xmas.

i still use the A7R when I want digital, but solely with the Zuikos. RX1 if I'm travelling for work and can only take something small.

London street photography / Tri-X

Brand loyalty? Maybe to Olympus OM, so more system loyalty.....In 2001 there was NO WAY I could have afforded an OM4/3Ti, but I'm enjoying using film again rather than processing my digital images to look like film.... Its the aesthetic and the beautifully made gear. I think the Sony A7 series is probably now a mature digital FF platform with no need to upgrade. It does what I need, which is simply act as a small box for my lenses when a project suits digital rather than film (i.e colour or needing a quick turn-round). No plans on upgrading the Sony and will be shooting mostly film this winter.

Urban materialism and street photography

Earlier this month I spent 3 days on an urban materialism workshop led by Rut Blees Luxemburg as part of Urban Photo Festival. Rut works slowly in large format film, characteristically with a ‘distorted’ colour palette from using daylight film at night in the city. 

The workshop has made me think a lot about my own work, which has predominatly been in B&W. I’m not going to suddenly abandon my Leica Monochrom, but I can see a place for colour when it is part of the intent. An example is the series ‘urban materialism’ where I was using my Olympus m43 kit in the City of London at night. Its still more of a street/documentary approach, but I’m thinking of the colours and textures more.

© Brendan Delaney 2013