Getting Started with Digital
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, digital photography was starting to take off. I had played with some early digital cameras like the Apple Quicktake 100, and a few Kodak and Casio digital cameras here and there, but I didn’t get my first digital camera until I graduated college – the Kodak DC3400.
The DC3400 was your typical turn of the century digital point and shoot. It was fairly large for a small sensor compact camera. It had a very limited zoom range of 38-76mm equivalent. It had a fairly typical for the day 2.0 megapixel sensor and shot JPEG only. Feature rich it was not. The rear screen was super tiny, it focused slowly and the dynamic range was pretty terrible compared to modern cameras, but it still took fairly decent images. I took to it immediately.
The DC3400 was the first camera I owned where I started caring about the results from a photographic standpoint. I would experiment, trying out different compositions, techniques, and so on. I was limited in a lot of things, as the DC3400 had no manual control at all, but I really enjoyed it. Most of the photos I took with that camera were pretty bad, especially by my current standards, but even by most standards. With that said, as is often the case with new photographers, even a blind squirrel finds a nut now and again, and as I took more and more images, as one would expect, I’d get those occasional good images. None of the images I took with the DC3400 would rank among my top images today, but that camera really began the spark that would grow into my photographic passion. Below is a small sample of some images I took with it, starting with some of my first shots with it, and ending with some of my early images after moving to Europe in 2002. I’m still proud of a few of these images, and the Eiffel Tower shot still hangs in my bedroom.
By 2004, I had caught the photography bug. Living in Europe, I had the ability to travel to a huge variety of places and I wanted to capture it all. After deploying for the Iraq war for four months in early 2004, I bought a camera that would finally give me a bit of manual control: The Canon A75.
When I got the A75, I was still trying to convince myself that I didn’t need to spend lots of money on a DSLR and lenses – I was fine with just learning a bit more about the photographic process. The A75 allowed me to do that, as it featured all the standard exposure modes, including full manual and aperture and shutter priority. Given the small digicam sensor, the changing of aperture had limited effect, but it was still a great learning tool. The image quality was also a notable step up from my DC3400, with a 3.2MP sensor and a wider zoom range.
I used the A75 for several trips in 2004, including trips to Amsterdam, a second trip to Paris, and a trip to Salzburg, Austria and a few sites near there in southeast Germany. The A75 was a good little camera, but I found I wanted even more. Below is a sample of images:
I only shot with the A75 as my primary camera for about four months. By then I was hooked on photography and knew I needed to get a proper camera. I continued to use the A75 for a while as a pocket camera, but dove fully into the craft when I got my first DSLR.
Continue: Photography as a passion