Buying My Second DSLR

The Rise, fall and rehabilitation of my love of photography and all things camera.
By Malcolm Bennie
(Appears on


It was an overcast day when I bought my OM-10 but that didn’t matter. The world was bursting with images waiting to be put on film and I was young enough to think it was the first time anyone had been there to capture it!

This was my first SLR camera and I really loved the weight, the texture and even the smell. If you love cameras, you know what I mean. I was also getting into the whole F-stop, shutter speed thing having been using my dad’s old Agfa where you had to judge the distance to target – yes, JUDGE! No in-camera stuff there. That Agfa was wonderful and for the most part easy to get things right when you put your mind to it. I used to love capturing the majesty and contrast of clouds. This seems odd but I miss those simpler days.

With the new Olympus – and manual adapter – I felt I was playing in the big league and running towards fame! Er, well, maybe just learning a bit more, being inventive and enjoying everything all over again. I read Amateur Photographer and I’d have joined the local camera club if I hadn’t been warned there was more politics there than in government! Some people always want to be in charge, I guess.

Anyway, after a while the age of electronics and computers caught up with 35mm film and my world lost its stabilisation just as the DSLRs bounded in with theirs. For some years I tried to ignore it in the same way that I thought CDs would never replace vinyl but then I gave in and… started buying compacts. I know, I know – I felt a traitor to the cause but, damn it, they’re so easy to use! Other life changes didn’t help I suppose. Time isn’t as easy to come by when your world becomes full of work, drinking and holidays with girlfriends.

So the years went by and my OM10 sobbed in its padded bag beside the neglected lenses. In a flurry of compact resentment I rushed out one day and bought a Sony A200 to get back to the SLR community. There should have been fireworks and parades but instead there was a single setting called ‘auto’ and images that, though they were better quality than the pocket camera, actually just fogged the reason for having an SLR by allowing me to take higher quality images without thinking about the settings.

I started to complain that there was something wrong with the camera. There was also something wrong with the technology and the menu and…. well, you get the picture even though I didn’t. I’d lost my compositional-mojo. All the fiddly menus and confusing addition of ISO ranges that you can change at the touch of a button – this wasn’t the good old days, it was a convoluted nightmare. I felt left behind and told myself that unless I bashed my head against Photoshop that I might as well leave depth of field to the luck of the on-board computer.

So where am I now? Well, interestingly I’m about to buy either the Canon 700D or Nikon D5200. What changed my mind? Difficult to say but factors include my busting the big zoom lens on my Sony and getting sand in the other lens and even some spots on the mirror – sorry, the sensor. All sorts of little things that make me want to chuck it but to be honest, I’m fed up with the photos I’m taking and want to get back on the fully manual path I used to love. The path I tried to find with the Sony but was put off.

And you know what? This time it’s going to be different. This time I’m going to be in charge! This time there will be no ‘auto’ setting or ‘meh’ style photos! YOU HEAR ME, AGFA?? I’M COMING BACK TO YOU! I WANT TO CAPTURE THE CLOUDS AGAIN!!


About Simon Trail

I'm just another film watcher with an opinion.
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