I have had a camera for 50 years, starting with a Kodak Brownie 125 in 1962, a plastic box which took black and white photographs using spool film that was pre-35 mm. Processing the film to produce a slightly fuzzy postcard size picture was expensive and you tried not to waste your twelve frames, but often did. The cost to the global environment of the paper, chemicals and other materials that resulted from our long term love affair with cameras must have been huge; whilst the results languish in albums in the loft, or have long since disappeared into landfill.
The Lumix DMC-G5 that I bought this summer is another universe, and I believe that it may show the way to the future, leaving behind even digital SLR cameras. Here we have an affordable camera with superb lenses, incredible technology that helps us all to become decent photographers, no film and much lighter than anything else on the market of similar quality and flexibility. This advantage of size and weight is absolutely key to my choice of camera, and always has been. My final film camera was the Olympus OM-2, which was also small and light, and had great lenses and, for it’s time, great technology. It was small enough to take it with me travelling around the world and walking in remote hills and I took some lovely photographs, but could never have imagined what I can do now with my G5.
About the same time as I got my first camera, I started cross-country running and hill walking and also started biology at my grammar school, and these also became essential parts of my daily life. Most of my photographs are landscapes or natural history, and I have taken them whilst roaming the world. I like to travel light, and refuse to consider camera kit that is bulky and weighs me down: I do have a tripod, but seldom use it and almost never carry it.
The reason that I bought a G1 in 2009 was that I needed a camera to take with me on my walk from Lands End to John O’Groats, which I did to celebrate my sixtieth birthday. On the way, I (and my companion, John) were raising money for a new children’s hospice in Cornwall, and in order to do so, I was going to write a blog and tweet to raise interest. Good images were an essential part of this, but I was already carrying clothes, tent, sleeping bag, small notepad computer and a guitar. OK, so the guitar was unusual, but it did help raise more funds through singing in pubs en route.
So the camera had to be high quality, light and portable, and I wanted a long lens: I don’t ask for much. I was looking at digital SLR’s, but they all were too bulky and long lenses out of the question. I was introduced to the G1 in a camera department in the West End of London, and walked out with the camera and a 45-200mm zoom lens, the combined weight of which was less than most DSLR’s and which would fit into a large bum-bag that tend to wear when walking. We covered 1,250 miles on foot in 51 days (work it out – we didn’t slouch!), and the camera fulfilled all of my needs and more, and it has continued to do so since. (The images taken in Scotland can be viewed at http://www.doug-kennedy.com/photographs).
Since my return, I have spent many joyful hours, walking and running through the Chiltern and Buckinghamshire countryside near my home, exploring the possibilities of this camera and taking images that have appeared on websites and in publications. This has culminated in a book that is being published in October 2012 called Chiltern Landscapes, which explores the hills through the seasons. The reason for investing time and money in this venture is because so many people have loved the images, and it is the camera that has made it possible.
My G1 is very worn, and I found it too slow to take distant moving subjects such as birds in flight, so I started looking at DSLR’s again. My problem was that, as well as being very expensive, they were huge and very very heavy: a medium DSLR body with a 250mm zoom lens weighed well over a kilogram! Then I was introduced to the Lumix DMC-G5, and have found again that it answers all of the questions. It is a big advance on the G1 technologically, much faster and huge definition, and the 300mm zoom lens is amazing (and very small and light). I can take bracketed shots along with RAW files with astonishing speed and the super-high definition means that even quite distant subjects can be readily blown up with great clarity.
So I now walk and run with the G5 and the 300mm lens in my bum bag, and am looking forward to producing many amazing photographs as the seasons roll by.
(Copyright Doug Kennedy 2012)