Ode to “vintage digital”

My dad was my point of entry into photography. Growing up around him and his cameras, watching him do his thing, it was all pretty mysterious to me up until high school. I don’t know exactly why I suddenly became so interested in photography, but when I was 16, I went to him. Knowing him to be a hoarder of all things photo, I asked if he had a camera I could take with me on my high school band trip to Washington D.C. He said yes, and he actually seemed kind of happy that his kid was about to inherit his hobby.

He gave me a Canon Digital Rebel and a Super Takumar 55mm f1.8 with an adapter. That’s the very first digital Rebel camera Canon ever made, and an M42 lens that came with his Pentax Honeywell that he bought when he went to college.

And that’s what I started with.

I shot the whole trip at f1.8 (mistake, but bokeh is like photographic cocaine to a 16 year old), manually focusing and dealing with the slow interface and loading screens and not really knowing exactly what I was doing. I had picked up an idea of how exposure worked and good composition from the internet, but this was something more about just taking pleasure out of the experience of using a camera. I was photographing fearlessly, carelessly, and having a swell time doing it with a clunky, slow, wonderful piece of kit. I made it work. It was a blast.

I eventually worked through that summer and bought a T2i. But I never forgot about the old Rebel. When I had to send in my T2i for a hot shoe repair, guess what I pulled out of my closet. I still use the Takumar all the time, and I even dug up even more of Dad’s old M42 glass because I love it so much. 

So I’d like to dedicate this post to anyone using “shitty gear.” To people who revel in process, and how it changes our behavior and our work. To people who believe in just making the most of what you’ve got, and the inherent value of doing it for shits and giggles.

Using Format