Snow Leopard, image created on November 16, 2003 at the Zurich Zoo with Canon EOS 300D and Sigma 50-500mm f/4-6.3 EX HSM at 500mm. ISO 400, f/6.3, 1/125s, Evaluative metering.
I recently wrote an opinion piece about equipment and I wanted to illustrate it with an old image done with simpler camera equipment. I’ve found what I wanted within a collection of images from the zooh! (The Zurich Zoo in Switzerland) and it made me look back at very old images…
Back in 2003 I started digital photography with a 4MP compact camera which lasted 4 months, replaced by a 5MP bridge camera which lasted 3 months, before I finally bought a Canon EOS 300D, the first affordable DSLR and the very reason I am still using Canon today. It had limitations, with its 9-points AF not very accurate nor very effective in low light, a rather dark viewfinder, 2.5fps in continuous mode with a 4-frames buffer, a 6MP sensor which noise was creeping already at 400 ISO.
It was a great camera in its days, delivering very good image quality with its CMOS technology at a time when Nikon was struggling with the older CCD technology, which they kept for many years until turning too to CMOS, and being the first Canon camera with the EF-S mount opening the way to new lenses specifically designed for APS format sensor and showing Canon’s commitment to the APS format when everyone was predicting the APS format to be replaced by full frame in the next couple of years (it effectively took more than 5 years until full frame became affordable).
Looking back at my images, I realise that the number of keepers was quite low and many images which satisfied me at the time do not cut it anymore and I must admit more due to the operator than the equipment. Still there are quite a few I like from that time, and as I started early on to shoot my image in RAW I have the capability to apply modern editing techniques which were not available at the time, leading to very pleasing results.
Back then I was roaming the Zurich zoo, brining my growing collection of lenses, built around the need of faster lenses for the darker areas of the zoo and longer lenses for small and far animals, not unlike what most wildlife photographers go through. This is also when I invested in my first Canon L-lenses, a Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L (non-IS) and a Canon EF 300mm f/4L IS, which effectively locked me in the Canon system.
These images have been processed using basic exposure optimisation in Aperture and more extensive photoshop edits, using Nik tools (Color Efex and Dfine) on selected area of the images, and enhancing the eyes for impact. With images limited to 6.2MP I’ve limited crop to a minimum only when necessary.
I’d love to read your comments and whether you’d like to share similar experience of post processing old images with current technologies.