Ordinance EF mm fL USM Field Test Amateur Photographer

“Cameras come and cameras go u2013 although in my case, they donu2019t. You see, my house has become a bit of an elephantu2019s graveyard for used kit. Here, it seems, old cameras come to die. And so a cluttered collection litters my home.
Imagine a huge bag has been stuffed beyond bursting point, scattering its photographic shrapnel far and wide. Now you have a picture of chez Blackmore. Peeling Hasselblad XPan cameras jockey for space with scuffed Kodak DCS 520 doorstops, icky sweat-stained body armour and a veritable iron u2018chickenu2019s nestu2019 of lighting stands.
All of which is a long-winded way of saying that, by nature, I am not a tidy person. When I was but a tiny spa
er in the well-oiled machine that is a picture desk, the state of my little slice of heaven was a source of constant a
oyance to many a picture editor. I never summoned up the courage to quote Albert Einstein, u2018If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?u2019
So it may come as a bit of a surprise if I tell you Iu2019m anally retentive over the contents and packing of my camera bag. There is a place for everything, and everything must be in its place. It takes me days. I pack, unpack and repack. What case shall I use? How many, and what, lenses can I take? What bodies are best suited? Do I need body armour? What clothing do I pack? What underpants are required u2013 cotton or Aertex? Decisions, decisions.
To help, I have a laminated plastic packing sheet, cobbled from a list the Army once provided. And as I pack, I tick off each item as it goes in the bag u2013 sad or what?
More a lens man than a camera body man when it comes to kit, Iu2019m not that fussy and Iu2019ll use whatever camera comes my way. I have, and still occasionally use, a pair of hand-me-down original Canon EOS-1Ds. Yes, they are old and by todayu2019s standards the file size is minuscule, but they cost me a not-so-small fortune and I canu2019t bear to see them fetch the price of a packet of crisps on eBay. Bruised and battered they may be, but they have been all around the world. Never one to dwell on my images that much, they make perfect reminders of the things Iu2019ve seen and done u2013 of a life I never, ever imagined Iu2019d have.
I still canu2019t believe the smorgasbord of experiences Iu2019ve devoured. Almost paying for my house, and until recently providing a slightly-more-than-living wage, itu2019s also made me a multi-millionaire in thrills. And while these may not pay the bills, they do help me rationalise that the sacrifices have been worth it. Experiences that, for some, would provide a lifetime of scintillating after-di
er conversation are becoming but dim memories. Each overwritten by the last exciting exploit, Iu2019m no more accomplished or lucky than my peers, but I am fortunate enough to realise that itu2019s the nature of this profession, that in adventures it makes us wealthy beyond our wildest dreams.
Boxing Day tsunami
Anyway, letu2019s get back to my geriatric EOS-1D models. To say they were gas-guzzlers was an understatement. Packing issues were caused not so much by the physical size of the cameras, but by the number of batteries needed to sustain a dayu2019s shooting. Itu2019s all very well topping up batteries after a quick grip and grin at Downing Street, but a very different matter asking the patrol leader while in Afghanistan if he or the village elder knows where there is a three-pin 240-volt power supply you can use for half an hour to give the batteries a quick charge. Mind you, forget the cameras u2013 there have been some times on assignment when I could have done with having my batteries recharged.
One such incident occurred when I was in Sri Lanka shooting with the subject of this piece, my Canon EF 17-35mm f/2.8L USM. Apologies, I agree itu2019s a bit nebulous, but bear with me. Iu2019d been sent to the island by Metro to cover the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami. One morning Iu2019d been feeling a bit odd. I huffed and puffed my way along the beach, accompanied by profuse sweating and strange sensations of detachment. I put these feelings down to emotion u2013 it being the scene of the tsunami, where as many as 1,700 people were estimated to have lost their lives. Iu2019d assumed that, and my walk in the midday sun, was making me feel queasy.”

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