• Michael Hadfield Photography


I am Michael Hadfield and I’ve been taking pictures since I was about 14. I’ve enjoyed using a variety of film cameras. I started off with a German box camera that was my Dad’s. This took 120 film and I think produced 6x8cm negatives so I started off where I ended up years later – with a medium format camera. Then I borrowed my Mum’s Kodak Brownie, still sticking with 120 but smaller negs. Then I bought my own very first camera. A Boots Bierette 35mm, that had a focusing lens and aperture and shutter control, and cost me around £4. Not only that but I got to take 36 pictures on a roll of film instead of 8. I was in heaven. And then it got stolen when I was on a college field trip, So I was camera-less for a while.

Then for my 21st birthday I treated myself to an SLR. By this time I was an avid reader of every photographic magazine going so I knew that an SLR had to be my next purchase, The idea of being able to swap lenses was mind-blowing. My magnificent SLR purchase – a Zenit B for £19 from Dixons in Plymouth.

This was actually, despite its low cost, a really good camera. Good range of shutter speeds and an f2.8 lens. That served me for many years, until in 1977 I decided it was time for an upgrade and I saved up all my ‘pocket money’ and settled on an Asahi Pentax KM. Not sure why I wanted it, but I’d always hankered after a Pentax. Anyway, these cameras seemed to be much in demand because I couldn’t get hold of one. So I started looking around for an alternative.

That’s when I discovered Canon.

Canon had a camera called an AT-1 for around the same price, much better featured than the KM, and it was available so I settled for that. And I’ve been pretty much using Canon gear ever since. Several years later Canon announced a camera it was calling the T90. The minute I saw it’s weird bulbous, plasticky looking body I fell in love with it. I had to have one. I still maintain this is the best camera I have ever owned. This was the camera that shifted me from amateur to making money from my photographs.

Then, with my desire for my photographs to appear in glossy magazines I invested in a medium format Mamiya ZX. Fantastic camera, interchangeable backs, bellows focusing, heavy – really looks the business. Has to be used with a tripod. The only drawback was that I was back to 120 film and just 10 exposures. This meant that my extravagant use of film had to be reined in. This camera imporved my photographic abilities no end. Simply because it was heavy and needed a tripod, I had to explore subjects before I set it up. It wasn’t a case of just holding it up to your eye because the Mamiya has a viewfinder that you look down into and has to be flipped open before you can do that even. So photographic life slowed and I learned to see the image in my mind’s eye before getting the camera out and unloading the tripod from its bag. Just 10 shots a roll meant really getting to grips with understanding exposure. When the shutter was released the exposure had to be correct and using my favourite Fuji Velvia slide film there was no room to manoeuvre. Print film gives a little exposure leeway. Slide film does not. I had great fun with that camera and even managed a few magazine covers with shots taken with it.

But then came the great digital invasion. I hung on and hung on to film, but then one day a friend let me borrow a little 2megapixel fuji compact camera with a tiny little viewscreen on the back and no way to control anything at all and I loved it. The pictures on my computer were good and so I invested in my own Sony compact that had an extra million pixels and almost no control.

A year later I was so frustrated with the lack of control that I just had to get something better. Digital SLRs were running at about £2000 at this time, but someone invented bridge cameras. Looks like an SLR, has all the functions of an SLR, but you can’t remove the lens. I thought that’s for me and got myself a Konica Dimage Z1. Had fun with this one too, 7x optical zoom, proper dials and buttons to change shutter and aperture – rather than rooting around through menus. That kept me busy for a while, until the vew screen developed a fault which was something to do with Sony not manufacturing them properly. Anyway by this time I was getting ticked off with the low resolution electronic viewscreen and longing for a clear optical viewfinder and since digital SLRs had become inexpensive enough for me to feel it was worth the investment I stuck with my trusted Canon – because it still seemed to give more features per pound – and invested in a Canon 400D. Lovely camera that I still use when I want to take something small and light out with me.

Then finally I shifted to a Canon 40D which I feel is in the same class as the T90 and coupled with the Canon 70-200 f2.8 L zoom lens produces absolutely first class images.


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