My camera upgrade journey & why I switched to mirrorless

2021, Interest

In writing this blog ‘My camera upgrade journey & why I switched to mirrorless’ it was like visiting old friends with happy memories attached.

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Super Colour 110

I have, in fact, in my mind, been a photographer from about the age of 9 when my Nanny bought me my 1st camera a SuperColor 110. No one escaped me snapping them on days out, our family dogs, friends and family.

Since then, cameras became a love of mine and (mostly) always in a Nikon form.


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Nikon FM2N Chrome


Getting to know cameras from the inside out


camera photographer technician farnham

I left school at 18 to go and work at Fixation in London. They are professional photographic technicians and have since expanded massively. Mike Allan & Paula Stevens the owners were family friends of my parents and along with Mick Edwards they trained and showed me how to repair cameras and become a little more technically minded which I found really tricky at first.  I found my favourite camera to repair. The Nikon FM2N. I could replace a shutter block or speed dial block with precision and care whilst calibrating it carefully and making it ready for the newspaper photographers to use the next day.


Perfect 18th Birthday Present?

farnham photographers first camera

Nikon F501

Personally, at this time I was using a Nikon F501. This was Nikon‘s first popular autofocus SLR for 35mm film, launched in 1986. It’s speeds were from 1s to 1/2000 with a battery-powered B mode. Flash sync is at a maximum of 1/125 a sec film speeds from 25 to 5000 ISO for DX coded film but can also be manually set from 12 to 3200 ISO. It used four AAA batteries with the MB-4 holder or with the MB-3 holder four AA.


Making fun cameras across the pond

I flew off to the USA  wanting some adventure and something different in my early 20’s. Heading off to work on a summer camp in New York state in the Catskill Mountains. They were beautiful and a perfect place for a kids camp that provided photography lessons. I spent the summer making pinhole cameras with the children and we had a little shack in the middle of a field as our darkroom and we made prints from them too. Here’s a You Tube video showing you how to do it. (This is a project I may take up again soon)

Camera Heaven

Upon my return, I went to work as a Camera Technician at Nikon head office in Ham, Kingston.

I was able here to try out all the different cameras at the weekends.  Perks of the job here were London Fashion Week, British Open Golf & Wimbledon too and when work was done we got to go off and photograph there too and practise along the way.

Back To School Cameras With Real Film

After Nikon and wanting to photograph now I was working for a school portrait company. I used a Nikon FM2N for single student portraits or with siblings and a Mamiya RB67 on a tripod for those traditional class photos outside on benches. Using film at this time meant that I posted the film each day in a lightproof bag back to head office for them to process.

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Mamiya RB67 Medium Format

Photographer In The Air

The most fun Summer job I had was with Cab Air photographing from helicopters. We would fly to schools around the country to educate kids about helicopters ( pre-arranged, we wouldn’t just fly in!)  We would photograph the school from the air and then land and take class photos with the teacher and pilot in them too. So circling above the schools and opening the little side window I would use a Mamiya RB67 to frame the whole school grounds in and usually all the kids were standing in the shape of the year. I think it was 2001 at the time. Upon landing and all the talking and fun over we would arrange classes in turn for their class photo for parents to buy.


Studio Time

Using flash in a studio setting made portraits simple. I was using a Mamiya RB67 one again with both colour and black and white medium format film. With an onsite developing lab, clients could see their images in a few hours. When the company progressed to digital we used a Fuji camera.


Baby Time

For me that is, as I took a break from photographing to have our girlies. By the time I went back to work photographing babies oh wow how the photographic world had moved on! So much to learn and I feel like I am still catching up now.

Working as a newborn photographer for a company for 4 years I used a Nikon D3100. All the settings on the camera, flash and lens were kept the same making everything as standard which gave even results every time.


Going It Alone & What Camera Did I Choose?

Taking the leap to start up my own business meant having one that I was used to and could reply on so I opted for a SLR Nikon D3000 .

I was already used to a similar one and didn’t want to have loads to learn whilst setting up by myself, photographing clients, getting to grips with Lightroom and Photoshop.

A few of the feautures:

Image size pixels: 3,872 x 2,592 [L], 2,896 x 1,944 [M], 1,936 x 1,296 [S]

Image sensor: 23.6 x 15.8 mm CCD sensor

Dust reduction system: Image Sensor Cleaning, Airflow Control System, Image Dust Off reference data

White balance: Auto, incandescent, fluorescent (7 types), direct sunlight, flash, cloudy, shade, preset manual, all except preset manual with fine turning.

Why Switch To Nikon Z6 Mirrorless?

Always being a Nikon girl and wanting not to change brands Nikon was still the only choice for me. People were raving about the new Sonys but if I’m honest I didn’t want to learn a whole new camera with new settings and features. During lockdown, I had the time to sit and learn and new Nikon camera and I am incredibly pleased with how sharp it is.  Not having a prism and mirrors (mirrorless) inside makes it more stable and quieter. You can shoot 4K film on it too which is great for adding snippets of my client’s sessions to their gallery.

Some of its features:

Pixels: 24.5 million

ISO: 100-51200

Video: 4K

Frames Per second: 12

Here are some images I have taken with it:

3 Top tips To Consider Before Upgrading Your Camera

  1.  Do you want to change brands? You will have a lot to learn so spare some time
  2.  Would a new lens replace your kit lens? Invest in a prime lens eg 50mm or 35mm-a F2.8 or F4 which will make a big difference in your images.
  3.  Check your cameras shutter count-150,000 is the average rated counted for mid-range and entry DSLR cameras-if it is over this then it may be time for an upgrade.


Thank you for reading this, it was a long one!

For more examples of my work with my new Z6 CLICK HERE

Lots of love



Newborn and Family Photographer Farnham




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