The SLR's are both Nikon FM2's. The FM2 is a fully manual SLR for professional or serious amateur. It has shutter speeds from 1 second down to 1/4000 second. It accepts the full range of Nikon interchangeable lenses. I prefer a fully manual camera because it lets me consciously make all the decisions. I always have to keep what I am trying to achieve in mind.
Prior to getting the FM2's, I carried Nikkormat FTN's. After 25 years, they had made too many trips to the beach and had to be retired.
I also carry a couple of additional lenses, usually a 24MM wide angle and an 85MM telephoto. The 24MM is a little wider than the 28-105MM zoom, and a little faster as well at f2.8. The 85MM is a little sharper than the zoom, and a lot faster at f1.8. On a gray day or at twilight, the two-stop difference is significant. I also carry a lightweight tripod for times when hand-holding isn't practical.
The 28-105mm and 70-300mm are both new in 2001. Before, I carried a Vivitar 70-150mm zoom along with the 24mm and 85mm. I also have 35mm and 200mm fixed focal length Nikkors and a Tokina 500mm "cat" (mirror). These are all well-used and have been with me fifteen years or more.
I've recently started to use a Minolta Dimage Scan Elite II film scanner. It has the capability to scan 35mm negatives at 2820 DPI resulting in an eight megapixel image. (At 24 bit color, that's a 33 megabyte file before compression.) For the web site I usually scan at 705 dpi, since the finished image is limited to about 380 or 400 pixels high. Film scanning seems to have a lot more potential for publishing or printing applications, but takes a lot more time and work. I'm not sure it's worth it for a web site.
Even more recently I upgraded from Photoshop LE to a full Photoshop 7.0. It's a great tool and I love it, but it has a dark side. The tool is so capable, and I have learned so much, that I spending a lot of time "perfecting" the color balance, contrast and saturation in an image.
If I were only shooting for the web site, it would be a different story. Most of the images on the site are around 400 pixels high, limited by the frame design. That's only 200,000 pixels. But I have higher ambitions. Someday, I'd like to use the shots for other things.
A three megapixel digital camera is more than adequate for 4" by 6" prints - maybe even 8" by 10" - but I can take a 35mm negative to 20" by 24". The highest resolution "Prosumer" digital cameras are about six megapixels and cost around $1000. My film scanner gives an eight megapixel file (A 4" by 6" print scanned at 600 dpi on a $50 scanner also gives an eight megapixel file.)
On a trip, we usually burn a couple of 36 exposure rolls a day and come home with around 500 images. At 18 megabytes per six megapixel image (in TIFF format), that would require nine gigabytes of storage. I'd have to carry a laptop with 10 GB of free disk space or 20 of the 512 MB Compact Flash cards to have that much storage. With memory cards running $100 apiece, thats pretty expensive. I already have the laptop, but it adds significantly to the luggage burden and is subject to damage or theft on a trip.
Copyright 2001, 2004 Harry B. Rowe