Since getting back into railway photography I have used a few digital cameras.  I restarted the hobby in possession of a Fuji Finepix E550, which did the trick to start with.  Best way to describe it now would be a personal camera.  It was small enough to fit in a coat pocket, and by all accounts it did what I asked it to, which wasn’t much.  Take pictures of wagons, take pictures of moving trains but at the same time don’t expect alot with the results.

Life came to an abrupt end for the E550 when I was at London Euston on the 26th January 2007 taking images for of the naming of the Metronet branded class 66/7s.  I had just finished shooting the 66s and was moving the camera to take a shot of a 90 in the central storage road when the camera and tripod parted company.  The lens was extended at the time and when it hit the ground it was smashed.  Goodbye camera.

I had been looking at getting a newer camera anyways and a swift shopping trip due to planned photographic trips ended up with me purchasing the Fuji Finepix S9600.  I loved the idea of this camera.   A hybrid DSLR, cheaper than a proper DSLR but with a lens that would do everything I required without the hassle of changing lenses over, ergo no dust getting on sensors.  Its size meant it felt like a proper camera in the hands.  The winning factor for me with the camera was the ability to shoot images using the live-view option through the rear screen.  The other bonus of the rear screen was its ability to tilt.  So you could shoot like an old box brownie or hold the camera up high over a fence and still see what you were pointing at.  Perfect when wagon hunting at yards where Network Rail have a habit of putting some damn awkward fences in the way.

At the start of 2011 I decided I wanted a better camera than the 9600.  The downside of the 9600 was its low light capability.  Once the clouds started rolling in the image quality went down if you went above 100 ISO.  For general shots this would not have been a problem but when shooting wagons you want to be able to read the data panel so you can identify what you have shot.   Plus, at work I get the chance to see a fair amount of freight at night and wanted the chance to shoot it.  In June 2011 I decided to purchase the Nikon D5100.  Along with this I purchased the Tamron 18-270mm lens.  I went for this option as it covers the full focal range for what I should need.  I started off shooting through the live-view screen but found the focus just wasn’t quick enough.  Don’t get me wrong, it is quick but with a new camera came the chance for me to get new shots.  My initial shots reflect the slightly fuzzy nature of the autofocus via live-view.  The other good thing about the D5100 is its ability to fire off shots at 4 frames per second, I can fire off 100 shots before the buffer on the camera decides it has had enough.  This is more than adequate for most high speed freight services in the UK.  I classify 2011 as learning to use the 5100.  One thing I was impressed with was its low light capability.  This more than proved itself when I had the chance to shoot a railgrinder at work ZWA-L Loram C21 Set 02:

ZWA-L Loram C21 Set 02, DR79247 at Rugby on the 31st October 2011

ZWA-L Loram C21 Set 02, DR79247 at Rugby on the 31st October 2011

Compare the above shot taken with the D5100 (JPG-Fine) with one below taken with the Fuji 9600

ZWA-N - Loram Schweerbau SPML 15, DR79200 at Rugby on 2nd September 2010

ZWA-N - Loram Schweerbau SPML 15, DR79200 at Rugby on 2nd September 2010

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