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I started out photographing squirrels with the Fujifilm Finepix S2 Pro, shown above and used to take the next image. This would now be considered a vintage camera. You can pick up something like this now for less money than most film cameras. When new (2002) this camera cost me almost €2,000, but I picked it up again recently for around €50. This massive drop in price enabled me to pick up even older DSLRs like the original Nikon D1 (which I'll mention more later on), which is now 25 years old. Going back to this 2.4 megapixel APS-C sensor with 6.5 stops of dynamic range is on the tricky side today, but it's really fun to see how far things have come.

Sony A9 + Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG DN Art

This next image was taken on the Fujifilm Finepix S2 Pro. The lens was a Sigma 17-35mm f/2.8-4 (I couldn't afford the Nikon version) set to its widest angle here. In most cases, the image quality was absolutely atrocious, but for this close ups it worked pretty OK. The 6mp resolution of the S2 was probably the most it could cope with. Not having live-view back then I had to lay on the wet floor to get this shot and even then the eye is not in focus, but it was good enough to get published in a digital camera magazine back in the day.

Fujifilm Finepix S2 Pro + Sigma 17-35mm f/2.8-4

Today I almost exclusively use the rear screen to frame squirrels (if I can), so as to view them from their POV. Modern DSLRs have live-view so you can sometimes use the rear screen to frame your subject, but not many of them are tilt-able and almost none of them have animal eye auto focus. In that regard modern mirrorless cameras are simply light-years ahead of any DSLRs, thus would be my recommendation for any wannabe squirrel chasers today, if you can afford them.


Going back to older digital cameras. I have been really impressed with what many of them can still do. I think we get into that habit of believing a lot of the marketing hype around new digital cameras. This bakes in an assumption that older and older digital cameras are increasingly inferior, but this is often not the whole picture... no pun intended. I went back to the first purpose built digital camera, the Nikon D1 (1999), to see what it can capture with some friendly squirrels today...


Below is a photo taken on the Nikon D1 and a Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 AF-D lens. This might be a cheap camera to pick up now, but it used to be £5000 new and this lens is not exactly cheap, even today, but the capabilities of this 2.4 megapixel, quarter of a century old camera have surprised me!

This surprisingly fun camera started off my collection of retro digital cameras. Soon after I bought this one I ended buying the Kodak DCS 760, which is actually a couple of years newer, but is still super fun to use and relive some of the past.

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