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My Canon EOS 20D is now five years old, and still going strong after well over 20000 photos. If we just look at the purchase price of the camera alone this works out at maybe £0.05 per shot which sounds like a pretty good deal. Obviously I’ve since spent a good deal of money on lenses and a few other bits and bobs though so including them in the calculation, this averages out to £0.15 so far – still pretty cheap. It’s these kind of numbers that explain the explosion in digital photography in the last half decade.

And as a camera the 20D performs brilliantly. It feels just right in my hand and I personally find the control layout perfect. It has almost everything I would want if I was buying a replacement, the only exceptions being spot metering and a larger modern LCD. In fact when I inevitably have to buy a replacement I will be slightly resentful that I will doubtless be paying for a whole load of video capability that I’m just not interested in, and a few extra mega-pixels that I just won’t need. The 20D is 8.2 Mp and I have made an 80cm print from it that looks pretty good; 15Mp (as in the current 50D model) therefore seems a little over the top.

The 20D has been crucial to my development as a photographer over the last few years. Firstly it revived my interest in photography after a long period of neglect. I then followed what I think is the usual practice for new DSLR owners, and took far too many photographs whenever I went anywhere with the camera. It’s easy to mock this sort of behaviour, but I actually think it’s valuable in some ways. Spending a lot of time going through all these images seeing what worked, what didn’t – looking at them critically in other words – helps to understand the limits of the camera, and teaches you how to process the RAW files into images worthy of display.

Speaking for myself here, it helped get my brain back into the habit of thinking visually again, and as it did, I found myself taking fewer and fewer shots, and the “hit rate” increased. It was around this point that things got serious and I realised I’d fallen properly in love with photography again, and out came the film again. Now if you’d told me when I bought the 20D that in five years time I’d be shooting more film than ever, you would have got a very raised eyebrow. However, the 20D has fired me up to explore as many aspects of photography as possible, from homemade pinhole cameras to medium format beasts like the Bronica. Along the way I think I’ve produced some pretty good photographs that never would have happened without it.

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