Over the years John has enjoyed working with many cameras, and his thirty years as a journalist in the photographic press gave him the opportunity to try many of them before buying! He finally went fully digital in 2008, and his current cameras of choice are a Canon 5D MkIII - his 'little' camera - and a Contax 645 coupled with the superb quality Phase One P45+ digital back and a range of lenses. The combination produces image files of awesome size and quality.

Before getting the Contax, John travelled light for a few years, using Fuji's remarkable GA645W on many of his travels. It was light and relatively inconspicuous - great when baggage weight is an issue - and fitted with a superb wideangle lens. It is seen here around John's neck at Bellapais Abbey in Northern Cyprus while recreating John Thomson's Victorian journey to Cyprus for the Great Photographic Journeys project.

The nice people at Hasselblad allowed John to spend some considerable time getting to know, and working with, their H1 kit - state of the art at the time. This picture was taken in the grounds of the Taj Mahal in Agra in 2003. A lot of the pictures for the Great Photographic Journeys project were taken with this superb instrument. In the 1970s and 80s he had worked with a range of Hasselblad cameras - the 500C/M, the 2000FC, and the amazing Superwide C, but even so, the capability of the H1 was quite a revelation.

In the 1980s, John was asked to review the new Fujifilm GX680 - and got hold of the first one in the country. He bought it after only a few weeks of putting it through its paces. It was big and bulky, but had all the camera movements usually associated with his large format Arca sheet film camera. For more than a decade, the 680 with its massive rollfilm frame size met his every need.

The photographer as a young man - photography can be a cruel reminder of the passage of time. John's first quality medium format camera was a Minolta Autocord in 1964 with its wonderful sliding focus bar along the bottom - great when using the camera one-handed while holding a big flash gun with the other – as he did when photographing the leading pop groups of the 1960s, including the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. He replaced that with the Zenza Bronica S2a in 1968, and along with a Nikon F, it stayed with him until he got his first Hasselblad in 1975.

John has often been asked what his very first camera was – well here it is, an Agfa Isola 1, bought in 1958. It was really only a glorified 120 film box camera, but was designed to look like a 'real' camera, and that, for a 12-year old, was a good enough reason to buy it. New, it cost £4.16s – in those days an amount which involved saving several weeks of pocket money.


The Victorian Photographs of Dr. Thomas Keith and John Forbes White is now available from John Hannavy Publishing price £20.00 + P&P. 

To order a copy, use the Contacts page.


Published by PiXZ/Halsgrove in October 2017, price £9.99, is  Edwardian Railways in Postcards a celebration both of the railways themselves and of the art of the postcard photographers, colourists and publishers. Click on the book cover, below to log on to where you can see all of John Hannavy's currently available books. 

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All images and text © John Hannavy