The Yashica FX-3 was a fully manual camera with none of the snazzy features that you see in present-day cameras. Focusing was manual and so was the metering. You had to decide what aperture/shutter speed combination to use and a very simple 3-LED system gave you basic feedback whether your picture was likely to be under-exposed or over-exposed. It was an ideal camera for picking up the basics of SLR photography.
“The smaller the aperture, the larger the depth-of-field, which means more things within the frame will be in focus,” says Ram, “ideal for landscapes.”
“Err...umm,” I say brightly.
“But if you want only the subject to be in focus and the immediate background to be deliberately hazy, what aperture will you choose?”
“Err...umm,” I hedge my bets.
“Correct. You will choose a larger aperture, say a F4 or a F5.6,” Ram goes on relentlessly, oblivious to the fact that his dim-witted pupil was having a hard time catching up with all this gushing gyan. “Now let us take shutter speed...”
Ram was a good teacher and I was never to forget the basics of photography that he drilled into me in that hotel room in Orchard Road in Singapore. The FX-3 was also to remain with me for over 15 years, ever reliable, letting me down not even once. Finally what did give away was not the optics, but the leatherette exterior cladding which started disintegrating and coming off in my hands. That was when I sadly made the decision to retire the old faithful.
In my more nostalgic moments, I still think of that first SLR--the aperture ring that clicked into position so perfectly; the tiny shutter-speed dial that one learned over time to manipulate with the thumb and forefinger; the reassuring whirr and click when the focal plane shutter came down and the entire camera seemed to shudder within your grip.
They don’t make cameras like that anymore and this, I state with due apologies to the Olympus E-510.