I have been taking pictures since I was around 10 years old when I had a Brownie 127 for a birthday. That’s over 60 years ago.
Even back then, with this basic camera, I had to have the clip on close up lens adapter. None of those pictures still exist, my mother had a penchant for slinging stuff out you see. All of my clockwork Hornby trains, track, signal boxes etc went the same way. But that’s another story.
After a pretty long hiatus, I took up photography again in my early 20’s when I bought a German single lens reflex camera. And so it went on until the present day. One camera after another, foolishly thinking the camera was what produced the picture. Yes, it made the image but the picture is made in the head.
Many years, many cameras and many thousands of £’s later I had full Nikon digital professional cameras – yes 2, a range of lenses, flashguns etc. You name it I had it. And then I woke up. I started to whittle down my camera gear. I sold all my working gear*. (rationalising, going backwards).
*I have many old film cameras which I collect because I like the feel of them. These remain but are unused.
I bought a German range-finder, well 2 actually, and a few lenses. And then again a couple of years back I sold one of those and a lens. The one that remains I hardly use and, despite having 2 lenses, I never swap them (rationalising, going backwards).
I was further reduced to a German autofocus mirrorless. One camera, one lens being the guiding principle (rationalising, going backwards).
These days to shoot on a regular basis I use a very small pocket sized ‘point and shoot’ tourist type camera. btw. This camera costs less than a handgrip accessory for my German mirrorless, consequently, I don’t insure it. Another saving (rationalising, going backwards).
So What? I hear you say. As consumers, we are induced to buy, buy, buy and I fell for it in a big way. During my awakening, I realised carrying a big SLR and assorted lenses is a real bind. It’s awkward, clumsy and heavy.
Yes, this is fine if you are professional with a defined job to shoot. But for me, just an ordinary chap, walking the streets of say, Cambodia, why would I need that?
- What am I going to do with the pictures?
- Do I need gigga – megga pixels?
- Am I going to blow up my images to fit on the side of a London Bus?
Gear chasing is a marketing ploy, one which is the lure for the camera envy amateurs. “Mines bigger than yours” type of thing.
Sensor technology today is such that even relatively cheap and cheerful cameras deliver images easily capable of printing up to a large size, even for exhibition prints.
The whole point of this ramble is to show in many ways I’m walking backwards. I have a mechanical watch, I use a fountain pen, and I use a snapshot camera. I’m constantly de-spec-ing back to what I use as opposed to what somebody wants to sell me. I’m going backwards in photography hopefully to a point where I was more concerned with the pictures, not the gear.
Maybe I can get back to where my picture spoke more about content…
- To a point where being razor sharp is not essential.
- To a point where I can produce the sort of pictures I did 40 years ago.
- To a point where any talk about gear is irrelevant.
Or maybe I’ll just die trying.
By way of a demonstration; pictures from the ‘Point and Shoot’ I use regularly which have been reduced in quality for use on a computer screen. Both hand-held. Nothing fancy. Both would print well up to A4, maybe even A3 sort of sizes.
A quick comment on the film versus digital debate…
If you want to write a novel with a quill pen as opposed to a word processor then do so. It doesn’t make it any better just because you did.
As the Vietnamese say “Same, Same, but different.”
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