There is an old farm place that I pass on my cycling route. They tore the house down a while back and all that is left is the front porch still surrounded by the flowers that somebody probably planted decades ago. It was built to last, that old porch. I wonder how many conversations took place on that porch. How many naps were taken on the front porch swing? Did they have an old church pew on that porch like we did? Or an old milk can? I finally stopped and took a picture of it. The photograph didn’t turn out like I wanted. I blame my phone. I am not the biggest fan of the wide angle focal lengths that my iPhone camera offers. Or maybe I’m a perfectionist. But it is better than nothing.
I have been contemplating purchasing a digital camera. I don’t always jump on the band wagon for new technology until I’m sure it is here to stay. That’s why I’m still driving a pickup with manual transmission. It is painfully apparent that digital photography has firmly established itself and besides that I still have a drawer full of rolls of undeveloped film. So for the last few weeks I have been diligently researching digital cameras. And since it has been a bit overwhelming I wanted to share that burden with you.
From my research it is easy to see that some people are more interested in camera gear than they are in photography. There are people who have built careers on reviewing cameras, but their pictures fail to spark any inspiration. I have also noticed this phenomenon in the guitar market. There are collectors and there are players. I have met quite a few people who have truly spectacular guitars, amps, and effects, but are very comfortable telling you that they are not serious musicians and may only know a handful of chords. I have never really understood these people. I like to play my guitars. Then there are incredible musicians who either cannot afford an instrument that is worthy of their level of mastery, or they just simply do not care about gear. People are fascinating.
I have tried to keep this in mind while searching for the right camera for me. I just want to take pictures with a proper camera and not my iPhone. I also don’t want to have to dig through a bunch of digital menus on a screen. But the camera companies do not make it this simple. The product that I am looking for probably doesn’t exist. I want a digital camera that is just like an old 35mm film camera, with only ISO, Shutter Speed, and Aperture as manual controls. Instead they offer a bunch of different options that I do not fully understand. It’s like I have been happy driving my Ford Model T and now I am shopping for electric car, but I am getting stressed out choosing because I’m not exactly sure why I need Bluetooth connectivity.
I do this ever few years, research camera gear. And ever few years the market has completely shifted. Electronic things are not built to last and this really bothers me. Planned obsolescence is a factor in driving the electronics market. So there is a disconnect between me and the camera companies. While they are busy offering new color science, more megapixels, higher ISO, and faster autofocus, I am really drawn to things that stand the test of time. This is why have always balked at buying a digital camera and I am using an SLR from 1984.
In spite of my tendency towards nostalgia, I am still searching for a digital camera. I have come to the conclusion that composition matters more than technical specifications. If you can’t take a good picture on an iPhone, you probably won’t do much better on a fancy mirrorless digital camera although the image quality-which is not to be mistaken with quality of composition-will be better. Ultimately, a camera is a tool. I am hoping I can look past the marketing sugar-coating and find a workhorse that will help me get the job done. And hopefully the work will last.