Was it really the camera?
Just the other day on my 2nd visit to the Carnival at Bayan Mutiara, near Queensbay mall, this cool chick came up to me out of nowhere & asked me my opinion on which was better. Nikon or Canon? Trying not to disappoint her, I said well, either was just as good. Her friends seemed to think that Nikon colors were nicer, then I showed her my LCD, the photo I took with the ferris wheel filled with vibrant colors… took her by surprise!
It’s funny how folks seem to think that by getting a particular brand or better gear that their photos will automatically get better!!?? To be honest at a point in time, I seemed to think so myself. Had I spent less money to obtain all that gear & spent more time investing into learning, experiencing & going out to shoot, I’d be a much better photographer than I would be today.
The thing is, a lot of things in life are just like that. If I bought a new 50″ Samsung LCD TV, I get a 50″ Samsung 1080p HD TV… heck if you bought one too you’d be able to experience the same HD content I can see now if you have the same HD player & hi-fi system like the one I have. If the bloke down the street is driving an S-Class Mercedes & is enjoying the luxury & smooth driving… well if you bought one too, you’d experience the same thing.
On the other hand, how come if you bought the same driver as the one Tiger Woods is using… you can’t drive down the range quite as far or as accurately as he can? Why is it that if you up & bought a 300 year old violin made by the famous Antonio Stradivari, you still can’t play like Joshua Bell? Then why is it that armed with the state of the art, auto focusing, auto exposure digital DSLR that folks still cannot replicate Edward Steichen’s The Pond-Moonlight taken near the home of his friend in 1904… the print was developed using a 19th century process called Gum bichromate… man that was ancient! Yet we can’t reproduce the dramatic emotion that the image portrayed even with today’s technological advancement in photography. In February of 2006, an original print of that photo was sold at an auction for the amount of USD 2.6 million. And to think that image was captured by a camera by todays standard, is lousier than a disposable Kodak!!
Well the answer is really quite simple. Photographers are the ones that make photos, not cameras!
As a wise man said not too long ago, “A camera has less to do with the look of your pictures than a pen has to do with the look of your signature“. And how right he was to observe that.
We spend too much time thinking & blaming our gear for our bad photos but fail to realize that the problem isn’t the gear, it really is ourselves. When we are faced with a challenge, rather than perseverance, we choose the easy way out instead of making do with what we have & look for a work around.
When I tell folks that I use my 50mm as my standard, the first impression is what about the missing focal points in between my wide-angle & my telephoto. They ask, “What if you need 45mm?”, then I say, “Take 1 step back.”… “Then 60mm leh?”… ummm… “Take 2 steps forward?”…. “Can meh? Sure or not?”… that’s when I smack them on the head! Photography is not a spectator sport. You can’t just stand there & expect the image to just fall on a silver platter in front of you. Either you move with the composition, or just give up photography & go spend your money on real spectator hobbies like hi-fi & AV systems.
What the camera is there for really is as a tool to capture the image that a photographer has visualized. Whether the camera is a point & shoot or a DSLR, the most important part of the camera really is the 12″ behind the viewfinder! Of course better gear makes it easier to get the results that you are after. However armed with the technical know-how & experience, it can also be done on a point & shoot… no doubt a little harder to do. In fact at times, the lack of technology or features may sometimes work in your favor. Imagine the dilemma a photographer may have to deal with if using a standard 24-70mm zoom lens compared to a 50mm. Do I zoom out to 24mm & walk nearer to the subject… or do I zoom in to 70 & stay further? On a fixed lens… well.. if I want it to look this way… I stand here. Period!
Less is better at times. So don’t fret over the lack of range or camera technology to get you your shot, do something different with what you have. I’m not saying you should climb into the lion’s enclosure with your 50mm at the zoo, just think a little out of the box & compose differently… or just outright shoot something else a little closer to home. Just because some rich kid has a 300mm he can zoom in on a bird up on the canopy doesn’t mean you need to do the same. Wouldn’t it be better if you could spend more time learning the ins & outs of your gear & take an image which is more emotionally captivating on your cheap camera? Wouldn’t it drive that rich kid nuts!?
Your gear does not determine the output of your images. If you spent less time worrying about your gear, you can spend more time making photos. This translates to practice & experience so that you can make even better looking photos later on. If you want to get a good camera, get one that doesn’t get in the way. Find one that suites you economically & is easy to use. Image quality & low ISO noise means squat if you don’t know how to use your camera.
Just to end this article with some thoughts. Buying a new camera will NOT improve your photography. Buying a 2x more expensive camera is NOT going to improve your photos by 2x! If you have not yet learned to master the camera you have now, what makes you think you’re going to master the new camera you are thinking of buying?