Every now and then I look into new cars. Not that I need or can afford or even want a new car, only that my old one is getting pretty old now (if it were a human, it would be on the verge of puberty—why is that way of putting it vaguely gross?) and although it continues in fine health (knock on my wooden haid) presumably it won't last forever. I should be prepared, I figure.
Plus, it's fun to go on test drives. A few months ago I drove a Honda Civic Si, which was a little barn-burner with a free-revving engine. With so much of its power so high in the powerband, it would force me to throw it around like I was a teenager. That would be my excuse, anyway.
But it had an odd, awkward flaw—for me. The seats. The front seats seem to be designed for 20-year-old Asian guys, who are presumably on the short side and shaped approximately like sticks. I am a 52-year-old overweight white American. I am on the tall side, and I am not shaped like a stick. More like a sack. The hard side bolsters of the narrow seats catch me strategically in a very wrong place: they jab right into my kidneys. With the coupe's taut ride, the evil side bolsters effectively transmit road harshness directly to my kidneys as though that's what they were designed to do. I indulged in a rather longish test drive (the Si really was fun), and my kidneys ached for 24 hours afterwards, like I'd been worked over by a couple of weak midgets who knew exactly what they were doing.
I could never buy that car. Not with those seats. Looks good on paper, though.
The principle is the same with cameras: you can only do so much of your shopping on paper. You've got to hold a camera in your hand, at the very minimum. And it's better if you can use it for a while before you commit to keeping it. That's why B&H Photo and Amazon have liberal return policies. You never can tell when the camera that looks perfect on paper might have something that's just obviously not a fit for you.
Everybody knows that, though. What I wanted to mention, before I forget for the nth time, is that there's a happy sort of corollary to that, too: we tend to learn to love the cameras we use a lot for work that's important to us. Even if it's a klunky piece of junk that requires loving workarounds. Take any tool you've got and use it every day when the nice weather finally gets here (it's coming, here in the northern Hemisphere, rumor has it). Spend a few minutes practicing with it every night; learn its features and foibles; take pictures even when you don't have anything to take pictures of; find a subject that interests you and pursue it. By the time you hit twenty or thirty pictures you love—when presumably you'll be up into the multiple thousands of frames shot, that is unless you're some kind of freaky prodigy—you'll have conceived a real fondness for your little picturetaker, even if it's a kludgey antique or a sorry-lookin' blobby black box way overstuffed with nanny features.
See if it ain't true.
P.S. Nanny Feature, n., a feature or functionality on an electronical camera that looks after you, on account of you're too ig'nant to know how to do it yourself or just too weak-ass 'n' lazy to do it yourself.Featured Comment by Martin: "This post came at just the relevant time for me. In December 2008 I upgraded by old, beloved Nikon D70 for a D90 with an 18–200mm VR. And it's taken me until now—14 months—to get to know (and love!) the D90 as much as I did the D70. The catalyst, predictably, was loads and loads of shooting, both for a new fashion blog and the longest single-day job I've done (13 hours, 998 exposures).
"To be honest I was beginning to despair that I'd never feel as comfortable with the D90 as with the D70 that I used so heavily, but simply logging the hours of shooting did the trick. It's wonderful to have that feeling back—that of the camera being merely an extension of a limb."