I was walking away from the Smithsonian in D.C. one time with my friend Kim, who has taught photography there for many years, and I noticed Kim was walking with his head down. I asked him why, and he said, "I don't want to see a picture. This is just the kind of light I like." He didn't have his camera with him.
Not having a camera with you is one way you can miss those serendipitous opportunities that pop up every once in a while. People discuss that a lot. But the other way you can lose out is having the wrong camera with you.
As a camera reviewer, that's happened to me a lot over the years. So maybe I'm overly sensitive.
But I tend to use one camera for my "real" work in any given period, and the look of that camera is important to the look of the work. So when I'm caught out snapping away with some different device, then, suddenly, great photo opportunities become a bad thing.
Here's one of my standard examples of this:
I was testing a Ricoh GXR at the time. No offense to GXR users, but it's not a terribly good file. I really wish I'd had a better camera with me when this situation developed. I'm pretty sure there was a good picture there. I might even have found it.
Having the wrong camera with you is the problem with cellphones, in my mind. What if you see a good picture?
Of course, the cellphone could be your camera of choice—the one you're using for your "real" work. Then, naturally, you'd need your cellphone with you when you got lucky and hit a great opportunity. For me, however, it would be the wrong camera. And when I have the wrong camera—as with Kim that day on the Mall—then, seeing a good picture goes from being a good thing to being a bad thing.
There's nothing worse than seeing a fantastic picture when you don't have a camera with you. But seeing a fantastic picture when you have the wrong camera with you is almost as bad.
P.S. You're in no way obligated to agree with this post. It might not be true for you. And if it isn't true for you, I'm not saying you're wrong. I'm just describing what's true for me. Please don't take it the wrong way.
Original contents copyright 2014 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved. Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
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Featured Comments from:
DavidB: "That's funny. I am almost locked into a mindset for each of my cameras. For my Sigma I see industrialization, smoke stakes, dead birds. These are the images I see on a walk. With my SLR/n I see textures, I just want to image trees, rock surfaces. My phone seems to be just for snap shots, ete. But maybe that's just the craziness of my brain. I feel for a specific image I want to create with only a specific tool."
Mike replies: I think the important thing is knowing how your own mind works and then accommodating that. Sounds like you have.
David Miller: "I couldn't agree more. A while ago I bought a Fuji X-20 specifically as a carry-all-the-time camera: small, quick to use, functional optical viewfinder, reasonable zoom range…ready for anything, right? A few months later the Fuji X-T1 was released, along with great sale prices on most of the X-mount lenses. I got the camera and several prime lenses, deliberately staying away from zooms for a while to see how that would influence my photography. To my great surprise the 23mm prime (equivalent to 35mm focal length on a full-frame camera, and not a length I've ever used much with zoom lenses) 'clicked' with me. (Pun intended.) That lens now lives on the front of the X-T1, and the outfit has become my carry-all-the-time: it's surprisingly versatile and I've discovered that I don't mind missing the occasional not-bad shot in exchange for capturing a smaller number of higher-quality images that really please me."
Mike replies: Yeah, isn't that lens amazing? Impresses every time.
Scott Price: "I used to worry about having the wrong camera/lens/whatever with me. It seemed that the more I learned about photography, the more likely I would miss an opportunity to capture a special moment. Then, I encountered a 'decisive moment' in my development as a photographer—the realization that my growth as a photographer was allowing me to recognize these moments more often. In effect, the act of searching for beautiful things to photograph taught me to see and appreciate beautiful things in my daily life. Once I realized this, I no longer mourned the 'loss' of these moments because I lacked the 'right' tool to capture them. Instead, seeing these moments for what they are has made me more thankful for what photography has given back to me."