It’s not our cameras, it’s our forces!
Recently I was involved in one too many after-hour discussion about the best camera to own. While having a state-of-the art latest technology may have an advantage, it is not (at least in my limited experience) the deciding factor to good pictures.
I bought EOS 7D and it’s L-series lenses because I needed the features, not because it was the coolest gadget (although, I have to admit, it is darn cool to walk around with it plus the white L-series lenses): the environmental seals, the magnesium alloy body, and the remarkable custom settings (it can, for example, have different focusing point system between horizontal and vertical position). But as you have seen here (take a look to Hoi An’s stories), even a 7D can fail you. Or to be precise, you can fail your 7D.
So here’s an attempt to wake you up, my dear friends, to understand that, while having the latest technology can be useful, it is not the deciding factor.
I will start with my handycam’s camera, Sony DCR-PC101E. With 1.1MP resolution, people may think it’s a toy. Well here’s what a toy can do.
Then came my Sony Ericsson K750i camera. Yes, it is the first handphone with autofocus camera. I lost it a few years back, and to this date I still miss it’s great macro capabilities. It has a fix f/2.8 which is very nice. Its autofocus is fast and never failed me (unlike my brand new HTC Legend). It’s only 2MP, no…, allow me to rephrase, it has a nice sharp 2MP resolution. And here are examples of what we can do with it.
And here’s an example from an old Nikon E775 in 2006, also 2MP resolution. This was my mom’s first digital camera but has never left the box. So I took over for a few years. It has an optical zoom (that time a big WOW factor), a tiny LCD at the back, and came with a generous (again, that time) 128MB compact flash card!
So what are the deciding factors to good pictures? Know our cameras (for a handphone camera, it is best to have an autofocus one, not a fixed focus). Before purchasing and after owing it. Read available reviews and comparisons. Read the manuals. Try different settings. Adjust, acclimatise, readjust. It took me months of research before I decided on the 7D (or the K750i for that matter). It took me another few weeks to know it (I even used it s a dumbbell the first week to strengthen my limp arms so I don’t get shaky pictures as it weights around 2kg with the lens). Know the features, know the limitations, push them up to the limit but not beyond it.
Composition (the way we look to our objects – up, down, slanted, etc.) and placement of light source are, for me, the two further most important ones. Master these two, and the rest will come in place almost automagically. Do not use the digital zoom, it doesn’t help much in the final product. Instead, if the objects are too far away, move our arses and get closer. Bend down, climb the car (or whatever objects that can help us in getting a better perspective), or do any other funny position that will guarantee laughter from nearby people, but will also almost guarantee good frames.
And don’t forget to read the zillion of photography tips available online, and to write down the condition when pictures were taken, so we can learn from them. I do, and I’m still learning.
Happy hunting and may the force be with you.