I don’t know who said it, but I can’t agree with them more. “The best camera is the one in your hand.”
Nearly 23 years ago, I was 1 semester away from graduating from college. I had taken 7 semesters of technology classes. I was armed and dangerous for the real world. But something inside of me said I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t ready for 9 to 5. I wasn’t ready for suits and ties. Something was seriously wrong. And then it hit me.
I called the registrar and told him I wasn’t going to be at school for my last semester. He was shocked. My parents were furious. I cashed my last student loan check, bought a ticket to Australia and headed to the airport.
I didn’t know what I was doing. But something told me I had to travel. I had to see something beyond the ocean before I committed to a lifetime of technology. And I wanted a photo of a Koala Bear to hang in my cubical.
Lucky me! Duty Free was on my way to the gate. I bought the camera like I was buying a scone at Starbucks and headed for the gate. Strange was my casual nature, as the camera was more expensive than my car. But why not? I had a wad of cash from the bank who thought I was at school. And my plane was boarding.
It was a low end camera. Nothing special. It had a green mode, a running guy mode, a face mode, and a bunch of other stuff I knew nothing about. But I was wild with excitement. I took rolls and rolls of film during my 6 months in Australia (on a 3 month visa, but that’s another blog post). And I came home with a bag of film canisters that I couldn’t develop for months because I had 45 cents to my name when I landed in the US.
The entire time I was there, I noticed the long lenses. I saw guys shooting koalas and kangaroos and thought their shots would blow mine away. I’d say to them, “Man you must be getting some SICK shots! All I have is this junkie little thing.”
Now I’ve got the big lens and the professional body. And I hear my words from 23 years ago all the time. “Wow. Awesome camera. I wish I could get the shots you get with that setup.”
We all would love to have the next best thing. But in photography, you CAN get that shot…with the camera in your hand. While the gear is important, it isn't everything. It is the photographer that takes the shot, not the camera. It is getting up early. It is staying out late. It is reading light. It is finding your subject. It is positioning yourself just right before pushing the shutter release. It is all those things FIRST. Then it is about the camera.
I met a gentleman at a street fair who's work was amazing. I particularly loved one image of a dog in a colorful window. I asked him, "Nikon? Canon?" thinking D810 or 5DMarkIII. His reply, "This is my best selling image. Canon - ELPH point and shoot."
Some of my best images have come with a 'lesser' camera. The sea otter with her baby and the crabeater seal in this post were both taken with a 6MP camera.
Just last week, a very good friend of mine had an accident with his camera. As he was contemplating what to do, he dusted off a 6MP camera from a storage bin and put it on his 300mm lens. The last time he had seen a badger was 25 years ago. Just yesterday he nailed this shot. What do you think? Down right amazing! And with a 6MP camera.
So which camera is better? The one my friend used that you can buy for $40 on Ebay right now? Or the fancy one on the end of the 600mm lens that didn’t get the badger shot? DSC_1432