Sunday, February 12, 2006

Hi, I'm James and I don't own a digital camera

On Friday’s post, a commenter, Jack (who has his own photoblog with some nice photos) asked me about the equipment I use and his frustration over not having full control of his camera’s exposure function. When I started taking photography seriously eight years ago, I wanted to be a control freak about focusing and exposure. I bought a Nikon FM10, which is an entry-level Nikon, for several reasons. 1. I could afford it. At the time it cost less than $300 new. 2. It was a Nikon, and accepted all the great lenses that Nikon makes. If I couldn’t afford a better camera body, at least I was going to use better lenses. 3. It was totally manual. No automatic anything. I was in full control of focusing and exposure. This was important to me because I wanted to master the basics of exposure and I didn’t want to fall back on the camera to do my thinking for me. Oh yeah, and it’s a film camera. At the time I was not convinced that a photoelectric chip could capture light with the same degree of subtlety as professional grade photo film.

I now see a lot of great stuff being done with digital cameras and photo software, so I am more inclined to accept that one day I too will own a digital camera. And it’s certainly a plus having the instant gratification of having your photos right away instead of waiting *a whole hour* for a processor to develop and scan the film to CD (provided you can get to one after shooting photos in the middle of nowhere).

So, I ask you, what would you recommend to Jack (see his comment in last Friday's post), or to me, who has yet to make the jump to digital? And keep in mind we're both budget-conscious.

Update: Then there are people like kristyk who take pictures like these on her cell phone.


Jack said...


Thanks for the nice plug for my site. I'm currently considering a Finepix S5200 or, if I can swing the $$$, the Finepix S9500. It'll be interesting to see what your viewers come up with for the two of us.

I'd say to you however that, if you're getting the pics you want the way you want them, why not stay with what you have?

kristal said...

I'm an amateur photographer at best, but the more pictures I take, the more I learn to work with what I have. Those pictures you linked to were taken with my cameraphone [no postprocessing at all]. When I first got it, every picture looked terrible. After a lot of experimentation I figured out what kind of light/angle/etc the camera liked and I try to use it.

I have too many cameras to count, but each one has a different personality. My point is that any camera can take a good picture if you work at it hard enough! The key, I guess, is to find one that makes the work as minimal as possible. My main digital camera is an Olympus c740 that I bought several years ago. I have used and abused it over the years, but it still takes great pictures. No matter how easy it is to take/manipulate digital images, they don't compare to the texture and depth of film though.

Chandira said...

I have a Canon Powershot, which my husband bought, after listening to a completely anal friend of his go through months of comparing facts and figures.. and finally decinding on the Powershot. I think our is the A80. I'm not much of a photographer at all, but I love my camera. And the software that comes with it. it's easy to use, and takes great pictures.

Doesn't have much of a zoom, but the close-up function is awesome...

James said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
James said...

(sorry, messed up my comment)

In one sense, and as kristal has proven, it's not necessarily the camera, but the person behind the lens that makes good photos happen. I'm considering digital only in that my current camera was rated for 50,000 exposures, and I'm pretty sure I'm rapidly approaching the day when it will give its last measure of devotion. That and having the photos instantly may encourage me to actually get out and photograph more.

Thanks, all for your input!

Mel said...

Just surfing BE and came across your blog! I too am into photography, have done the film cams and recently jumped into digital with a Canon 20D. My purposes are to focus on a portrait business, so I got the best I could afford.

I would suggest you do a DSLR if you can swing the $$, as anything less won't feel the same as working with your manual film camera. You can get a Rebel (older model) for a pretty decent cost too. Now I'm not plugging for just Canon as I feel Nikons are excellent just the same, it just happens to be what I know from experience with them.

When I debated on crossing to digital, I calculated how much I spent in just one year on film, which was a lot, and weighed that against the cost of the DSLR I wanted to invest in. In less than 2 years of paying for film, my dslr will pay for itself. I considered it to be a decent trade off.

Good luck in your search for a digicam!