#21 I love my camera, I don’t care about cameras

Am I going to do what everyone else ever has done and write about GAS? Probably. I won’t say the gear isn’t important in a lot of kinds of photography. But for the reasons I shoot I’m really not convinced. My want of a camera over a phone is the feel of it. I love the weight (not too much) of a camera in hand. I love the shape, the dials, the thumb rest. I could ruin my credit card and buy a digital Leica. I could solve the one ‘problem’ I have with my camera – the size – and buy the GRII or an X100F. Until I kill this camera though, I won’t. Even then, it’ll be time for debate.

I mention killing the camera because I’m sure it’ll die. It’ll die when I drop it, when I spill my drink on the table, maybe when I leave it on the train and never see it again. Although if I leave it on the train and it’s never returned, I hope someone uses it. I’m not precious with the camera. I want it to live forever. If it does, when I die I’ll give it away and let someone else kill it. I can’t afford to replace it. I know how to use it and I like what I can do with it. But I’m not precious. It’s a tool that I love. Sometimes I let it get wet in the rain because I live in Japan and it rains a lot. Sometimes I let it get too hot because I live in Japan and it gets hot. I love it, because it’s always there and doesn’t intrude. It’s small enough to carry wherever I go. Light enough not to tire me out. Although I’m reasonably sure it’s the reason for my current neck problems. Even if so, it’ll be there to document any more trips to the doctor – on a wrist strap perhaps.

Two Guys lighting cigarette, Shimokita
Shimokitazawa, 2017

Fujifilm X-T10 / Fujinon 35mm f/2 lens, by the by. I love it because it’s mine. The Fuji logo is taped over because I don’t like how bold and white it is. Great brand though. So, features? You can change the lens. I haven’t in 18 months and I consider the lens to be part of the body at this point. I often forget that I can do it. A mate once asked me if he could take the lens off and I felt weird and awkwardly told him that no, he couldn’t. I love the lens. I love the focal length (about 50mm on the Fuji). It’s fast. It has an aperture ring. Something I rarely touch other than to play with when I’m not shooting. Either f/8, P mode, or, occasionally, I’ll adjust the aperture myself for a shot of two if I’m in the mood. I love the body. It’s a little broken now. Twice I’ve had to superglue the thumb rest back on. I think it melted off in the Guam heat and then again once Japanese summer really hit. The rubber is a little loose, too. It gives me something to play with when I’m walking though. The size and weight of the body is almost perfect. Not too heavy, not too big. Just the right size for my massive hands. Easily usable with just my right hand. That reglued thumb rest just right. It doesn’t stick out too much, but it takes the weight. It’s part of the overall tactile experience of having the camera in my hand.

cleaning, Shinjuku
Shinjuku, 2017

There’s a tilt screen. My preference is to move myself when I’m shooting and use the view finder . That said, I’m 6’2. Well above average height in Japan and sometimes I use the tilt screen to better frame a shot in certain situations – often when it’s crowded and I can’t get down or when there’s something a little higher I want a shot of – clocks, over fences, birds nests in weird places. The tilt screen certainly isn’t make or break, but it’s a wonderful convenience.

It has dials on top. Part of that tactile experience I guess. The exposure compensation is right there on top, next to the shutter speed. Then four programable buttons on the back that I have programmed for switching between manual and electronic shutter (used on the train sometimes), ISO (used almost never – 1600ISO unless I really need to change), then focal point and AF mode (never touched, but there are four buttons, y’know).

Umbrella darkness (1 of 1)
Shimbashi, 2017

The Electronic view finder is nice. I’m sometimes annoyed by how slowly it switches with the eye sensor, but it’s part of the charm I guess. If there’s a shot I really want and I’ve got a split second to get it, I have to deal with however I’m currently using the camera. I’ve got better at framing in the view finder and on the screen by virtue of often not having the time to switch. The flash is also solid. I’m shit at using it. But I enjoy it whenever I try.

Finally, it has good rings for the strap. I’ve used a bunch of different straps – currently I’m using a neck strap with attachable bits incase I want to take it off and use the wrist strap on a whim. They just work. They’re not awkward or fiddly. They don’t stick out too much. They help stop me prematurely killing the camera.

Atami Trip (Kakio - Kakio) (34 of 45)
Atami, 2017

I’ve written almost nothing about how the camera functions technically. Low light performance, sharpness, etc. That’s because I don’t really care. If you really deeply care about your camera’s technical performance, that’s awesome. More power to you. I love that you love it. But it’s not for me. Not right now anyway. I love this camera because it’s mine. Because I’ve used it to take thousands of pictures of my life. All but one of my favourite pictures of Yuka were taken with this camera. The other was taken with the technically awful camera on my phone the day I got it and needed a new lock screen. That picture’s great because we both look so happy. I love this camera because it fits in my hand, just right. I love it because it’s the first camera I bought after realising that photography was something I needed to do. After my X20 died, I needed something in my hand to replace it. It’s the camera that helped me really care about shooting. That took me to the next level in my love of photography. I love it because it helps me do what I love in a way I love doing it.

Atami Trip (Kakio - Kakio) (44 of 45)
On the road in Kanagawa, 2017

I guess I didn’t really talk about GAS. I sometimes think about replacing this camera. Sometimes when I’m getting prints done I’ll pick up the GRII and decide if I really do love the way it feels. But within 10 seconds I always put it back down, go upstairs to the street, and start walking to the coffee shop with this camera. Shooting as I go. Because I don’t give a shit about cameras. I just want to make pictures.

Tokyo, August 2017

2 thoughts on “#21 I love my camera, I don’t care about cameras

  1. Frank Lehnen says:

    Thank you for this post! Extremely well written!

    And it’s not GAS you’re writing about, it’s about your love of photography and your love of that one camera!

    And the results are certainly great!


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