Learn the limitations of your camera. Know them well. Then, don’t simply work around them. Use them. Make them work for you.
Where I’ve Been
I’ve had the good fortune to own many film and digital cameras. From a Holga to the “poor man’s Leica.” From the original iPhone to a Sony A7rII. Every single experience was educational and enjoyable.
The A7rII is an amazing camera. Shooting with it was a joy. The image quality is excellent. One is free to fire at will, confident that any exposure miscalculations can addressed during processing. Shooting a bit loose, compositionally, was fine because: Lots. Of. Pixels. Cropping in post wasn’t a problem. Capabilities. That’s where a camera like this excels. Freedom. But, there are many kinds of creative freedom.
The Holga offers something else: freedom from features, freedom from chimping, and, to a certain degree, freedom from responsibility. If the images are bad, I can blame the hastily, sloppily assembled $24 plastic camera with the crappy plastic lens. If an image is good: I’m a flippin’ genius! Look what I did with a “toy” camera!
Where I Wound Up
I sold most of my camera gear recently and found myself mired in the photography doldrums. I wasn’t getting out to shoot. And I needed a kick in the pants.
Luckily for me, NYC-based photographer, master printmaker, and all-around nice guy, Ryan Speth, noticed a confluence of events: my malaise and another photographer’s generosity. Marcia Lippman, fine artist and educator, was trimming her camera collection. Mr. Speth made sure that one camera made its way to Colorado.
Through the generosity of these two people, I received a Panasonic Lumix GF1 with a 20mm (41mm equivalent) f/1.7 lens. An older but quite nice 12 megapixel Micro Four Thirds camera, I was warned that it liked a lot of light. That appears to be true, but the fast pancake lens somewhat mitigates this limitation.
But, honestly, the specifics of the camera and lens don’t really matter. It could have been one of these.
Where I’m Going
The images you see here were captured during my first walkabout with the GF1. Overall, I’m pleased. There are many more photographs but they’re pretty mundane test shots.
As I explore this camera and lens, I learn about working within the limitations of the technology. Even the most powerful, feature-packed tools are bound by physics.
The GF1 is small, light, inconspicuous…good traits for street photography camera. The auto focus is better than expected.
The JPG output isn’t great, but shooting RAW is the way to go anyway. The GF1 delivers a fair amount of noise in low light; it gets pretty dirty if the ISO is set to 1600 or higher. So, I avoid the conditions which make high ISO shooting necessary, or…I embrace the noise. Shoot around the limitation. Or convert to black and white and pretend I was shooting James Dean on a cold, rainy day in Times Square.
Thanks to life, the universe, Ryan, and Marcia, I’m on a new–unplanned but welcomed–photographic adventure.
More photos below…