The recent couple of posts on simplicity/complexity resonated with me in a particular way.
When I started taking pictures some 30 odd years ago, I went for all-out simplicity.
A body, a zoom lens and voilà!
No need to change the lens, no need to focus, just P.H.D. (press here, dummy!).
Since I was fortunate to have an SLR, results usually turned out to be acceptable, even by DearSusan readers’ standards.
Then came the digital camera switch, starting with compacts.
The word PHD had taken a new meaning. Because lugging heavy equipment was gone, as well as the film printing exercise.
Could it get better??
Well yes, because the sensor driven limitations of said compacts, especially in the early 2000s, meant that quality was moderate at best except in perfectly good light and thus decided to go for a digital SLR.
The weight was back, still toying with zooms. Primes unknown at this address.
Next step, PUI. Picture taking Under Influence. I tried a prime, and then another.
And liked it.
Not just the photography, the picture taking in itself. A little bit similar to what Robert Pirsig describes in Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance.
Turning that accelerator generates pleasure, defines quality, just like focusing on a silken smooth lens barrel.
All those bells and whistles, toggles, the choosing of the aperture, the focus peaking, it almost feels like being an artist. Almost.
Next step was moving to mirrorless, straight with manual primes. I thus managed to shave some weight off with mirror gone. Rewarding feel and IQ.
Yet, it’s never all black and white, is it?
PUI encore, someone in my photographic circle comes up time and again with some stunning shots of street photography.
And I realize I am never, ever going to be able to come up with something similar with a manual prime lens.
Taking THE shot of two old people crossing the street in sync or this portly gentleman kindly supported by a relative to go up the stairs. Great shots.
Too slow. Beyond reach. Age beckons…
So what should I do? Open question.
I thus recently started playing with a zoom lens again, something I had not done for years except for animal photography, and discovered that, in the meantime, zooms have progressed, too…
So yes, the trial is proving interesting, even if it may mean going back full circle to P.H.D.
No sensuous pleasure like the one generated by the combination of all the adjusments, the action on the body and the lens, like synchronizing carburettors on an older sports cars.
No more sensor cleaning either because of frequent lens changing, mind you, and the ability to be there pronto to take THE shot, if ever that is going to materialize. Less weight to carry because a zoom may cover two, three lenses.
So, complexity, simplicity, what say you?
Because, in the end, no more, no less, this is what we must shoot for, right?
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