Sometimes More Is Just a Touch Impractical
I own a great Digital SLR. It’s one of the nicest APS-C cameras that you could buy about four years ago when I picked it up. I’ve got a couple prime lenses, a macro lens, a great travel zoom, an exterior flash, and more other random photography toys than I ever really needed to take good pictures.
I even know enough about using it to take a decent picture with it.
In the last 2 years, I’ve seen the number of photos I’ve taken with the big camera plummet. This last year, I took more photos with my phone than my camera. Neither one of those numbers is particularly large.
I’m never really happy with the photos my phone takes. They’re good, but I always feel like I could do better. The problem is, I’m rarely in a mood to carry a backpack or shoulder bag full of camera gear unless I’m planning to take a lot of pictures.
Sometimes Less Is More of What You Want
I’ve contemplated what to do to solve the problem on and off for a few months now. At first I considered adding more structured time to exercise my photography skills and take some pictures, but my schedule is already creaking a bit alarmingly under current load, so I decided anything involving more dedicated time was not a particularly clever plan.
I then contemplated supplementing my current camera with a high quality point and shoot. There are some really great options there, but the more I looked the more I realized that I wanted smaller, but not simpler. I enjoy having task-specific lenses, manual control dials, and playing with manual raw conversion options.
That led to what was probably the obvious answer all along: Look at the new mirrorless cameras. I probably should have done this sooner, but I had a slightly dim view of the product category, because I was last camera shopping when the category was brand new and the tradeoffs for a smaller camera were significant.
One minor education online in mirrorless cameras later, and I’m impressed with the state of the market and the options that I have available. Fuji, Olympus, Sony, and Panasonic all have some sort of offering worth looking into.
I then make my way to a local photo store, because while the reviews all are a great education in the technical merits of a camera, there’s something to be said for picking the thing up, testing if the controls feel right to your hands, and making you decision based on that. I came away impressed with the overall handling, all of the cameras I tested out focused faster than I expected, had manual controls for most of the settings I want access to, and were more compact than I had thought.
After even more deliberation, building out different camera configurations with different sets of lenses by manufacturer, getting trade in quotes for my old camera, and far more fussing than was strictly necessary, I’ve got a camera, a couple lenses, and the other accessories all picked out. I also have a good quote lined up for my old camera gear.
Out With the Old
I’ll miss my old camera. It helped me document an absolutely amazing trip to Japan. I had it with me the day I started dating my wife. I’ve hauled it to major holidays, vacations, and all sorts of events for the past four years or so now and the camera itself is a part of those memories, because of the amount of work that often went into hauling the camera and how much mind space it took to use it.
I’m planning to use the new camera to document more exciting things that are coming up, hopefully more of the small moments as well as the big ones. Strangely I hope that a few years from now when I’m contemplating upgrading, I can think of it like I do most of the rest of my electronics: like a tool that served me well in an unobtrusive way rather than something that’s part of the memories itself.