Using the "real" gear to make "photographs"

posted by Jeff | Thursday, December 15, 2022, 11:14 PM | comments: 0

My friend an our only-half-joking adopted European daughter Kairi, posted an Instagram story about how she never really goes anywhere without her camera. For the record, it's a solid Canon, I think an older DSLR. I adore her for so many reasons, not the least of which is her fascination and love for the world without borders and all of the beauty it offers. Her trust to spend time with us, after meeting her on two Disney cruises, on her way to South America, probably helps as well.

Her photos are the kind of real-life documentary material that I love. She's seen so much more of the world than I have, and much of it with her tongue out. We've talked about photo stuff and gear in conversations via Zoom or chat, and while she understands the gear in a non-trivial way, she definitely appreciates the process of capturing images above the equipment. That's how art is made.

I've had gear for a long time. And I've made do with gear that wasn't necessarily the best. I took some photos of Schuyler Fisk performing (Sissy Spacek's daughter, if you didn't know) around early 2009, and one of my relatives said, "You take photographs," and that has always stuck with me. There's an art to capturing images, regardless of equipment. But the equipment still matters and enables better art.

I have nice cameras. I always have. During the pandemic, I made the leap into Canon's mirrorless RF lens mount, after being in the EF mount world for about two decades, back to film days. The big change is that when you remove the mirror from the camera body, which used to work like the film cameras (you could see through the lens via the mirror, and the mirror flipped up to expose the film), you just see a tiny screen in the camera that sees the electronic sensor directly. The benefit is that lenses now have to project the image closer to the end of the lens, since there is no mirror in the mix, making them smaller. That's a big change, because my almost 20-year-old lenses work just fine. When I bought my first RF camera (an R6), I also bought an adapter so I could use my old EF lenses, including my super wide-angle. But I also bought the platform standard f/2.8 L 24-70mm IS lens, the EF equivalent thing I could never afford in the early EF days. It is the ultimate piece of glass.

Here's the thing though. Since the pandemic ended, I don't take this amazing equipment with me anywhere. That's insane, because no matter what the latest Pixel or iPhone can do, it's not nearly as good as the good cameras or lenses of semi-pro or pro gear. It just isn't the same. I brought the good camera on our cruise in July, it never came out of my bag.

I still want to get the f/2.8 L 70-200m IS, which is the long zoom equivalent of the above, but I can't make good photographs if I don't take the existing camera out with me.


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