The Very Best camera

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Moose22

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I have once again been reminded that the very best camera is the one you have with you when you see something you want to photograph.

I almost always have a film camera with me when out casually. But stuff happened New Year's Eve, in a pitch dark room, when I only had a camera with 200 speed color film and slow lenses.

So I pulled out a phone and grabbed a few images like this:

31122022_BabaBand_800pxPXL_20230101_020313985.jpg


Technical quality is garbage, but I took a dozen shots, got a couple the owner of the coffee shop asked to slap on his instagrams, and I enjoyed the rather strange moments that were unfolding in front of me.

If I'da known stuff was going down I'd have had p3200 loaded, or at least Portra 800, and my fast lenses. Or brought the Z7 and gotten those impossible shots modern digital sensors and good lenses can pull off. But I had none of that.

This has me thinking back. Some of my favorite shots are from a D70. Before digital I sold lots of snapshots to people that I took with a 4004s (it had a fill flash, which made it perfect for the situation I was in). And I even got a few photos in a magazine that I took with an EM and a 50mm pancake lens, a rig I carried literally only because it was so cheap I didn't care if I broke it.

I've got some holy grail cameras and lenses now, stuff I'd never have been able to afford on my $4.25/hr salary when I bought that EM. And I'm unbelievably spoiled, but have to remind myself now and again that nobody gives a rat's ass if I could print an image tack sharp at 18 x 24" when they're looking at a shot for 2 seconds on their cell phone. They either react, or don't, and then it's done. Better to take a shot than not, even if it is the "wrong" equipment.
 

DWThomas

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You've got it -- pragmatism wins the day! For me to be out with medium format gear usually suggests some advance planning, the phone is always with me. And since spring 2022 I've had an iPhone 13 Pro that sort of has some optical zoom even.
 

KerrKid

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The other day, I went out with my Pentax Zoom 90WR to finish the last 14 shots on the roll of Delta 400 I had in it and took exactly one picture before the camera rewound the roll....of 24 exposures. Doh. I pulled out my iphone and took the next 44 shots. Not at all what I wanted, but desperate times call for desperate measures. I should know better than to go anywhere without an extra roll of film and batteries.
 

Montegoblue

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Off hand I'd say an F or F2. you asked about a camera. Cell phones don't count in my answer.
 

momus

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I agree w/ everything you said Moose22. It's true (and of course we have to remember to actually BRING the camera w/ us!). Technical quality is one thing and having fun w/ it is another.

I was never as fussy about painting or pottery or any of that as I am w/ photography though. Flaws in other art forms are seen as signs of the artist's hand. But w/ photography, one little speck of dust is not seen that way, it's a sign of a flaw. So we have to do it again and again, pursuing that perfect thing. It's pretty crazy.

Maybe it's all the steps we have to go through to make a film image, and the delay that occurs before we get to see it. There's the expense too. Expensive equipment, expensive film and chemicals. All you need to make a drawing is a sheet of paper and a charred stick, and anyone can make their own paper from old linen. Shoot, a beautiful clay pot is just that. Clay. Dirt, in other words, and you can dig it up yourself right out of the earth. Paint pigments are nothing but crushed and powered earth elements mixed w/ oil. Photography is, for whatever reason, different.
 
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Moose22

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Flaws in other art forms are seen as signs of the artist's hand. But w/ photography, one little speck of dust is not seen that way, it's a sign of a flaw. So we have to do it again and again, pursuing that perfect thing. It's pretty crazy.

I don't see it like that right now.

I mean, I have some landscape stuff I did on Velvia with the GX680 that's just about perfect. Really fussy about all of that, and the slightest problem with the image lets me down. Maybe that's how you get when you sit in the cold for an hour every night for a week waiting for the light. And MF Slides are just SOOOOOOO awesome! And, as with digital, detail levels are just impossible. Like, I'm pixel peeping to see what those spots are and when I zoom in they're skydivers at an airport 8 miles away. So amazing to resolve to that level.

But I'm not in that kind of mood. I want composition. I want something people respond to, preferably emotionally. Honestly, if someone says "It's so sharp!" even meaning it as a compliment, I kind of feel like I didn't do what I meant to do. The technical quality shouldn't be noticeable first, the reaction should be visceral. People should want to look again, or better, should feel something from that frozen moment.

Actually, I'm thinking as I type. It's not even about capturing a moment, really, so much as telling a story in the moment. Maybe even distorting the moment some. But for technical quality, I haven't shot 6x8 or 6x9 in a good while, nor digital. It is all either 645 for MF or 35mm recently.

Maybe it is the same, as I do keep returning to subjects and keep wanting street stuff to be better. But the thing I want perfect right now isn't the technical quality of the negative. I'm not even sure what it is I'm trying to perfect. I should figure that out.
 

Montegoblue

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Not good to overthink and pontificate on photography. It's not art.
 

Tel

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I learned something (related to the topic here) this autumn. I used to take an F2 and/or a Rollei Baby as my go-to travel cameras but when I flew to Dublin in October I was warned not to check any bags (good advice) and so decided to travel light--i.e. one duffel bag and a courier bag. So i packed my little Rollei 35. Walking around the city doing street shooting was ideal--I could grab-shoot anything one-handed. Didn't expect much (it's not even one of the German 35's--it's a Singapore version) and was gobsmacked by the sharp images I got. The camera is the smallest 35mm I've ever seen but it's easy to use (built-in meter too) and takes up no room at all in the luggage. I've got a backup one too but it needs to have the frame counter fixed; maybe worth doing since I plan to make this my new best friend.

Here's a sample.

George's Street Market, Dublin by terry, on Flickr
 

Sirius Glass

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I agree. The best camera is the one you have with you when you need it.
 
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Moose22

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@Tel I totally get the small, bring it with you camera thing. I haven't been traveling much, but P&S in a carry on is super convenient. I've got a 40/2 for my digitals, and a Z6 or Z7 with that is infinitely more portable than a lot of what I use. And I've had a few P&S film cameras, though they've all found their way to other homes. I bought Momus' 8008 and that with an AF50 has been my lightweight SLR rig.

But it makes me think, a P&S is smaller and even less to worry about. And I can use film. Monday I ran into a young lady to whom I gave my Work Record and we shared some photos. For background, last summer she was headed to Hawaii for a vacation, wanted a recommendation for a knock-around camera, so I let her borrow it. She used it so much she asked to buy it and I just told her to keep it. It had very obviously found its home.

She showed me photos of her friends running down a road in the rain, on the beach, getting rowdy at a party, etc. The sort of things a durable, water resistant camera excels at are the things she does. It's zero effort or worry for her to throw that in a purse or a carry on. And the image quality is typical Fuji, even if it was a $35 goodwill find. She has a really nice old Minolta SLR, but is afraid to hand it to anyone at a party or just shove it in her bag when she travels.

@Sirius Glass we joke about you and hasselblad, but I'm sure you can take a great photo with almost any gear. Lifetime of interest and practice there, you just have cameras you've bonded with best.
 

George Mann

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I would always have my Pentax point & shoot with me if my Nikon FG wasn't always saying "take me".
 

Craig

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I have once again been reminded that the very best camera is the one you have with you when you see something you want to photograph.

I agree, as photo enthusiasts we often only consider the negative/slide as the output, but I prefer to consider the whole process, from deciding what camera to take that day all the way through to developed film.

Not all cameras are suitable for all occasions, nor is it often possible or practical to carry a "good"camera on all occasions. There have been many occasions on holidays where the "good" camera has been left in the hotel room simply because it's either too big or too heavy to carry all day. It's the difference between a holiday where I might photograph things, vs making it a job where I'm there to take photographs. Sometimes not taking a large and heavy camera is liberating.

As an example is I love to go to self-serve junkyards to get parts. There are often many shapes and textures there that would make great photos, but "real cameras" are not allowed in. But they don't ask about phones, and some of the modern ones take amazing photos. Sometimes the phone is the only tool that will do the job.
 
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Moose22

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The best camera is whichever one I happen to be selling.

Yeah, sorry. I think we established that last year, when you were in purge mode.

The SECOND best camera is the one you have on you when you see something you really want to photograph.
 

takilmaboxer

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For a long time I never left the house without my Olympus Stylus with a 35 lens. Tiny camera. Perfect to pull out when photos appear. But I wore them all out and now I use what I always have with me (a phone). That's why I was intrigued by Pentax possibly making a p/s camera again. The Olympus shots were way better than prints from phone. With care a 35 can be made tiny.
 

bjorke

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I don't know when it changed by the camera mode in Lightroom Mobile is not somewhat workable, when set to "Advanced" or "Pro" whatever it is. I've tried a lot of camera apps, this one lands well in the zones of user control, freedom, and smooth simple use. Free, even, though if you have an Adobe Cloud account, you also get backups that are auto-shared between phones, iPads, and your computer Lightroom libraries.
 

Jan_Emil

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You're right; common sense always prevails. The phone is constantly with me, so for me to go out with medium format equipment often indicates some ahead planning. And I've had an iPhone 14 Pro with a semblance of optical zoom since it released.
 
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