Five Benefits Of Cameranogamy

After years of cheap flings with over a hundred partners in photography (er, in other words, cameras!), I’ve come to appreciate and appreciate the joys of sticking to a very small selection.

Even if I’m not quite a one camera man (yet), here are five of the major benefits I’ve appreciated by moving ever closer to cameranogamy – being faithful to just one camera.

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1. You know how to set up the camera to get the look you want.

For a while it was fun to see how different cameras and lenses render the same scene. But once you find a camera you really love, it’s more satisfying to learn how to set it up once and then use it time and again to make the photographs that look how you want them to. Without endless hit and miss, trial and error, and wasted photographic opportunities.

2. You know how and where any buttons, dials, knobs and menus are when you do need to make adjustments.

Even when you’re well versed in the basics and impact of adjusting aperture, shutter speed and other core variables of a camera, if you’re constantly switching between different machines, you’re also constantly try to remember where these crucial controls are on each.

When you’re a cameranogamist, the muscle memory of your mind and fingers instinctively makes any adjustments, without having to think twice.

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3. You’re free from paralysis of choice.

I can’t tell you the hours I’ve lost sat at home staring at dozens of cameras, lenses and rolls of film, wondering which possible combination to choose. Even three cameras, three lenses and three films gives 27 different options. Trying ramping that up to 20 of each and you have 8000 different combos. Terrifying!

By being loyal to one camera, lens (and film if you’re shooting film, or preset look with digital (see no1 above)) you just grab your camera and go. Meaning more precious time spent out in the field enjoying the photography pursuit you so love.

4. You know how to frame before you even raise the camera.

If you change focal length more often than your underwear, you never come to learn what the world looks like just through a 28mm or 35mm or 50mm lens. With cameranogamy, you already know what the scene in front of you will look like through the camera’s viewfinder or screen, so finding compositions that work best at that camera/lens’s focal length come far easier.

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5. Your finances are far healthier.

The silent killer for me was buying a cheap camera or lens or batch of expired film two, three, even 10 times a month, then eventually realising that £10 here and £20 there soon adds up to hundreds. Invest a little more in just one or two cameras you love, and then your cash is freed up for other things.

I also found tremendous relief by stopping this spending and seeing how much better my finances were looking overall. When the money you’re spending on a hobby causes more worry than the hobby itself helps relieve, something needs redressing.

Hopefully you can see from the five points above, there are major benefits to sticking to a small set of cameras you know inside out.

Even if, like me, you can’t quite yet pledge allegiance to just one!

What benefits have you found from using the same camera consistently?

We’d love to hear in the comments below (and remember to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).

Thanks for reading. Please share this post with others you feel will enjoy it too.

23 thoughts on “Five Benefits Of Cameranogamy”

  1. Hi Dan,

    Like you I have been down that street of buying umpteen different cameras and lenses, may I say at this point that “late night buying” is a disease that can turn out to be contagious and very costly, not only in your pocket but also the disappointment when what you’d convinced yourself at the time was the best buy around actually lands and turns out to be a load of old tat…..
    However, I have had that experience and it has actually taught me that the quest for success is something that at times is worth considering as lessons learnt throw up small gems, like the Pentax Q that prior to you buying I remember saying that you wouldn’t be dissatisfied and I’m glad to read that you have had the pleasure of making friends with this underrated little gem….
    In some ways having just 1 or maybe 2 cameras does mean you can focus the mind into getting the best out of that particular camera, and at times for me knowing where each button or dial is even if blindfolded does obviously have it’s advantages…. the only thing I struggle with Dan being honest is I haven’t quite got to the stage of being total happy and satisfied with what I have…. I’m very close and I’m hoping that my new find and buy… the beautiful Ricoh gx100 which I’m getting to know as well as my other cameras just may tip me over the edge and mean I’m that rare individual ” A contented photographer” wish me luck eh….

    BR

    Lynd

    1. Lynd, good luck! The Ricohs are little gems, as is the Pentax Q series.

      The whole psychology of camera buying I find fascinating – how we get hooked so easily and a particular camera or lens that half an hour ago we’d never heard of suddenly becomes the most essential and potentially life changing photography purchase of our lives!

      Aside from the Q and GX100, and other gems you’ve uncovered over the years?

  2. I guess i have stuck with the same film camera and digital camera for years because they give me the simple results I have wanted. I do basic photography at the moment and don’t see the advantages or need to get another camera. I am sure if I could see how I could get better results with another camera I would buy it. susanJOY

    1. Susan I love how you have an immunity almost to becoming sucked into such things. I have often envied your simple, practical approach over the years, and try to be similar.

      You are the opposite of an advertising and marketer’s dream (which is someone easily seduced by the latest “benefits” of whatever technology they’re selling), which in my book is a very good thing!

      1. Thanks for your lovely comments Dan. You are certainly a great influence in my life and it is so great to be in touch with you again on a regular basis and to be so helpful to my continuing journey with photography lots of love from susanJOY

  3. When it comes to owning lots of different cameras, the more I’m starting realize the truth of the phrase “Jack of all trades, master of none.” I’ve been thinking about cutting down the collection as well. This post hit home even more, especially the points about becoming more efficient.

    After not using my D3200 for a while, let’s say I was a little rusty on my last *Vacation/excursion, I left not so happy with my shots, but was also dealing with constraints – another important part of efficiency!

    1. Hi Chris, thanks for your input.

      We’re all too quick these days to expect any new product to be perfect, and for us to learn the depths of its functions and nuances within minutes.

      If we accept that we need to spend a decent, extended amount of time with ANY device to really start to get to know it, and then to focus on how we get the best from its strengths, I think we’d be far more satisfied and far less disappointed.

      I’m saying this directly to myself as much as to anyone!

      Yes as you said, being a little unfamiliar with a camera and trying to get the best of it in a hurry can be very frustrating!

      1. Indeed, that’s the funny thing about more modern technology these days. Sometimes I find myself expecting to be able to use something instantly and expertly. Of course that line of thinking makes absolutely no sense.

        I definitely think that can be attributed a bit to our digital age and the idea that technology = efficiency and ease of use, whereas that is not always the case!

        1. I do the same. Because modern tech does SO much, we expect it to do everything. Instantly.

          I remember a stand up comedian doing a sketch called something like “everything’s amazing and nobody’s happy”. Saying that we do things like sit in planes watching movies on our devices – something unthinkable and the realm of science fiction just a few decades ago – then complain if the network buffers or the battery runs out.

          We don’t know how good we’ve got it, was the gist of it… A very helpful reminder!

  4. I miss the days when I would have 1 digital camera, and 1 for film. I owned probably 2 lenses maximum at a time – always a nifty fifty, and a macro lens. And I honestly think I took my best images back then. As you say, you really get to know your gear when you’re not constantly switching between cameras and lenses!

    There was a time when I was shooting a Nikon D40 with old manual lenses. I learned so much about exposure then, I got to a point where I could guess pretty accurately the shutter speed I needed with a particular aperture and ISO! Can’t do that now.

    I’m trying to go back to that simplicity, although I’ll probably still have at least 4 cameras – my Lumix (definitely a keeper), my DSLR (bokeh machine), and 2 film cameras minimum (one for b&w, one for colour). Once I’m done with my current batch of film, I plan to focus on using one or two film stocks as well. I’ve always loved Portra and XP2, so those are my top film choices at the moment.

    1. Sounds like you’re on a sure and steady path to simplification.

      It is fun for a while to try out a range of different cameras (and lenses and film) but there comes a point where many of us get tired of just being camera testers and want to focus on improving as photographers. It’s amazing how many of us in this connected community are coming to the same realisation…

  5. Sorry mate, I’m gonna have to throw the spanner in the works (again) 😉

    First of all, cameras are just light-tight boxes with a timed opening at one end, and a capturing medium at the other. Other than the time value of the exposure, there is very little that a camera can do to convey your creativity. Everything else is either, before the fact (your creativity) or after the fact (your post processing techniques)

    Yes, I agree that having an intimate knowledge of the physical layout of your camera can be comforting and possibly help you ‘shot on instinct’, but other than time value… (see above) I will also lob framing and DOF into this camp. These will only improve with muscle memory. Like using a zone focusing camera, you improve at fixing your focusing distances only with use. Here, one particular tool is a good idea.

    Free from paralysis of choice.
    Yes, but for other reasons I feel. If you remove the camera from the equation, you will have WAY more options to consider… Composition. Content. Story-telling. Etc. Etc.

    Stop wasting money! The ‘best’ camera will never be invented or made. Everything‘s an evolution, the revolutionary idea is that you don’t have to waste you money one a 14 fps shooter if you’re not shooting sports. That’s what the big multinationals what you to think, and grab your hard earned money. You’re wasting your money if you think you really need that f1.4 lens… Etc. Etc.

    Yes, it does feel good when you have a camera that fits you like an old pair of shoes. But think about how that pair of shoes became so comfortable. You had to wear it for some time. Cameras are amazing. Unlike that comfortable pair of shoes, that gives up the ghost JUST as they become comfortable, cameras if treated with some care, will outlast you, and your children, and possibly your grandchildren. Even though they’re just light-tight boxes.

    Here ends the lesson for the day
    #grumpyoldman
    😉

    1. Ha ha, Anton feel free to throw a spanner in any time! Most of my posts are just springboards for further discussion.

      Yes, cameras are just light tight boxes, but some we connect with much better than others, due to a whole range of factors – some we can’t even describe. It’s sometimes just a chemistry thing. Like with people. And with focused use of one camera (or just a few) we inevitably become more proficient with it/them than if we tried a new camera every photowalk. Which I used to do. I do agree that whatever camera we use, we can learn something from it and progress. I just got tired of being a camera tester and having more cameras than hot dinners.

      Paralysis of choice – yes absolutely there are literally an infinite number of ways to make a photograph. But by removing one of the variables, the camera (which becomes more complex and increases exponentially when you add interchangeable lens, and film/settings) you can focus on the rest more. This is what I wrote about invisible cameras recently, having a camera you know well and is near invisible means it’s not actually much different to use than simply walking around with no camera and making the compositions with your eyes and in your head. Maybe the ultimate invisible camera is no camera at all!

      Absolutely agree about the perfect camera, and how the big brands try convince us we need various new features etc. This we can ignore, but it’s sad when other photographers look down on their peers because they don’t have a certain feature or badge or degree of resolution with their camera…

      I confess I’m still curious about a new (to me) camera here and there. I could easily just pick up my Spotmatic F and Super-Takumar 55/1.8 and use nothing else for the rest of my life – and the camera would likely last that long. But I like other cameras like the Pentax Q which very likely won’t last anything like as long as the Spotmatic has, and will. So there will be some kind of forced upgrade/progression at some point. Which I’m fine with, as long as its not every week.

  6. I will be the first to throw my hand in the air and admit that hunting for, lusting after, and finally getting that ‘new-to-me’ camera is what drove me, and many like me. So, I would never point and berate anyone who feels that way. Don’t worry, no buts here…

    I think what got me is that one day I stopped looking, stood up and asked myself if such and such camera will really make me more creative. Will I take better pictures with that old box Brownie, or this D850? At some point I had to stop looking, and start using.

    Mind you, a new Hasselblad X1D-50c would look mighty fine on my camera shelf 😉

    Have a good one mate
    A

    1. “Will this camera make me more creative?” – This is a huge and important question.

      And arguably the cameras that have made me more creative have been the most simple ones. A pinhole camera I made myself from a crudely adapted old Kodak Instamatic, my first film camera the Holga 120N, the plastic fantastic wide angle (22mm) Superheadz/Ultra Wide Slims, and more recently the Pentax Q with the Holga/pinhole-esque 07 Mount Shield Lens…

      I have a post in draft about this, time to finish it off methinks!

  7. Is it fair to say though, that some of your experiences as a serial camera philanderer may have informed your choices now that you see the virtues of “Cameranogomy”?

    What I mean is that while it’s certainly true that too much choice and a lack of familiarity with equipment can have a negative impact on what you do or how efficiently you might do it … the knowledge you gained about what you like and don’t like, what works for you and what doesn’t, what is important to you and what isn’t, comes in part from messing about with a whole bunch of different cameras.

    Are cameras just a box? Hmm. I think it’s a bit reductionist. A good camera won’t make you more creative but it shold be enjoyable to use. A a really bad one might make the whole experience unpleasant enough that creativity is not at the front of your mind, or even put you off entirely … as well as possibly making a whole bunch of blurry, badly exposed pictures. On the other hand a camera you really enjoy using for whatever reason, will encourage you to get out there and do it.

    1. Tony, thanks for your comments. Yes that is definitely a fair point. We are incredibly lucky to be able to sample decades’ worth of cameras at very low cost to see what we like best. If I had been born in 1950 say and got into photography when I was 18, I wouldn’t have had this opportunity. I’d have probably talked to a local camera shop, gone with their suggestions and made the best of it, oblivious that maybe a Pentax or Olympus would have been a better fir for me than a Canon or Konica or whatever.

      Completely agree that a camera should be enjoyable to use. If it’s not, then the frustration spoils the experience. Yes, there might be ultimately some sense of victory gained from creating a beautiful photograph from an awkward and uncooperative machine, but once you’ve done that once, the novelty wears off and it just becomes annoying! Why waste your time fighting with one camera when you could be blissfully happy with another?

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