As I’m sure you’ve found too, whether we’re talking bikes or cameras, no single one is perfect in every aspect.
Yes, some will come very close, with “imperfections” so minor that on a day to day basis they become all but invisible.
But even then, a camera or bike that is close to perfect for one purpose may not be what we want at all for a different purpose.
If I specifically want to use vintage film lenses with full manual focus for intimate control of depth of field, my Pentax K mount Samsung DSLR with an M42 lens or two is ideal.
But as a small, pocketable camera where I want to focus quickly on objects at a range of distances, it’s a poor option, and my Lumix LX3 could step in to fit the bill superbly.
With bikes, the electric assistance of my ebike (The Mule!) is much appreciated on cold mornings up the long hill on the way to work.
But for a leisurely cruise in the countryside, it just seems too heavy and cumbersome and over engineered, and my simpler, more comfortable and relaxed Specialized Crossroads comes into its own.
Even so, when I do find something that’s a very good fit for the required purpose, it’s rare that I will then just leave it as first arrived straight out of the box.
With my Lumix LX3, it wasn’t until I’d made a few modifications that I really started to enjoy it.
Layering foam then grip tape took the handling from cramped and awkward to comfortable and, well, grippy.
Spending a bit of time experimenting with the dynamic b/w film mode and saving it as a custom setting on the main dial means I can now use pictures straight out of camera without endless fiddling about in camera, or any post processing.
And enabling the zoom memory and figuring out from the max aperture what the focal length is, means I can use it as if it has a 35mm f/2.3 prime lens the instant I switch it on, rather than it always defaulting to the almost always too wide (for me) 24mm.
This series of small mods have made the camera more mine.
With my Specialized Crossroads bike, the tweaks suggested themselves almost from the outset too.
Switching the saddle for a firmer yet far more comfortable one from another bike improved the ride no end.
Removing the front derailleur and swapping the middle and largest cogs on the crank means I have a seven speed bike where the range is low enough for ascending tough hills and high enough to fly down them again without spinning out, and it keeps my chain sweetly aligned in the middle for the two or three gears I use most often.
Wider Fat Frank tyres give extra cushioning and comfort and the peace of mind of puncture protection and reflective sidewalls for winter rides.
And adding a rear pannier rack so I can use the fantastic Ortlieb pannier bags I got for my ebike, means I can carry my stuff and ride freely without the need for a backpack and the associated unwanted weight and sweat.
Again, these mods have made the bike feel more like it’s mine.
This little touches of customisation increase the camera or bike’s usability and invisibility, the argument being the best ones are those which disappear and let you fully enjoy the experience without any obstacles or irritations.
Yes, these may be just dumb devices built to serve a purpose, but I really enjoy developing some kind of emotional connection that makes it feel like the camera or bike is more like a fellow comrade in my adventures, rather than just a soulless, anonymous tool.
These collective modifications enhance this, helping to make the objects more personal, more special, more mine.
How about you? How have you modified your camera or bike to make it work better for you, and to increase your personal connection with it?
Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).
Thanks for looking. Please share this post with others you feel will enjoy it too. If you’re interested, this is what my photography and cycling life looks like right now.