Imagine you’re a photographer who enjoys a compact, simple, capable camera that you can slip in your pocket and carry anywhere, and easily set up to get the kind of photographs you like, without hours of post processing.
But then someone takes that special little camera away and instead throws an ugly 10kg monster DSLR around your neck.
It’s huge, heavy, and cumbersome to use, baffling to navigate the menus, laborious to set up, and even then the images you end up with are RAW files that require extensive processing to get them looking anything close to how you want.
Plus you’re stuck on some machine gun aping burst mode so even a 15 minute photo shoot ends up with 500+ photographs to sort through.
It would be enough to make someone give up on photography entirely.
This, of course, is an extreme, exaggerated example.
But I suspect that most of us are already imposing a similar kind of limitation on our photography.
If not literally a super sized DSLR, then a metaphorical equivalent, something that repeatedly gets in the way of us enjoying our photography as fully as we can, and making images we’re proud of.
Speaking for myself, in the past, the ugly 10kg monster DSLR around my neck was the inability to walk away from eBay, instead compulsively buying cameras, lenses and film I ended up never using.
This behaviour and pattern also meant I was rarely shooting the same kit in consecutive photowalks, and constantly felt more like a camera tester than an actual photographer, making pictures that were merely “good enough” to prove that the camera worked ok, rather than images I loved and was proud to share as my best work.
I ditched this monster DSLR by purging my collection (multiple times) so I now have only a handful of cameras left, and know each one very well.
And by far the easiest way to be restrained in using eBay is to never go on it, just remove any temptation entirely.
During another phase, my ugly 10kg monster DSLR was scanning film photos myself, in an effort to have more control, and save money.
The process took so long, and with inconsistent results that needed repeated scanning, that I eventually realised I was shooting less and less film because I was pre-empting and dreading the hours each one would take to scan afterwards.
I decided that the few extra pounds it cost to have my film scanned by someone else each time was well worth the time and frustration it spared me, many times over. I sold my scanner and went back to my local supermarket lab. Liberating indeed.
A further ugly monster DLSR was having cameras and lenses in four, five, six different mounts.
Which meant not only that I was duplicating lens focal lengths across each mount, but it was taking me longer to decide which camera and lens to use than I was actually shooting the things.
This I overcame by honing down to just my favourite mount, M42, and only cameras that could use M42 lenses. Currently I have a native M42 Spotmatic F, a Contax 139 Quartz (via an adapter) and on the digital side a Lumix GF1, again with adapter, plus five M42 lenses.
As with the other metaphorical monster DLSRs I finally tossed aside, the experience was very freeing and energising, and I haven’t looked back.
How about you?
What’s the ugly 10kg monster DSLR that’s hanging around your neck, the one thing that’s holding you back from enjoying your photography to the full?
Have a think, be honest with yourself, then let us know in the comments below.
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