The poet spies a beautiful looking camera with elegant vintage styling, and heads straight towards it.
Picking it up carefully, he gently closes his fingers around the curvaceous grip, taking delight in every last contour.
It looks right, it feels right, it even smells right.
This is a camera he connects with, one which speaks to his soul, and he begins to daydream about the many wonderful adventures they’ll have together.
Meanwhile, the mathematician is busily studying the spec list of every camera on every shelf.
She stops at a rather bland, black and bulbous DSLR that could have been made by any one of a dozen manufacturers in the last ten years.
The technical features are exactly what she needs, it ticks every box of her mental checklist, there could not be a more sensible, logical choice to make photographs with.
The poet shows the mathematician his choice.
She looks past the design, the aesthetics, and asks questions about maximum shutter speed and ISO, and its AF, Wi-Fi and GPS credentials, the things that really matter with a camera in her eyes. She remains far from impressed.
Then the mathematician offers up his preferred camera to the poet.
He turns up his nose at such an ungainly and unwieldly beast of a machine, anonymous black plastic and rubber bulging in every direction. How could he ever get excited or emotional about such an ugly device?
And thus the above scene offers a window into my inner dialogue virtually every time I’ve come to decide on buying a camera.
Sometimes the logical mathematician wins out, and I end up with a fiercely efficient and eminently practical camera like a Canon EOS 300V, which has absolutely everything I could want in a film camera, in a lightweight and compact package, supremely adaptable to a vast range of lenses.
But other times the soulful poet triumphs, making cameras like the Asahi Pentax S1a seem as beautiful to me as any camera possibly could be, despite it lacking everything but the very rudimentary functions like a shutter speed dial, and requiring considerable knowledge and commitment to use.
The holy grail must be a camera that exists in the sweet spot between logic and beauty, between practicality and emotion.
Just occasionally I find it, in the guise of a camera like the Contax 139 Quartz or Ricoh GRD III, both of which deliver stunning results and performance in a delightful and desirable form.
The results are as efficiently dependable as the experience is abundantly joyful.
How about you? Do you choose cameras with your inner poet or mathematician, with your heart, or your head?
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).
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