Photography – Finding Happiness In Less

Once again in the last few weeks I’ve realised how for me, with photography especially, less is more. 

The Pentax K30 DSLR I used throughout July is a cracking camera.

But…

The ways I was using it was already greatly dumbed down, compared to its full capabilities.

So I decided for a few reasons to seek out an older Pentax DSLR, and bought a K100D for just £26. 

The K100D has a mere 6MP sensor, and it’s CCD rather than CMOS, which has in my view a far more appealing look.

It has a good enough viewfinder to compose, and an LCD screen on top to show your main settings, as well as in the VF itself.

All the controls I use often are in easy reach of my right thumb and forefinger – shutter button, depth of field preview (just rotate the on/off switch a further notch, itself a collar switch around the shutter button), AE lock, exposure compensation and the main control wheel.

With my eye to the viewfinder, I can operate everything I need to with the K100D without having to remove it from my face and look down.

Well designed, for sure, but more importantly just simply designed, keeping those core functions at your fingertips so they quickly become second nature.

I’ve been shooting it at its native ISO200. I don’t even know what it goes up to, perhaps 1600, but I don’t care as ISO200 is fine for me.

Compared with the K30, the K100D seems just the right amount of enough.

I don’t need the K30’s 16MP sensor, ISO up to 12800, 11 colour modes (all customisable), and eight digital filters (ditto!).

Neither do I need High ISO Noise Reduction, an electronic spirit level, or GPS. It’s all overkill for me, a collection of proverbial sledgehammers to crack nuts.

But even if I don’t need all of these functions, I still have to wade through them to switch them all off, or set to them to neutral. 

The K100D took me all of about one minute to set up, and aside from the core functions mentioned above, I’ve just got on with shooting.

I love it.

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But why do too many choices befuddle me with photography, and start to diminish the pure and simple immersive natural escape it can be? 

Perhaps because when we have fewer decisions to make, we have more time and space to ensure they are the most intelligent choices we can make.

Furthermore, perhaps then we are more committed to those better thought out choices, and give them more of our energy and focus to make them work. Rather than try something for five minutes, find it a bit difficult, then abandon it for another option that seems easier.

Fundamentally in photography, they’re aren’t many major decisions to make.

We decide what to include in the frame, where to focus and what depth of field and freezing (or not) of action we want (via our aperture and shutter speed choices respectively).

Some would argue there are only two choices to make – where to stand and when to fire the shutter.

Pretty much any decision beyond this takes us away from that beautiful, pure, immersive experience – the same experience photographers have been enjoying for 150 years.

Cameras with too many features and functions just force us into making decisions we don’t need to.

In photography, for me, there’s great happiness in less.

Fewer choices to make, means a more direct and rewarding route to the fundamental experience.

Which is what it’s all about.

How about you? How have you simplified your photography? How much choice is too much for you?

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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23 thoughts on “Photography – Finding Happiness In Less”

  1. I’ll try my own analysis:
    1). A lot of the ‘features’ added to cameras these days are just to convince people this year’s model is better than last year’s; they don’t actually add anything to the photographic experience.
    2). Even for the best of us, innumerable controls and functions are just things we can’t remember how to access even if we would use them.
    BTW I was doing an evaluation of my old Kodak P850 (5MP) but WordPress has quit working for me and I can’t finish the article.

    1. Marc,

      1. Absolutely agree, and I think the same applies to much technology. They often try to sell convenience and gimmicks over genuine good design and quality.

      2. As I said, there aren’t many variables that you need to adjust when making a photo. I would say 90% of the menu options on a modern DSLR or similar affect any of those core variables.

      Oh, what’s happened with WordPress? Do you use an app or just the website?

      1. I use the web interface, and it’s been problematic of late. The media input quit functioning for a while – the page closing down without inserting an image – but seems to be working again. The writing page however is abysmally slow to load or work. Nothing has changed at my end, so I guess WP ‘improved’ something. :p

      2. I’ve noticed sometimes when I go to the “My sites” it takes a little longer to load the default page with stats etc. But once I’m in the editor it seems fine. Did you upgrade to the new interface with blocks a while back? I’m still on the old editor.

      3. No I’m still using the old editor and web interface. I finally managed to finish the entry I was working on, but it hasn’t sped up any. I suspect they’ve ‘improved’ something which requires a browser update which hasn’t happened yet.

      4. You wouldn’t have thought the WP interface was that complicated or needed anything fancy in your browser.

        I literally just updated my OS yesterday as GooglePhotos was saying it wasnt supported any longer with my current OS.

        So I upgraded from OS X 10.9 Mavericks to 10.11 El Capitan. I’m still four versions behind the latest, but on my 2008 model MacBook I’m delighted it still works so well.

      5. I got one new post up, started working on another and … it failed to save. I don’t know what’s going on.
        I use a Linux machine that is up-to-date, but I also have two old Windows laptops (7 & Vista!). My wife has Win 10, and it sucks completely. We could say that computer OS was the first place where “change because we can” started messing up technology. They consistently fail to fix mistakes or make any real improvements, but they do make changes often!

  2. Not quite the same, but this is why I’ve been enjoying my X-Pro. I like the sensor, it’s very simple to operate, even for an oldster like me, and I only have one lens for it, so I don’t have to make too many decisions. That said, it was a magical day here and I spent the day taking pictures at a huge reservoir up north with my Lubitel, and a huge tripod. Great fun.

      1. Hi Dan, yes 120 roll film. I seem to have a “thing” for TLR cameras, but the Lubitel is really more like a toy camera.

  3. Go where the joy is: yes, that’s the most satisfying way. I’m an accidental photographer. The iPhone’s constraints and brilliance and ubiquity have opened my eyes to visual oddities and beauty at my fingertips. I love my commonplace toy.

      1. Well, that’s how I came to photography. Poetry was my main creative outlet for years, and I reached the point where I was almost exclusively writing haiku. Then it dawned on me that a haiku and a photograph were nearly identical on so many levels. So I started exploring photography more, as a more directly visual form of haiku.

  4. I’m camping in the Lower Tier of New
    York State right now. (I just found a cell signal.) I’ve almost finished the first roll of HP5 Plus in the Leica IIIg with another roll of the same film. So far I’ve only used the 50/2.8 Elmar lens. I’m setting the exposures using Sunny 16. That’s about as simple as it gets.

    1. The few times I’ve used a camera Sunny 16 only have been beautifully simple, very liberating. In theory, I could stick my DSLR on manual mode and do the same. But it wouldn’t be the same as using a film camera with no electronics or batteries.

  5. I have the predecessor to the K100D the Pentax *ist DS and it still takes very good photos at 6.1MP and it’s a joy to use.

    1. Christopher, thanks for stopping by.

      I’m almost positive that all of the 6MP Pentax DSLRs used the same sensor (a Sony one apparently), so your *ist DS will be very similar all round and virtually identical in the final image, except perhaps a slightly tweaked JPEG engine. I had a Samsung GX-1S before, which was a clone of a DS2, and the K100D is virtually identical.

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