10000 Shutter Clicks To Happiness

10000 is a figure we seem to hear often these days.

Some say 10000 hours of practice leads to mastery of your chosen craft.

Others say 10000 steps a day is the key to good health.

A rather famous photographer said your first 10000 photographs are your worst.

It’s the last of these I’m most interested in, and how it relates not only to beginning to master photography, but also to fully understanding, embracing, and bonding with one camera.

In late 2011, after a few years of using Sony camera phones, I bought my first “proper” camera, a Nikon Coolpix P300.

Not ever being one who likes to splash out money, I remember researching it pretty thoroughly before laying down the £300 to make it mine.

In retrospect, eight years and quite probably about 308 other cameras later, that choice was an excellent one.

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Some of the main attributes of the Coolpix remain near the top of my essential requirements for a camera today.

Compact?

Check. It’s slim, trouser pocketable, and about as small as a camera can be before it becomes awkward to handle.

Good handling?

Check. Despite being a black slab reminiscent of the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey, the rubber strip down the front of the camera and the rubber thumb grip at the rear make it surprisingly grip-able, and the shutter button is exactly where you need it to be.

Shallow depth of field capabilities?

Check. The maximum aperture of f/1.8 and the 0.03m macro focus take care of that.

Great pictures straight out of camera?

Check. The P300’s high contrast mono scene mode was the first of its kind I discovered in a camera, and was the reason I fell in love with contrasty black and white photos. I’d not even heard of LightRoom when I was using the Coolpix, and thought “post processing” was something they did at the local Royal Mail sorting office.

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In the months that followed I recall shooting over 1000 pictures a month with the little Nikon.

Then in June 2012 I was given a Holga 120N for my birthday, and as I began to explore film more and more, the Nikon was used less.

But I still must have taken 10000 photos in my first year with the P300, and perhaps over 20000 now overall.

Which means I know the camera very well.

It feels like an old comrade, one who’s been alongside me through many a frosty winter morning and balmy summer sunset, and who’s seen and captured thousands of crumbling gravestones and frosted leaves.

Yes, the zoom sometimes sticks and needs carefully teasing to and fro to work again, and the rear thumb grip has been superglued back on more than once.

Yes, the lens and screen have been scratched, but still deliver lovely images, especially (and almost exclusively) in that high contrast b/w mode.

Even if I’ve not used the P300 for a few weeks, I can still pick it up and start using it in seconds, knowing what its strengths are, and exactly how to change anything I need to change on the fly.

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Ironically, despite setting myself up so well with the Nikon, the next few years from 2012 onwards saw me plunge into film photograph, buying and experimenting with dozens of cameras a year.

There isn’t a single film camera I have made anything like as many pictures with as the Coolpix, so I never felt quite the same instinctive connection and history.

Since then, there are a few digital cameras I’ve shot thousands of images with, but perhaps none yet over 10000, like like Coolpix.

My Pentax DSLRs – the K100d and K-m – saw heavy use this summer gone, and in the previous two years I used my Gang of Four extensively – Ricoh GX100, Ricoh GRD III, Panasonic Lumix LX3, and Pentax Q.

But still the good old Nikon – my first “proper” camera – remains the one that’s blinked its shutter open more than any other.

It’s also and the one that laid down a formula for how to choose the right camera and then use it exclusively to get to know it inside out, that I spectacularly failed to follow in the subsequent five years or so.

As I’ve returned this year to rediscovering that kind of camera monogamy – one month at a time at least – with my One Month One Camera project, my history with the little Coolpix has reminded me that 10000 pictures with just one camera might just be the ultimate route to photography happiness.

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Which camera have you used most in your photography life? 

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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17 thoughts on “10000 Shutter Clicks To Happiness”

  1. For me it would be the two I used in school. A Pentax K-1000 I used as a teenager, learning to use the darkroon, and after that got stolen,my Olympus OM-1n I used at Uni. This was my only camera for many years, and I used it heavily at school. I can’t imagine how many rolls of film have passed through it. It has never failed me and only required one service about five years ago to keep it in tip top shape.

    1. I’d love to know what it fees like to have used a camera for so long. As I recall, my school had no options for photography, and no-one in my family really had any interest, so it was a hobby I had to discover for myself years later (already in my 30s). I do often wonder what would have happened if I’d have had the opportunity to photograph at school, and how it would have shaped my photography future.

  2. For me my go to cam was Olympus C-750, uses AA batteries, excellent lens, great macro, able to process in darktable (linux), important form factor with lens shade (actually lens adapter ring) on permanent basis. Limitation is slow to focus and sub optimal in poor indoor lighting conditions. Despite these limitations used it almost daily for nearly a year. Just got an early x-mas Google Pixel 4 as a gift! Surprised at sharp output despite a small sensor, and great shots from “night mode”. Now in process of giving away my cams except for C-750.

    1. Ah yes, we’ve talked about your Olympus before, I had the C4040 a while back. Capable of great results! I keep having ads for the Pixel 4 pop up, at first I was amazed they’re on the fourth iteration! I would like to try one (or the 3 or 2!) but can’t justify the expense. Very interesting to hear yours has made almost all your cameras redundant!

  3. The Leica IIIf I bought in 1965 is still my main camera. When it was returned from a complete going over by Leitz in 2000 there were two notes written in different hands on the receipt: “Vielen Dank!” and “Good for another 50 years!”. Multiplying my weekly average of 12 pictures by 1/2 to account for my also using other cameras, and then by 2,860 weeks I come up with an estimate of 17,160 pictures (give or take a few thousand) 🙂

    1. I have nothing in my life I’ve used for anything like that length of time, so just cannot comprehend what it must feel like! I love that you’re still using not just such an old camera, but the actual one you bought yourself 54 years ago!

      1. It doesn’t feel any particular way. It’s just how I take black & white film pictures. It’s other cameras that feel different in various ways. The biggest difference is with my wife’s Nikon F6, particularly with her favorite lens – an auto-focus 85/1.4D. What a monster! We’ve joked that the only thing her F6 and my IIIf have in common is the rewind knob, and even then hers has a crank and mine doesn’t.

  4. The water droplets on the spider web are fantastic, but the real prize winner is the foggy lake scene!
    I have to tell you a funny one that happened to me this past week: I picked up the Kodak P850 and my thumb went right for the zoom lever on the back – but my brain didn’t. I stood there for awhile trying to remember how to zoom that camera! Every one I have is different, and the controls sure aren’t standardized even within a manufacturer’s line!

    1. Thanks Marc. There’s a reservoir a few miles away that I used to visit often early in the morning for misty and frosty shots, both with the Coolpix and the phone cameras I had previously. Must go back, I haven’t for literally years!

      I’ve had cameras where the zoom control is on top rather than on the back. Very confusing once you’re used to it being by your thumb. I had an old Konica film camera that just had a single zoom button on top, rather than the more standard in/out, Wide/Tele rocker switch. Every time you pressed the zoom button it went to the next step more zoomed in, until it was zoomed right in, then when you pressed it again it started zooming back out again. Very strange but if I’d have kept it I’m sure I would have got used to it.

  5. I had a Minolta x700 for over twenty years. But I did t take as many photos as I wish I had. I’m into year three with my Fuji x100f. I sometimes think of getting a different camera. But then I just change the settings. Great camera.

      1. So the main difference these days is you have a camera with you more often?

        I had an X-700 for a while (only fairly recently, perhaps 2015) and I liked it in many ways, especially many of the excellent Minolta Rokkor lenses.

  6. Beautiful lake photo Dan! My first SLR was an Olympus OM-1 in 1977. It become my workhorse for about 30 years in all sorts of trying conditions – extreme cold(-20 degrees in the Himalayas), dunkings in rivers while canoeing, and lots of other adventures, as well as doing professional work. It is aesthetically a beautiful piece of engineering, always reliable and has always felt comfortable in my hands. While I have been largely been digital these past few years, I have recently been going back to my old film cameras of late. The Olympus certainly is still a favourite, probably because we’ve shared a lot of good times together!

    1. Thank you for your kind comment Paul.

      Wow, you have some history with your OM. I can’t really think of any item in my life I’ve had such a long history with, I’m slightly envious of your commitment!

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