It’s no secret I’ve used more than a few cameras in the last seven or eight years, both film and digital.
Over this period, I’ve developed an early litmus test for whether a camera is worth keeping to explore further.
I call it The Yes Shot.
Now, this is purely related to the pictures I can make with the camera.
There may be – and often are – numerous other factors that mean a camera doesn’t stay in my possession for very long.
Poor handling, being too heavy/awkward to use, too limited controls, an irritating feature like flash always being on auto, and more, are all reasons I’ve parted company with a camera so fast it’s been like a round of speed dating.
Back to The Yes Shot – what is it and how do I find it?
Usually I’ll set up the camera in a way I know it’s most likely to perform at or near its optimum.
For a digital camera this is most likely at its native ISO, without being zoomed in too far (or at all).
With all cameras I’ll wait for a day with great light, as I think this is the single most influential factor in how good the images turn out.
The most capable camera in the world won’t perform as well on a murky day compared with a bright one.
This is even more true for me with my penchant for older digital cameras – usually 10 years old or more – that particularly excel at low ISO in excellent natural lighting.
Usually I’ll pick a composition where the main subject is very close, and the background distant.
This contrast, combined with using a larger aperture, forces the background to blur and makes the main subject appear in sharper focus than it would do if the depth of field was greater.
With all this set up, what I’m seeking is a shot that makes me smile, and shows what the camera is capable of.
Something that sets the standard and gives me confidence going forward, a benchmark to aim for in future shots.
As I said, if I can’t get a satisfying image with these optimum conditions and settings, there seems little point continuing with the camera, when I already have a core arsenal of cameras I love and that do deliver.
Are there any exceptions to The Yes Shot rule?
Only really when the camera has a different feature or setting or ability that sets it apart, and doesn’t necessarily produce a textbook sharp, high quality image.
For example the Lumix FZ38 I’m currently using has an interesting film grain mode that makes high contrast black and white images at ISO1600.
This mode doesn’t deliver the absolute objective best images the camera’s sensor, lens and processing engine are capable of.
But it does give an interesting look and atmosphere I really like, and was instrumental in sealing this camera’s place in my arsenal for the foreseeable future.
How about you? When you have a new camera, do you try to create The Yes Shot, something that confirms what the camera can do and inspires you to want to use it more?
As always, 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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