Back in 2012 and 2013 when I was shooting up to 15 rolls of 35mm film a month, I used a range of cameras.
Although many, I was shooting them just about often enough to get used to their unique functions.
Plus, with the manual focus 35mm SLRs from the 70s and early 80s I was focusing on back then, once you’ve used a few, you realise there is great similarity in how they operate, and skills in using one can be transferred fairly seamlessly to another.
Far more recently, even with a major camera purge a few years back, I’ve found I’ve been using cameras less often overall, but the differences between them – a combination of DSLRs, Micro Four Thirds, and digital compacts across – have been greater.
Plus they’ve all had vastly more functions and options than the in comparison very primitive 35mm SLRs I used to favour.
So this greater complexity of each camera, the increased variety between models, and less usage overall, has meant much larger barriers have confronted me when I’ve tried to switch cameras.
Even though I have less than a dozen overall, and really enjoy them all, there are some I’ve not used in a couple of years, that I know would take considerable figuring out – and perhaps a dip or two into the manual even, shockingly – to become comfortable with again.
As a result I feel I’m a master of none of them.
Now there is a part of me that likes the challenge and novelty of trying to get decent images from a new to me (or unfamiliar to me due to the time passed since I last used it) camera.
This is, after all, why I went through literally hundreds over a five year period.
But these days the pluses of that variety seem to outweigh the comfort and convenience of being able to pick up a camera and just shoot, without too much mental effort and rummaging through menus to recall the optimum settings in a variety of conditions.
There are two solutions, both of them obvious.
First, shoot more often.
Whilst there have been other factors at play, I know that one obstacle to shooting more has been my confidence with using a camera.
When you know you have maybe an hour to go out and shoot, but 45 minutes or more of that will be re-familiarising yourself with the camera enough to find your flow in the last 15 minutes, it doesn’t often seem worth the effort.
Second, use fewer cameras. Preferably just one.
This is a well practised lesson for me, with numerous One Month One Camera experiments I’ve done in recent years. I know when I just use one camera, I quickly learn and lean into its particular charms and enjoy it more – and connect with it better and more quickly each time I pick it up – than if I’m choosing a different camera each time.
I don’t have any particular plans at this stage, I just want to be more mindful of the two solutions above as I move forward.
How about you? How many cameras do you use on a regular basis, and what’s the limit before you feel you’re spending too much time remembering how to use them, and not enough time just enjoying them?
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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