The idea of a small, compact camera has been one I’ve always been drawn to. In my idealism, I want to believe there’s one perfect camera for me. I know it’s not true, but a girl can dream, right? I spent most of 2021 trying out a variety, focusing primarily on the smallest, lightest ones. I didn’t keep any of the camera bodies I tried…but I did learn a few valuable lessons along the way.
First of all, I learned that I can make a great photograph regardless of the gear I use. And sometimes that gear is just my iPhone, which is neither the latest or greatest, but it is always with me. Technically perfect photographs can be stunning, but I think I prefer the imperfections: grain, softness, vignetting. To me, these add character.
I learned that I have to balance my wants with my needs and that no matter how beautiful or awesome a camera is (I’m looking at you X-E4), if it’s not comfortable for me to hold, then I’m unlikely to use it. That means it can’t be too big or heavy, but it also means it can’t be too small and hard to hold onto.
I don’t talk about it much, but one of the main reasons I switched to mirrorless cameras all those years ago was due to a permanent wrist injury. The weight of DSLR bodies was too much. Tack on a lens and I had to use a tripod or balance the camera on my shoulder because my wrist couldn’t support it for more than a few minutes. While less weight is important, equally important is a decent grip because it puts less stress on my wrist, allowing me some leverage to alleviate the strain.
I’ve learned that brand new camera bodies are a waste of money with new models being released every year, so it’s better to invest in quality lenses. Now, to be fair, I knew this one already, but I’d kind of lost sight of it in recent years. That’s not to say I want to own a cabinet full of lenses, but the few I do keep in my kit should be ones that I truly enjoy using and that will last for a long time.
I never anticipated that it would be so difficult to undo my decade long “pro” mentality and find the gear that works for me personally. I recently watched a video from one of my favorite YouTubers, Samuel Streetlife (cool, yes, but not his real name) where he talked about his own struggle with buying and selling gear, trying to find the tools that work for his changing life and changing photographic focus. It meant so much to me to hear that I’m not the only one who has struggled with that transition. After watching his video, I breathed a big sigh of relief.
I didn’t think current world events had affected my life all that much. Certainly not in any way that holds weight or actually matters. But as I read my posts over the past year, I can see how I’ve floundered creatively, struggled to find my footing with the new normal. Leaving behind a vocation I got so much fulfillment out of in the midst of world upheaval did make an impact and I’m only just now starting to grasp it.
Thanks for your patience and support while I’ve rambled this past year. It means a lot.