Stills & Cinema

The Guts and the Glory

A blog on the mechanics, philosophy, and art of image making

Reflection 2: When I shoot big cameras I do weird things

| Let’s just say, I have had my fair share of camera shooting

experiences |


And… yes they ALL shoot differently and have their own nuances.  (This post is purely about shooting experience. Image quality and post production are completely different subjects, I hope address in another blog post eventually.)  Even a Fuji x-t1 and x-t2 (successor) each have their own ‘experience’ even though they are so similar.  This ‘experience’ is actually incredibly more impactful on our impression of that camera than I think we give it credit for.  It’s a BIG deal. That first time you pick up the camera and shoot that first photo, it’s like a first date. You learn a lot initially.  However, it is the ensuing dates where you really learn those “nuances” and really learn to like them (or dislike them). *Disclaimer* Please don’t date your cameras folks! 


Here are a few things that affect the camera shooting ‘experience’ for me:

-Grip (This is huge.  I want it to fit solid in my hand. I want to be able to confidently shoot one handed)

-Shutter button placement

-Button placement (are they all easy to access? Maybe with one hand?)


-Can I access iso, shutter and aperture directly without menu diving?

-Shutter sound

-Shutter lag

-Viewfinder (everything I need here to see and more aka rangefinders)

-Viewfinder lag

-Viewfinder blackout

-Accurate exposure represented in viewfinder

-Function buttons

-Focus assistance

-Lenscap (yeah it is important) 

-Case (bigger than you think) 


So… there are DEFINITELY cameras that give good first dates but after a few follow up dates, you may find some incompatibility. This is where the big impasse happens. Are those 2-3 misplaced buttons or the way the shutter sounds or the way it feels in your hand, or does it make you want to drop it when you hold the camera enough of a problem to part with it? THAT is the question. 

| Decision time. |  


Now let me talk about another type of dating situation.  


Maybe you start dating a person where you lose track of time while hanging out with them and maybe they bring out your inner adventure and get you to do things you normally wouldn’t do.   It’s like they bring out your inner child and make you a better person.  They challenge you.   

| You know what I am talking about. |

Let me just take this moment, personally, I found that lady and married her so now I get that for the rest of my life.  Shoutout to my wonderful wife!


| All that to say, there are camera experiences like this. |  

(No, my large format cameras cannot love me like my wife can, this is not my point) 


I do have to say though,

Shooting my Fuji digital cameras are just awesome.

Shooting my Pentax 645n really is a breath of fresh air. 

Shooting my Contax G2 is just so easy.

Shooting my Nikon S2 is so fun.  




| I really get lost shooting my big large format cameras. |  


I lose track of time shooting with them.  The dance of grabbing my cape (my darkcloth and yeah it’s maroon, it’s my signature) setting up the composition, figuring out my movements, taking light readings, calculating bellows extension and reciprocity, setting aperture and shutter speed, closing the shutter, inserting the film holders, taking out the darkslide, and finally clicking the shutter to expose the image.  


And YES I do weird things when I shoot large format.  Depending where I am, I talk to myself.  It’s funny.  It’s like I am being my own sounding board about compositions, camera movements, and exposures and I chat with myself about these things usually. This happened when we were in Colorado.  I lost track of time when I was shooting in an aspen grove.  Two hours later I came back to the car.  (and my wife was so gracious to read in the car on the side of the road while I went out and played).  And it WAS so fun.  


Takeaways: 1) Find a lady or man you get lost with. (THESE ARE NOT THE SAME)  2) Find a shooting experience/camera that you get lost with.

Enjoy the photos.  Some 8×10 and 4×5 in there. X-Ray, HP5, and Tri-X.

Take a moment to subscribe if you really like this content.