Change photography, change camera

2009, Photography

Recently I have frequently adressed my issues with purchasing new cameras and how I think about improving photographic skills. I have raised my concerns that changing cameras (and in particular for those who do so very often) might not at all improve their photography. Adopting a new camera takes time too.
Thoughts by Wouter Brandsma
But there is another thing with changing cameras. It will change your photography, whether you like it or not. If you did portraits with a MF camera, your photographs won’t be the same when you pick up a dSLR. The format (1:1, 6:7, 3:2, 4:3, etc.), size of film or sensor, different lenses, experience, all add up to that.

It used to be simple in the past. You were glad to have the money for one camera. You hoped the camera would last as long as possible (and they often did), and replacing the camera was only done when necessary. But now, people have more money to spent and they are trying more gear. Getting Canon gear and later replacing it with Nikon or whatever. Some replace their cameras now every year. Every camera has something distinctive and it will influence your photography.

When the loan DP1 arrived earlier this year I had a very good creative moment with the GX200. I tried to use the DP1 in the same way, but it was a very different camera. I had to change pace, find the flow again, and it affected my creativity.
Thoughts by Wouter Brandsma
Earlier this year I had some interest in a dSLR with a prime lens. When the DP1 came in the spring I kind of lost that interest for a while, but I have currently a new interest again. But the requirements are tough. The camera still needs to be small, I want to use a prime lens, and it should have a viewfinder. Autofocus is no priority, but the price should be low and the camera should still be rugid. Therefore I will try to work now with different focal lengths on my Ricoh. Instead of 35mm I will try something like 40 and 50mm lens.

A different camera often means different lenses too. It will change your entire view. So I need to be ready for it to make such a transistion a success. I often think it is much better to stick to your current camera. Make it work for you, grow into it, and explore your current creativity with the camera you have. And only switch or add another camera when you are really up to it.
Thoughts by Wouter Brandsma
Probably the most important criteria to change a camera, is because you want to make different photographs. I believe when you take photography serious you don’t need to replace cameras. I like it when a camera blends in with my photography. In fact you hardly realize how the camera looks like, it all feels natural.

All photographs by Wouter Brandsma

16 thoughts on “Change photography, change camera

  1. I agree 1000% with your views.
    I have a Fuji F31fd, Canon G9 and NikonD40 interchanging between them isn’t easy (particularly switching to the G9, after using the D40 view finder – its an all new ball game framing a picture in a LCD compared to a VF). Even the different sound of the shutters makes a difference to the way I feel while taking a shot(?).
    Finally you have some great images accompanying your posting.

  2. I know exactly what you mean! I am currently ‘learning’ how to frame things better with my Ricoh GRD II. The 28mm takes a bit of thinking, especially since DOF is massive, even wide open…Like the signs, BTW

    1. Thank you for your comment John. When we buy a camera we hardly realize the influences on our photography. Like you said. The view, the depth of field will change your photography. A new camera can give new creative impulse, but it can break up a previous creative flow too.

  3. I agree that you do not really need to interchange cameras. But it is nice from time to time and it is convenient. I interchange between the Leica rangefinders and a Canon G9. I have trained my eye with the rangefinder view though and only shoot with this view no matter what camera I use….

    1. In my opinion it depends on your intentions. It is likely that you won’t take the same photographs with the G9 than that you do take with your M8. I feel that my view on scenes doesn’t really change between the GX200 and the DP1, but the outcome it totally different and I need to be in a very different pace to photograph with the DP1. I guess it is a mood thing.

  4. I currently have 3 cameras [D-Lux 1, LX3 and DP2] and I like the fact that these cameras are so different from each other.
    Different options mean different sorts of photography, and for me that seems to be the perfect way to stay creative and try new things now and then.

    But I agree, if you really love one type of photography and you want to keep improving yourself, it’s probably better to stick with one camera for a while.

    1. Well, it has not to do with a particular type of photography you like. It has more to do with creativity and inspiration. When you change a camera in a time when you have a creative flow, it can affect your photography (positively or negatively). Or at least that is what I think.

  5. I think you are right that a different camera changes your photography and this is the single most valid reason to get a new camera. Not because the new camera is better or can do more but because it will be different and will make you change your style a bit to adapt to the camera.
    I personally like playing around with new cameras and find each camera forces me to see different things and use a different approach, this is fun at times.

    At teh same time it is good to use one camera and learn how to make the most of it.

  6. Thats really interesting. I got a new camera and feel my photography has imrpoved through the ability to look at the photograph right after it has been taken and decide if I need to adjust it someway. Yet on the one hand, my lens is shorter and does go as close in for far away subjects, which does get annoying.

    1. How often do people buy a new camera, because they want improved image quality? I believe image quality is for most the single most important reason to get another camera, although they hardly realize how much another camera will influence their photography. Select carefully!

  7. I think this is why I like/prefer a dSLR. I don’t have to change camera bodies to change what I can do. Instead, I change lenses. Primes. Zooms. Macros. They offer options and possibilities that cannot be easily (or at all) expressed by cameras like the DP1, etc.

    However, and maybe this is a bit odd, I have found a certain simplicity and excitement when it comes to taking photos with my new cell phone. No zoom (optical or digital). No white balance settings. Nothing. Just me, the subject and my interpretation of what is right or wrong when I snap the photo.

    It does seem to make me work a bit harder, to think a bit longer, about what I’m trying to do before I snap a picture. With my dSLR I can shoot and re-shoot (under most, but not all circumstances) until I get what I want as opposed to getting what I wanted to begin with.

    This system has its ups and downs as well though.

    Dammit Wouter! You’re giving me a headache with all this thinking.


    1. You see Mark. That is why I talk about simple cameras. To make you think more, to let you work harder, just to be more conscious of your photography.

      There is not need for headaches, just get out, take pictures, and then some more pictures 😀

  8. Fantastic post Wouter. Every amateur photographer would benefit from this kind of reminder every month or so.

    After five years of shooting at least 50 different (mostly 35mm film) cameras I’m slowly settling down on just a few, ironically mostly digital. Finding the GRD III and GX100 (with more than a little nudge btpy way or your photographs taken with each) has been instrumental in this simplification.

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