The best camera

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“The best camera is the one that’s with you.” It’s such a well-known phrase that I couldn’t find anyone to attribute it to, although I did discover that Chase Jarvis has used it as the title of a book (and an app!) about iPhone photography. I didn’t know about that before I conceived the idea for today’s post! Undaunted by the discovery that I am following an already well-trodden path, I will carry on regardless (and then I will go and read Jarvis’s book!).
So, I was thinking yesterday about the first camera I ever owned, a little 110-cartridge film camera. Those of you of my age may remember the little cameras where the case folded back to become a handle? Several years later I moved on to a Minolta compact 35mm camera. I remember still how luxurious it felt by comparison. That little camera saw me through my backpacking years, surviving Egyptian sand, Chinese rain (boy did it rain!) and then every other tricky condition nature could throw at it during my round-the-world tramp. Then I got a proper job, ironically finally earning enough to be able to buy my first SLR just as my travels became limited to four weeks a year. I was seduced to the dark side, aka Canon, by the advert at Balham tube station for their new EOS 1000. A fairly nasty bit of plastic but what did I know? Luckily, the chap in the camera shop, a family-owned local store (remember them?), did know and he persuaded me to get the 600D. I still have it. It’s a great camera and did sterling work for many years. It is still in perfect working order, with a half-exposed film inside (must finish that!).
I was not convinced by digital. Didn’t want to try it. Not proper photography, I thought. Then my husband bought me a 400D for Christmas 2007 and I was hooked! I now use a 5Dii with assorted very nice lenses. But a recent injury has meant I can’t handle a heavy camera very much or often. Luckily, the iPhone 4 has a nifty little camera and it is always with me. So, at the moment, it is my best camera. I do firmly believe that photography is, or should be, composition, composition, composition. Having 21 megapixels at my disposal had made me lazy, able to rely on cropping to improve average composition. Now I will have to think a little more before I shoot and that can only be a good thing.
All of the pictures in today’s post were taken with my iPhone.

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12 thoughts on “The best camera

  1. IN 1966 I ran away from home and spent 14 months in Europe, a year of that living in a bed-sit in Earls Court and working at WHSmith for 7/17/7 a week. My camera was a Kodak Instamatic – the kind with the plastic film cartridge and the rotating flash cube that sat on top.

    I still have an album of those fading 3×3 photos and I still think they are absolutely lovely – not because of how they look but because of what they bring back when I look at them – a time when was I was very young (but didn’t know it) and open to everything that came my way, as well as a glimpse at a city that no longer exists as it did then and at friends, some of whom are no longer alive.

    I too have made the journey through 35mm to a parade of increasingly sophisticated digital cameras (although I’m not up to the Canon 5D range and probably never will be) but I know that it still my eye and my heart that determine what will show up on my monitor after the shoot.

    I just wrote a story for the paper here about a young woman from this small town whose family is from Mexico and who has never traveled anywhere. In a month, when she graduates from high school, she will be traveling to New York to accept an award at Carnegie Hall for a photo she took that won first place in a national student competition. She took it using her iPhone. ๐Ÿ˜€

    • Thanks for this lovely, long reply, Debbie. You were brave, not only running away from home but running to another continent! Do you fancy posting a link to your story about the girl who took the winning photo, if it’s on-line?

      • I am sitting here laughing that you applaud my courage in running off to another continent and particularly to another English-speaking country, when you put on your backpack and trekked around the world. Although I will say that my parents were convinced that I was going into the Heart of Darkness and might never return, or at least not return intact. That said, the differences between here and there were far greater than they are now; England was still very much in a post-war condition (hence the $25 a week wages) and the US was already becoming fully immersed in the consumer culture that has now spread throughout much of the world.

        Unfortunately, our little newspaper has no online archive and only posts the current edition. That’s OK – you can imagnie the story being even better than it was. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. Really funny, but my first camera was a 110 camera. I moved to a Minolta 35mm film camera, and then to a Canon rebel film camera, and now to a Canon digital camera. We have a similar journey. And you’re right, one of the main parts of photography is composition. I don’t know if you’ve ever read The Photographer’s Eye by John Szarkowski, but every photographer should. It’s marvelous, here’s a intro to it: http://www.jnevins.com/szarkowskireading.htm

  3. Wonderful post Rachael, and such true words. We got our 400D’s on the same date and that to was what got me hooked on digital after shooting film for years before that:-) Love the photos you posted, I cannot remember ever seeing the last one! I love the train one and the wonderful light in the empty office one, both fantastic shots.

  4. I remember having seen a quote from a well-known photographer on a website , where he recounts about a dinner party and the hostess remarking to him something like: “I love your pictures, you must have a very good camera ” and he wondering what she would feel if he said (or maybe even actually saying afterwards): Thank you for the wonderful dinner , you must have a great oven/stove. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Hi Inge. Lovely to see you in here, and thanks for linking my post on your Facebook wall! I think that story is brilliant. I may have to repeat it some time. :o)

      • Hi Rachael, thanks, I Googled for the exact quote, here it is:
        “A photographer went to a socialite party in New York. As he entered the front door, the host said โ€˜I love your pictures โ€“ theyโ€™re wonderful; you must have a fantastic camera.โ€™ He said nothing until dinner was finished, then: โ€˜That was a wonderful dinner; you must have a terrific stove.” by Sam Haskins (though I couldn’t find out if this actually happened to him or he just told the story)

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