The Gadgets Page

April 23, 2007

Your Camera Does Not Matter

Filed under: Cameras — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

I cannot believe that I haven’t linked to this essay on the Gadgets Page. I have spent the last few years living by this motto and I thought I had shared it with everyone here, but a thorough search of our website proves that I have been remiss in my duty.

If you have been thinking about getting a new camera, you need to read this essay right now. If you have bought a camera that you’re not happy with, you need to read this essay. If you are perfectly happy taking pictures with your camera phone and its dime-sized lens, you especially need to read this essay.

Here are my favorite quotes:

The camera’s only job is to get out of the way of making photographs.
Ken Rockwell, Your Camera Does Not Matter, 2005

No matter how advanced your camera you still need to be responsible for getting it to the right place at the right time and pointing it in the right direction to get the photo you want.
Ken Rockwell, Your Camera Does Not Matter, 2005

Ken took this award-winning photo with a broken camera:

This is what he had to say about it:

I bought a used camera that wouldn’t focus properly. It went back to the dealer a couple of times for repair, each time coming back the same way. As an artist I knew how to compensate for this error, which was a pain because I always had to apply a manual offset to the focus setting. In any case, I made one of my very favorite images of all time while testing it. [Mono Lake under Pinatubian Light] has won me all sorts of awards and even hung in a Los Angeles gallery where an original Ansel Adams came down and this image was hung. When my image came down Ansel went right up again. Remember, this was made with a camera that was returned to the dealer which they agreed was unrepairable.

The important part of that image is that I stayed around after my friends all blew off for dinner, while I suspected we were going to have an extraordinary sky event (the magenta sky, just like the photo shows.)

Ken also points us to archangel_raphael’s Flickr site, where he takes amazing photos such as this with a PDA camera:

If Ken can use a broken camera to take a photograph that hung in a museum in a spot usually held for Ansel Adams, then you can take award winning photos with your camera. If archangel_raphael can take beautiful photos with a 0.3 megapixel resolution camera, then your 5 megapixels should be enough. If you have been coveting a new camera, remember, your camera does not matter.

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