The Camera Dilemma

Photo Gear Comes and Goes
Photo Gear Comes and Goes

Let me geek out for a moment.

With just hours to go before I leave for the airport, I still haven’t settled on a camera to bring on my Southeast Asia trip.

The batteries to both my Ricoh GR-Digital II point-and-shoot and my Nikon D200 DSLR are both charging right now. Running a distant third is the spare Canon G9 which I accidentally bought on eBay.

I love the small, compact size of the Ricoh, the 24mm f/2.8 wide-angle lens and its unobtrusive nature. I don’t like the shutter lag, which makes it feel like an eternity between the time you witness any fast-moving, would-be subject and the moment an image is captured.

Nathalie has traveled Southeast Asia extensively, made stunningly beautiful photographs and advised me to keep it light. She herself shoots with a Ricoh and suggested it or the Canon would be all I needed.

Yet the Canon, while eminently customizable and fully controllable, just never felt right in my hand. Maybe it’s too boxy and the shutter lag also too great for its relative heft. It resembles a little, metal brick. Plus, the 3:4 aspect ratio makes the frame more squarish than a standard DSLR’s 2:3 ratio. It’s sort of the difference between an old analog TV and a widescreen. Josh, who is also a photographer, also suggests going the compact camera route.

“G9, nothing else,” he said. “Trust me.”

My attempt to ask Josh for camera advice resulted in my accidentally e-mailing my other friend Josh (Krist), who wrote “San Francisco: The Unknown City.” He also agreed that a G9 alone was the way to go.

At the recent, excellent pop-up photography gallery opening for Luceo Images at 25 CPW, I polled a few more friends, who leaned toward bringing the heavy DSLR.

The Nikon feels like second nature. I could almost operate it blindfolded — and if you see some of my images, no doubt you’d guess that’s how they were made. Also, if I miss a shot, I’ll have the comfort of knowing it was my fault and not something I could blame on the equipment.

I’m not too concerned about the weight or the possibility of the camera meeting an untimely end. I busted a pricey lens in Tulum, after some photo shenanigans, and I stepped off the edge of a pool at a party on Long Island with the very same Nikon in consideration here. More recently, I recently had the opportunity to practice nonattachment with the loss of my primary G9 at a birthday party in Brooklyn a couple of weeks ago.

The dilemma is akin to whether you’d feel comfortable driving cross-country in a tiny, cramped rental car or your dream convertible — sort of. Will they both get the job done? Sure. Will you enjoy it as much either way? Maybe.

Yet another argument is that it’s the photographer — not the camera — that makes the image.

So really, it might come down to what I’m most comfortable with.

I think I’ll sleep on it.

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2 thoughts on “The Camera Dilemma

  1. I have Nikon D300, but I am still using my old cameras from 2004 and 2006. Those two are Panasonic “shirt pocket cameras”.

    Happy weekend.

  2. Go with the Nikon and a 50 mm f/1.4 lens, which is one of the lightest and quickest lens you will find (at least it is in Canon, so I have no doubt it would be the same in Nikon).

    You’re going to be traveling to some of the most exotic regions of this world and you’ll never know if you will ever do that again.

    Don’t you want the camera you’re most comfortable with?

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