I was lucky enough, a few weeks ago, to be able to get a good deal on a refurbished camera. It’s an upgrade from the one I used previously and before it arrived I was excited, but also nervous. Part of you thinks (or secretly hopes, even though you know better) that when you upgrade to a “better” camera, everything is going to magically be better. You think your photos will look amazing and that you’ll know exactly what you’re doing.
Perhaps that is the case for some people, but it hasn’t been for me. This learning curve has been long and steep, it’s going to take me a while. I’ve missed any number of great shots because I’ve been fiddling around with various settings. I feel like I’m starting from the beginning all over again.
The thing with my old camera wasn’t necessarily that it was an amazing camera to begin with, it was adequate for most things I wanted it to do. But I had that camera for almost four years, during which I got to know every little last detail of it inside out. I didn’t need to look at any part of it to change settings, I could do it by feel and by memory. I knew exactly what it could and couldn’t do, I knew all of its quirks and how to get around them or exploit them.
This new-to-me camera, it feels like a stranger. I don’t know anything about it, I keep pausing to adjust things and missing my shot. I keep ruining my shot because I don’t yet know what it can and cannot do, even after a few weeks of using it. My fingers move on the camera to press a button or adjust a dial where my body remembers it should be and they hit the wrong place, I’m still remembering where the buttons and dials are located on the old camera.
I’ve been using the new camera a lot though, as if I can somehow fast-track my way to the same familiarity. Perhaps I can, but I’m not there yet by any means.
I’ve been trying to push at its limits. I took all of these photographs in downtown Chicago after the sun had set, something that I couldn’t have done with the old camera unless I’d wanted to drag around a tripod as well (incidentally, you’re not permitted to set up a tripod on the streets downtown). I spent a lot more time downtown and took a lot more photos than these here might imply. There were a lot of missed moments, blurry moments, under exposed moments.
The camera has video too, which I haven’t yet used. It interested me because I haven’t done much of anything with video since my days as a prospective film & theatre student. I ended up switching and studying English Literature instead, but that’s a different story. I think after I feel good enough about using the camera I may attempt to see what I can do with the video portion too.
I know I’ll get it eventually. Perhaps it’ll take another 4 years before I really know the camera as well as I knew the old one, but that’s fine. I’ll just keep practicing until I get it right.
I can’t be the only one who has had difficulty learning to use a different or “new” camera? Some of you make it all look so easy.