Learning Curve

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.



    • These are the same brand, but I have made a brand switch before. I had always used Canon cameras, then after my Canon DSLR was stolen when my son was born I didn’t get a new one for a year and half, I ended up switching to Nikon because that was what my husband used & we already had lenses for it. The brand switch is tough too.

  1. I totally understand this – I had my Canon Rebel for 5 years and LOVED on it well. I finally upgraded on Mother’s Day to the Canon 7D and it felt like a stranger for many months. I was getting very frustrated and felt like I didn’t know how to take photos again! Just now I am feeling like I have my old friend back!
    Tiaras & Tantrums´s last post ..Christmas Countdown with Style

    • You sound like the Canon to my Nikon. I was previously using the D3000 which I think might be about the same or lower than a Rebel, my upgrade is to the D7000 which is on a similar level to the 7D I think.

      I’ve had moments of frustration. I missed what could have been a really amazing street shot when I was downtown because I couldn’t get me exposure right. It was of a couple looking at the back of their P&S camera after having a stranger take a photo of them together, they were smiling and laughing. The shot I got of the scene is underexposed and blurry. But I suppose we’re always learning 🙂

  2. There’s always a learning curve. These shots look fabulous. I especially love the last one. I upgraded from a basic Pentax to a more advanced one and while it’s still considered a “beginner” camera and it’s the same company, I have re-learn everything. Well, I didn’t know as much as I thought I did before!
    Nicole P.´s last post ..Nearly Wordless Wednesday

    • I think my trouble is, too, that I want everything to be comfortable. I was so comfortable with my old camera, to the point where it could have been considered an extra limb. I love this new one but I miss my old one a lot, more than I expected.

    • You’re going to love it. I didn’t mean to imply at all that I don’t love the new camera, I do. But darn I just wish it were all easier, I miss knowing what to do. I miss feeling like a badass with my newbie camera, instead of now where I feel like a newbie with a badass camera!

  3. Han

    I’m in exactly the same position – just bought a new camera (today!) and its SO different to the one I’ve been using. (made more difficult by the fact that I went down two levels when I sold my old one now I’m suddenly at the top of the range and I know not what anything does anymore!!

    Still all my test shots are epic, so thats good!

    Yours are looking fantastic isn’t it amazing to be able to take such great night time shots.
    Han´s last post ..Photo Time Capsule November 25th to December 9th, 2011

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