Photo Technical

Old film camera demonstrates old fashioned manual control – A69

Welcome aboard photo enthusiasts.  Let’s get back to basics, back to the popular acronym KISS.  I recently received an e-mail from an aspiring photographer asking if he could enter into a photography career with an inexpensive camera, or did he have to buy an expensive camera.

I could relate to his question.  I began my photography career with a 35mm Canon Ftb.  I still have this camera and use it to demonstrate certain camera functions in my workshops that cannot be likewise demonstrated with any digital camera, but it was in its time far from top of the line.

The features this old film camera does have is complete Manual control over the photographic process, that is control over a) ISO – the capture device’s sensitivity setting, b) the aperture – the ability to control depth of field, c) the shutter – the ability to control motion, and d) a meter – without which a proper exposure to set the ISO, Aperture, and Shutter is at best elusive.

Do you need to buy a very expensive SLR to have these features? No.  A good pocket camera costing a few hundred dollars on up will have these features, therefore technically you could begin your career with a pocket camera.

Of course, having good quality professional equipment is part of the goal to aspire to, but more important in this equation of becoming an advanced amateur or professional working photographer is your knowledge and skill level on which you can build your experience.  Having the best most expensive equipment doesn’t do much good without true ability.

This brings me back to basics.  Teaching my last workshop I noticed participants struggling to grasp how the ISO, aperture, shutter, and light meter work together.  So let’s review:

The ISO, setting the sensors sensitivity, is something that can be set before your shoot. It’s simple, is it daytime, is it sunny, is it nighttime? The answer to these questions will determine how to set the ISO, keeping in mind the lowest setting possible (usually ISO 100) is the optimum.

Next determine what you will be shooting;  Sports and other action or portraits and landscapes? The answer to this question will determine whether you priorities the shutter as in the former or aperture as in the latter.

The final action is taking a good meter reading to determine the right exposure, but  I’m out of exposure time for this column…to be continued.  Until then I take permission to come ashore.