Why I switched to a Canon Ixus for street photography
I am a dyed-in-the-wool SLR or DSLR guy. I have been for over 40 years. I always believed anything else, other than medium or large format cameras, are simply toys - that is until a few days ago.
My belief no doubt started when I began my first job at a local newspaper and was handed an Olympus Trip 35 film camera. The reasons for this strange choice of press camera were two-fold: we cub-reporters knew nothing about photography, so a camera you simply pointed at the subject, pressed the shutter-button and most of the time produced acceptable results, made sense. But I believe the main reason was, the old guy who owned the newspaper was tighter with his money than a frog's backside and, because the Olympus was a half-frame camera, it meant he could get 72 images out of a 36-image roll of film.
The guy in the darkroom rolled 5-frame (10 images for the Trip 35) lengths of film into film-cassettes and that is what we were issued for each job. The Trip 35 was used to shoot everything, even provincial rugby games played in the town. This explains why the only rugby images, ever published in my newspaper, were of lineouts.
As I ran up and down the touchline, alongside the "real" photographers from the national newspapers, with their "real" camera and bazooka-like lenses, I felt humiliated and inferior. The silly little point-and-shoot was a neon sign around my neck that screamed: "minor leagues!"
As soon as I could afford to, I bought a second-hand Pentax 1000 and standard 50mm lens. This was followed by a 135mm lens and 2x tele-converter. I was on the road, I believed, to at least looking like a professional press man.
Point and Shoot (P&S) cameras were, to my mind, only used by housewives and dithering grandparents... and cellphone cameras...let's not even go there.
I continued to use my Nikon DSLRs for the work produced on JoziFolk, despite the fact they are large and awkward to lug around and seem to intimidate people on the street. Unless I was going out on a dedicated photo-shoot, I never had the cameras with me.
For a while I used a borrowed, mirrorless, Fuji X100 and, after a bit of a learning-curve, came to the conclusion it is a fabulous piece of kit, capable of producing phenomenal images. But, while smaller and less intimidating than the Nikons, it was still too large to slip into a pocket and was also, invariably left at home.
But my outlook changed completely when I recently attended a presentation by iPhone photographer, Zeno Peterson. His images, all shot with an iPhone blew me away. And I am not the only one impressed. He has over 17 000 Instagram followers! (http://instagram.com/zenography/)
I suddenly realized, I am a photographic dinosaur. For the last number of years I've clung to the idea, the photographic kit I need, must enable me to make huge prints, yet I can't remember when I last made a print. Sure, some of Zeno's images have blown highlights that would've been retained had he used a "real" camera but the more I looked at them, the more I realized, it doesn't matter. His work has a vibrancy and spontaneity about it that is immediate, exciting and captivating.
It was like a light went on in my head.
Long story short: I am too invested in the Android system to switch to iPhone and probably couldn't afford it anyway. But, at the same time, I am not interested in putting my neck in a financial noose by buying a Samsung Galaxy 6 or equivalent. So I made the decision to purchase a genuinely pocket-sized camera that will always be with me. In the end I settled on a Canon Ixus 145 that set me back the princely sum of R999 (about US$95). It has 16 megapixels crammed onto its sensor and all sorts of other bells and whistles - and I like it!
Yesterday I took it out for a few hours of street shooting and also used it to capture a couple of images for a blog I do for a client.
I am impressed. It has limitations, no doubt about that. Its dynamic range is nothing to write home about and it blows highlights but who cares? It allowed me to take shots without the subjects knowing. And those who were aware of what I was doing, generally ignored me, no doubt figuring I was just some old, eccentric, fart. I was even able to photograph people, without their knowing I was doing so, while they were telling me not to photograph them. (Yeah I know it's not politically incorrect...blah...blah...blah.)
I had fun. It was about the freedom to simply walk and capture moments that drew my attention, without bothering about the technical details. I guess you can teach an old dinosaur new tricks!