Camera Doesn’t Matter, or Does It?

Camera Doesn’t Matter, or Does It?

My body is betraying me. I knew that it would happen one day but I never thought it would be this soon. I used to say that the camera doesn’t matter when taking a photo, but this past May I realized that *it does matter* in some situations.

Let me explain, in a long roundabout way.

I put my cameras down right before the COVID-19 pandemic. I was busy with work and so were all my friends. We tried to schedule photo walks and shoots together but the timing never worked out. Then Covid hit and no one was going anywhere.

But this time I couldn’t get my eyes to work right.

Then my friend hosted a lighting for the human form” workshop and asked me to come down to shoot the model he hired and spend a few hours with her so she could make some extra money because Covid hurt so many working creatives.

I said sure and we made a plan to shoot at his studio in May.

The day came and I drove down to Pennsylvania with my trusty film and digital cameras.

I got there, talked with the model, and set up. I started with my film camera first and after the first few frames, I realized something was wrong.

My film camera is all manual. There is no autofocus, there is no auto metering, it’s a pure blissful black box that holds the film. You load the film, attach a lens, set up the scene, do your metering, and click the shutter.

But this time I couldn’t get my eyes to work right. I felt that I couldn’t focus sharply on the model’s eyes, a must if you do portraits.

My eyes were failing me. A mere 18 months ago I could manually focus this manual camera and get sharp photos, but now?

I decided to switch to digital a bit earlier in the shoot, thinking the autofocus would work better, and it did but not as much as I thought it would help.

It was a frustrating mess for me.

I rarely upgrade digital gear because I find it to be an insane cost and feel like you’re constantly forced” to upgrade.

Up until August of this year, I shot with a Canon 50D. The camera was released in 2008 and I think I bought it in 2009, so it’s 12 years old. It’s a prehistoric relic in the digital photography world.

My 50d worked better but due to the low light situations, I had to crank up the ISO and it generated a lot of noise. On top of that, the autofocus worked better but it didn’t have eye and face focus so a lot of my images could’ve been sharper too.

It was a frustrating mess for me.


It made me re-evaluate my camera doesn’t matter” saying. The camera does matter if it has a functionality that helps you in your work.

Working with my Mamiya RZ is a beautiful dream if you have the time to set things up in a studio. For a model shoot, a camera that has eye and face focus can get you sharper photos faster.

I used to say that the camera doesn’t matter…

I finally had to face the fact that *I’m getting older* and that my body will start failing me. Of course, I’ll get glasses or contacts, but I have to rely on technology to stay in the photo game.”

So I had to do what I had to do an upgrade.

In September I bought a mirrorless full-frame digital camera with eye and face focus and in-body stabilization.

I used to say that the camera doesn’t matter, and I still believe in the spirit of that. You should always set up your scene, learn about light, pose your model, know what speed film (er, ISO) you should use, aperture, metering, and all the important things of making a photo *before you press the shutter.*

That’s the one thing that stayed with me in my film photography days, do all the work outside of the camera first before you take the photo.

But now I realize that the camera does matter if it helps you. The camera does matter with new technology and better sensors. It helps you to push the ISO higher so you can get a lower light shot without heavy grain or noise. It can make your workflow simpler and faster.

And it can help a man with failing eyes get in-focus photos.


February 19, 2024