Small, fast cameras. Bigger is not better.

Wouldn't it be great to be able to spend the rest of your days walking through the streets of exciting cities and taking images of whatever caught your eye?  Sucks living in a car city.  Maybe that's why I like roaming streets crowded with pedestrians in other cities.  Here in Austin most of us live in "neighborhoods" or suburbs.  More people are moving into downtown but the street culture is very nascent.  I can hardly wait for it to catch up.  I do my part.  I head into downtown whenever I can and I patronize the cool little restaurants and bars that are starting to spill out to the sidewalks.

The photo above was taken in Paris with a small Nikon 35ti film camera and some Tri-X.  The camera fit in my hand and never had a strap.  It was easy to prefocus, the fixed 35mm lens meant that I had no decisions to make about lenses.  I could set a manual exposure and argue with the camera later when I went into the dark room.  I KNOW it is faster to use in this way than ANY autofocus DSLR with any zoom lens on the front.  And I know that the time spent in doing the process with a slower camera would change the dynamic.  I'm not concerned when shooting in the street that someone will be angry or will keep me from working.  I'm only concerned that the thing I saw, the emotion I wanted to capture, not be changed by people's realization of my presence, my intention or any other controllable parameter.

Everyone believes that their reality is the "real" one.  Except the Jedi Knights.  They knew that your focus determines your reality.   And my focus is locked at ten feet.
A more intimate image taken with a Canonet QL17 and tri-x.

Final word on the small cameras.  You will more likely carry a small camera that intrudes less on you.  And when you have it with you then you'll have more and more opportunities to connect with the things that tickle your subconscious.


Bronislaus Janulis said...

Several really great posts; but this hit me, as I no longer even own a "big" camera. The outdated G9 is my big camera, used to shoot some art objects for pay even, as they are going to the computer screen or web, though the raw files at base are pretty good.

Anyway, thanks, good stuff, though I'm nowhere as people oriented as you; nature of what I do.


John Taylor said...

Love this post! and even more it inclines me to a micro 4/3 system (currently have a G10)

The Jedai Priest said...

This is a jewel of a photograph. I must wipe the tear of joy from my eye to continue this post. You win all of our good-natured jousting with this photo.

Charlie said...

My thoughts exactly so I recently purchase a used Sigma DP1 to have with me at all times (it does fit in my pockets.)

Set the aperture and manual focus and shoot away.

Great post, as always.

Geir Ertzgaard said...

Strange thing. We talk about turning away from the heavy equipment. This again turns us on a discussion about new equipment... Was that the point here? It really understates what you are talking about, as far as I see.

kirk tuck said...

Geir, It needn't be new equipment. Maybe smaller, older equipment. I was thinking of several friends when I wrote this. Both are headed to Europe this summer. One was intending to carry several of the largest and newest professional Nikon D3 style cameras with big lenses. Think 70-200, 24-70 and others. The other was trying to decide between an Olympus e3 and a 12-60mm lens and another camera he already owns, the EP2 with the kit lens. I tried to make the point to both about the way the gear intrudes in the process. Both have other cameras that I think work in addition to their bigger cameras. We've been having philosophical discussions around that topic. I know most students don't have the luxury of picking choosing among an inventory of cameras to get just the right one for the task at hand but many, many of the people who subscribe here do. And since the discussion was ongoing in real life I threw it out here to continue it.

My advice works for me. Everyone else's mileage or kilometerage will vary.

Anonymous said...

I think the second photograph of the girl in the room is f-ing incredible and is better than 99.999% of the stuff I see.

The Photophile said...

I have an Olympus Trip 35 that is small and quick to use like that. I get what you are talking about. I normally set my focus beforehand and hope for the best as I go about.

Thanks for sharing on your blog!

Have a great day!

Anonymous said...

Both photos are stunning. Wonderful. One is so very intimate. The other is so captured chaos. Amazing seeing.

Dave Jenkins said...

After shooting digital exclusively for seven years, my personal photography has become facile and stale. My vision needs a thorough shaking-up. I've taken the Rollei TLR out of the drawer and ordered a propack of Astia 120 from B&H. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Yes, the Rollei is a big camera, as compared to my lovely Olympus 35SPn, but it can be extremely unobtrusive, as anyone who has ever seen Fritz Henle's book "Paris" will know.

Dave Jenkins said...

I really should have posted the above under "Beginner's Eyes..."

kirk tuck said...

I'd move it if I knew how......but chances are I'll bring the whole site down....

Lili said...

Hey Kirk, I love this image!
I quite agree, the camera you have with you beats the one you had to leave behind.
Even a phone camera beats Nothing.
I love the results I get with my Oly DSLR's but frankly even the e410 is a bit much to take with all the time.
I used to love shooting with my Minox 35, while it lasted, then my Ricoh GRD.
Sadly it too passed the way of all gear.
Lately I have been jump starting my Eye using an E-PL1 and 17mm pancake lens.
About the same size as your Canon QL1.7.
Nearly as quiet too.

Philip said...

I really like your film work here. It has a nice feel/look. My favorite camera for street photos was/is a Nikon F2.