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Learning to Love The Camera You're With

Updated on January 10, 2015
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Nightcat loves photography and has been a hobbyist for decades who enjoys talking to other photographers and comparing rigs and photos.

Falling In Love Again

Remember the excitement of seeing your camera for the first time? It can be recaptured. This lovely lady is Reba and she's been with me a blissful eleven years.
Remember the excitement of seeing your camera for the first time? It can be recaptured. This lovely lady is Reba and she's been with me a blissful eleven years.

Recapturing The Magic

Hey! If you landed here you might be in the first stages of falling out of love with the camera you thought would be your new best friend. Maybe you just got your camera or have had one for a while and aren't sure about your relationship. In fact, maybe you think the answer is a trade in and several hundred dollars more, because you are fairly sure your camera hates you and is a worthless piece of junk, but I can tell you, thankfully, it isn't.

Your camera doesn't secretly hate you, it would love going everywhere with you, and chances are it's a great quality camera regardless of price range, age or capabilities. And, I've got some great news for you. Not only is the best camera the one that is with you as Chase Jarivs would tell you, but every camera has a lot to offer.

But how to reach a loving relationship depends on you knowing a few things first. To find the love you lost for your camera again can be easy, and once you find that spark you'll be off taking the photos you always wanted to. But before we get into our quick guide, here's something you have to know. Cameras are cameras. It doesn't matter if they are also phones or they cost more than a lot of us make in a year.

All cameras are worthy of the name and there really are no bad cameras. There are just bad matches because we photographers (and you are one if you have a camera) see something on a sales table or buy on impulse. Or your bundle of joy arrived as a gift and you've never handled a camera in your life. But even if the camera you have now you aren't even in like with, this guide can help you love your little technological wonder.

Just keep in mind that money and megapixels do not guarantee your personal happiness any more than brand name or sensor size and you'll be well on your way to photographic bliss. For those who want my credentials I'm a passionate hobbyist with decades of both film and digital experience, so let's get shooting.

And as always, all photography is my personal work. Enjoy!

Someone treated this little lady as a disposable, but even disposable cameras deserve love and respect.
Someone treated this little lady as a disposable, but even disposable cameras deserve love and respect.

Disposable Cameras

Despite the name you really shouldn't trash these little gems. Whether you have an older film one just waiting for you or a newer digital model these handy cameras have a spunky can-do attitude. Want to document a work site? They've got your back. Got a party or wedding you want fun handouts for? They are there for you. There's really no limit to what these little gems can do, so why the bad rap?

They get a bad rap because we photographers have forgotten photography is supposed to be fun. It's an art, not a science. And these little beauties would love to help you fill a scrapbook or two, go on vacation and do anything you desire, as long as you understand they are never going to have a zoom lens that can make out a tsetse fly on a water buffalo four miles off.

How good can these cameras be? My most beloved vacation photo of all time was snapped on the Fuji you see in the photo. OK, said Fuji was camera shy herself so you'll notice a model someone treated as a disposable graciously took her place. Seriously, she's hiding on me, when she turns up she can bask in homemade studio glory.

What most people love best about disposable is that they combine compact size, modest price (compared to most compacts) and the ease of not committing to a camera for longer than it takes to shoot that roll of film or fill up the internal memory card.

Disposable Cameras are right for you if:

You want a fun camera to take on a trip or use at a party or other locale.

You don't want to invest more for a compact film or digital camera.

You only take photos once in a while and would rather have someone else do the developing.

Prints, CDs, or whatever media your developer offers that appeal to you.

Already have one?

Make the most of your tiny but mighty friend by taking the time to frame up your photos in the viewfinder. Usually what you see is exactly what you get, so don't be afraid to move closer or farther away.

Figure out the flash. For indoor shots the flash can be your friend. Read the directions on the package or camera body, or watch a few videos on disposable camera tips. My tip? You can make an instant flash diffuser out of a lot of things. I carry the end cap from deodorant in my camera bag, but business cards work to bounce a flash off a wall.

Get those photos developed! And while you are at it see if you can get the camera body back as a memento of a special trip. Usually this isn't done but you never know if you don't ask.

Remember This?

Fun, but functional

Cute, right? This tiny wonder was a give away at a local steak house many years ago. And yes, this cutey is a functional camera.
Cute, right? This tiny wonder was a give away at a local steak house many years ago. And yes, this cutey is a functional camera.

Novelty Cameras and Young at Heart Cameras

You can get cameras in everything now, and I mean everything. Hair brushes, dolls, rugged cameras in youngster friendly casings. These cameras even do fashion, coming in blinged out bodies that admittedly put being able to take photos second. That said? They are still cameras and can be fun to have around even as your only camera.

Photo quality and features can really range as can prices, with cameras aimed at young ones often beating out novelty cameras in quality, but if your heart has melted for one I say go for it. Quality, after all is a very subjective thing.

Depending on the camera you should be able to be uploading your results to the web in no time, but if you still want prints make sure your camera accepts an sd or other type of storage device your local store can read.

But these cameras are there for you for selfies, fun shots of random stuff around the house and at parties if you feel like taking them. You can take one on a safari if you want, just know that expecting a novelty camera to produce the results the professional sitting next to you is getting with a five thousand dollar rig is vastly unfair to the camera. She's wants to party, she wants to get down. All she wants to do is take pics of you at a dance club.

Remember that if you love the camera photo quality is really not an issue. What really makes a great shot is not sharpness or megapixels, but the feeling you get when holding your camera in your hands. Or looking at your photo online or as a print.

Novelty Cameras are right for you if:

You are all about fun, silly photos.

You understand photo quality often comes second to an overall cute or blinged out factor. And you are OK with that.

You don't mind having a camera that is not always as portable as a disposable or compact.

Already have one?

Get the most out of your camera by visiting the manufacturer's website, watching videos and reading articles. Even the most humble of novelty cameras can produce photos you'll be happy with if you know what to expect of the end results.

Cameras With Phones In Them

OK, she isn't a camera, but you get the picture.
OK, she isn't a camera, but you get the picture.

Phone Cameras

Cleverly disguised as a mobile phone these cameras have gotten steadily better as time has gone on and they continue to improve as each new phone is released. Now thanks to Chase Jarivs there is even a book out showing you the powerful potential of a camera once thought of as a camera to document sites for professionals or take selfies at best.

Given what the phones and plans cost this is often the only camera many people can afford, and what the camera does caries wildly from phone to phone and app to app. But most should be able to serve your online posting needs quite well and as for prints they are getting better all the time.

Phone cameras are for you if:

You already have the phone camera.

You can't afford another camera thanks to phone charges.

You want a portable camera with the possible option of adding compatible lenses.

Already have one?

Keep shooting! Learning what you camera can and can't do, or more correctly, what you can and can't do with it can be fun. There are groups online now to post photos just for camera phones and there are a lot of fun apps out there to take your creativity to the next level. Remember, these are real cameras, they just happen to have phones in them so they can sneak into people's hearts and homes when they aren't looking. Shh.

This Looks Like Fun!

Small But Powerful

Don't let her size fool you. A compact you love is better than a fancier camera you can't stand.
Don't let her size fool you. A compact you love is better than a fancier camera you can't stand.

Digital and Film Compacts

You can still get a compact in both formats, film and digital, and these cameras are actually the most diverse family of cameras out there. Ranging from everything like the simpler yet still lovely lady shown in the photo that shoots film, to high end rigs with loads of features that used to only be found on DSLRs these cameras have a lot to offer.

Since this family is so diverse you might feel you missed out on certain features, but I say embrace what you do have. Do you have a zoom lens or a touchscreen? Do you have a compact that goes beyond auto? Or do you just have a bare bones point and shoot camera where you point, shoot and the camera does the rest?

These are probably some of the most beloved cameras since most photographers have used them and for good reason. Picture quality is often good or even great and you can get anything from an inexpensive brand you've never heard of to a several hundred dollar high end from one of the bigger companies.

Compacts were born to be carried around. In a purse or pocket they are ready to go anywhere you go, and unlike a disposable they will be around for years to come with minimum care. There are way too many in-camera features to list, but know that if you want a camera that does everything but is lighter on the wallet there is a digital or film compact for you.

Compact cameras are right for you if:

You want a small, easy to carry camera that is dependable.

You want a camera that will last you for years to come.

Things like zoom lenses and touchscreens make your heart melt.

Already have one?

Don't worry if it isn't as pixel-licous as the latest or more expensive model. Pixels and sensors mean nothing if you can't enjoy your camera for the camera it is, and trust me, even the most modest ones are pretty awesome. Take your time to learn all the features your camera has and take photos to experiment with different settings. It's your camera, take it for a walk and just shoot whatever interests you.

Spanning The Gap

Even at eleven years old Reba, like any bridge camera, spans the gap between compact point and shoots and DSLRs quite nicely.
Even at eleven years old Reba, like any bridge camera, spans the gap between compact point and shoots and DSLRs quite nicely.

Bridge Cameras

We've reached one of my favorite families of cameras. According to some snobs they are nothing but point and shoot cameras with dreams of grandeur. According to other folks they are DSLRs slumming it, but the truth is they are a camera species all their own.

Often mistaken for DSLRs they are not. The lenses will range from zoom to mega zoom and more thought is put into lens quality and other things you'd hunt for in a DSLR, but the bridge camera also offers a smaller size, the freedom from changing lenses and, well, a bridge between even the best digital compacts and entry level DSLRs.

Starting off at anywhere (depending on the make and model and local sales) from around a hundred or so and going up to over a thousand US these are cameras you choose carefully for the long haul and everyone has a different method. Some read spec sheets, some watch videos, some just go with a brand they trust. But just as many good matches come as Christmas gifts or because your heart melted at first sight.

Bridge cameras also bridge over a wide span of photographers. From everyone to the family photographer, to the dedicated hobbyist they are there for you. And as long as you understand they shouldn't be compared with that five thousand dollar rig you saw on safari they can be dedicated companions for decades.

My film zoom is seventeen and he was an orphan (trade in) and my older Kodak is going to be twelve years old in May of 2015. So expect a long term relationship, provided you take reasonable care of your camera.

But just like compacts they can have a lot of in camera options such as fun photo effects yet they still offer more serious options such as manual focus. Just be sure to do your research to make sure you know all your camera is capable of.

Bridge Cameras are for you if:

You are a dedicated hobbyist and want a more powerful zoom.

You just love photography but don't want the expense of a traditional SLR or DSLR.

Changing lenses is not your idea of fun.

You want a camera that does more than a compact but are OK if it doesn't match an entry level DSLR.

Already have one?

Please don't compare these beauties to that five thousand dollar rig you saw on safari. Bridge cameras, in general, have a heart of gold and want to be in the middle of the action with you. From family gatherings to wildlife photography they have your back. Give your bridge camera time, learn what he or she can do and you'll be amazed at how your photography (and love for your camera) grows.


Digital or film (shown here), these cameras give you the widest range when it comes to lenses and bodies.
Digital or film (shown here), these cameras give you the widest range when it comes to lenses and bodies.

DSLRs and SLRs

They are the Death Stars of the camera world, sure to make other photographers and lesser mortals take a second look. From the modest entry level body with a kit lens that runs several hundred dollars to the masterful rigs where you can expect to pay several thousand for a body alone, they are the prince and princesses of the camera world.

All of that royalty comes at a price, a price too high for a lot of hobbyists, so DSLRs (digital) and SLRs (film) get an unfair and undeserved reputation for being the camera for snobs or hobbyists only, but this isn't so. They can shoot family gatherings or work for professionals, it's all in how they are used.

And many of today's DSLRs, especially entry level ones run on auto like any other camera, so if all you have is point and shoot skills you can learn to grow into the other things they do later. They also have the best photo quality of any camera family, and even that kit lens you got in the bundle you bought in the Black Friday sale should do you well.

DSLR or SLR cameras are right for you if:

You want to become a professional or would enjoy taking photography classes.

You want a camera with the widest range of lenses possible.

You enjoy learning about techniques in photography that DSLRs and SLRs do beautifully.

You are willing to invest the time, not just the money to learn what your camera can do.

Already have one?

They don't bite, seriously. Take your time to learn how to use your camera and you will reap the rewards. Just try shooting on auto at first if your wee beastie is being temperamental. If this feature is not available there are great tutorials on You Tube for most cameras, and for almost any setting. Give yourself time and you'll be taking great photos in no time.

Remember the pros spend a lot more time editing after the shot is taken, so no, it is not fair for any company to show you a photo that was taken and worked on for five hours and tell you it came out of the camera that way. And if you aren't sure if you are looking at the edited results of a professional's shoot, feel free to ask!

I don't have a problem with professional examples being used per se, they can be inspiring, just so long as companies admit results will vary. For a sad and lonely fate of being dumped in a closet or traded in awaits many a camera that does not give such beauteous results from the very first photo.

Don't give up on that camera and she won't give up on you.

Mirrorless Cameras

As the name implies, mirrorless cameras do not operate an inner mirror but are the first cameras to be considered entirely computers in their own right. Photo quality is truly excellent in these cameras, and they offer the small size of compacts mated to an interchangeable lens system. These cameras tend to be right up there with DSLRs in prices, and depending in the model they may even match them in sensor size.

Mirrorless cameras are gaining popularity as the go to camera for enthusiasts who while they love their DSLRs, want a much more compact and lighter system to carry. How compact? A small bag can contain your mirrorless camera body and several lenses.

Mirrorless cameras are for you if:

You enjoy DSLRs type photography but would prefer a smaller camera with the same or close to the same lens options.

You enjoy compacts and want more range, but are not interested in a bridge or DSLR camera.

You enjoy the latest in technology.

Already have one?

Don't get discouraged if the camera you bought a month ago seems to not match up to the latest cameras rolling off the line. Megapixels and sensors size mean nothing if you have too many buttons and dials for your liking.

Like any camera type mirrorless cameras can range from a super simple style close to a point and shoot to a more complex camera allowing you more control over your photos.

Things to keep in mind

No one type of camera is better than any other. A DSLR that sits in your closet never being used because it isn't any fun even on auto is a bad match if what you really want is a disposable to use once in a while or that Hello Kitty camera you saw on eBay.

Photography is an art it takes time to learn. A lifetime as a matter of fact. And it should be something you enjoy learning.

More expensive does not make you a better photographer. Even though some companies cleverly imply that a DSLR with fancy lenses will make you an expert the sad fact is that those shots were most likely taken by a professional. Then edited. Oh, brother, were they edited.

If you really, truly dislike your camera or only have it to boast about and never use it, consider selling your little wonder or adopting out your camera to a photographer who would make a willing and most happy match. Cameras are meant to be used, it's what they were made for. If you find yourself suddenly attached when you think of never seeing your lensed friend again, congratulations, you just became a photographer. For real. That's the super secret test we tell no one about.

So have fun and get out there with your camera and enjoy life. It will do you both a world of good.

Great Guide To Some of The Camera Types Out There

Locomo, Anyone?

1 X LOCOMO Cute Mini Double Twin Lens Reflex TLR Camera Style LED Flash Light Torch Shutter Sound Keychain
1 X LOCOMO Cute Mini Double Twin Lens Reflex TLR Camera Style LED Flash Light Torch Shutter Sound Keychain

These little cameras are as cute as a button and I should know. I love my black and red mini to pieces and appreciate the cute shutter sound and flash of light when I press the button. Hold the shutter in and it keeps shooting.



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