Bigger Cameras

I need a bigger camera.

Growing up my primary camera was a Hasselblad, shooting negatives six by six centimeters. Medium format. Later my primary camera grew to four by five inches, sometimes to eight by ten, making negatives referred to as “sheets” because of their size.

Then my camera got bigger. I bought a digital Nikon with a sensor area the same as 35mm film. It did so much. You could shoot in low light, shoot in bright light, you could change contrast and color, crop and adjust dozens of parameters, all with a slider on the screen, another layer in the photo editing app.

Vice President Pence shown on a laptop screen, the laptop sitting on a table in a coffee shop.
Lots of parameters need adjusting.

You could now do all the things you used to do just more quickly and more efficiently, and moreover, it was soon apparent that you could now do things that were theoretically possible before but entirely impractical. Combining different shots of the same subject into a super high resolution image, for example. And things you could do now that you really had no idea how to do before, like shooting a series of images of the same scene with the same framing, moving the focus ring a little each time, and then combining only the in-focus parts into one hyper-focused final image. And so much more.

The cameras kept getting bigger. They got so good at focusing that you didn’t think of the auto-focus as a focusing aid so much as manual focus as the focusing aid.

I bought a Fuji, even smaller than the Nikon. It is so easy to carry, amazing colors without me doing anything to the images. It shoots video at a quality that rivals that of cameras costing tens of thousands of dollars just a few years ago.

And the camera in my phone does magic tricks, shooting handheld images at night, sending the results in real-time to my friends and family, to scores of complete strangers with a few taps on the screen, all while I’m standing in some desert, some distant city. My iPhone may be my biggest camera of all.

Handheld for ten seconds. The swirly lights do the old-fashioned thing, the buildings are sharply defined and well-exposed, defying logic and experience.

But these big cameras makes me greedy.

I want a camera that tells me if what I am shooting is good or bad, whether the idea is dumb, tells me whether it’s been done before. I want a camera that takes away the slogging through thousands of images, a never sleeping assistant that shows me winners and doesn’t waste my time with all the rest. I want a camera that does all the stuff for me that I don’t want to do, that can anticipate my choices, that pushes me higher. If my camera was bigger I could do more, do it better, think about it more clearly, be happier when I am doing it and be more satisfied when I am done.

I need a bigger camera. Perhaps we all do.

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