Is the quality good enough?

October 23, 2008 | By Ben Peterson | Creative, Technology

I am a photographer. I have been making photographs now for 12 years ever since my mother passed on her 35mm Camera my father bought her at Sears. It became a passion and as with every new shutterbug. I thought every image I made was a new way of seeing the world. Like everyone in the world I eventually put down my film cameras packing them in to bubble wrap and shooting with the 35mm digital that I bought on my way out of college.

I loved those images that I would create with easy and no chemicals. Walking the streets of New York at night with my small tripod and prosumer digital camera I would push the boundaries of my own personal vision.

Over the past 10 years I have been deeply engaged in the battle and debate over the merits of Digital vs. Film. In a side argument I have been trying to convince photographers to upgrade their digital cameras always to the newest and best. I fell in to the trap of always running for the next best and brightest. I would defend to the death the 16.7 Mark II 1DS saying that next to the phase backs it was the best on the market. Until the Mark III came out then I turned my back on the Mark II as if it were a hippie Holga or the 3mp point and shoot my Uncle keeps telling me is the best camera on the market. I was one of the lost souls to the Marketing of the digital camera companies.

Then I found that I could no longer keep up with the Jones’s. With a wife and bills I can no longer skip meals to get the next best thing on the market. Uncontested with my underperforming digital I dragged out my old 4X5 camera setting it up in my living room much to the dismay of my wife. Looking around for what to photograph I did what every photographer in the history of photography has done when first trying out there camera. I went to the closest window.

For those of you out there reading this who has not ever shot with a 4X5 camera I am sorry but you may not understand this part. Pulling the dark cloth over my head and looking at the reversed image on the ground glass was intoxicating. The movements of that camera, which were so precise and smooth. Even figuring out the exposure and realizing I could go well past the F22 or f32 that I was used to being trapped with on every other camera going all the way to F64 put the butterfly’s back in to my stomach. I remembered what it was to be a photographer.

I am not writing this to tell you that people should toss out their digital cameras and replace them with an enormous view camera. That advice would end to many relationships. My wife is still asking me to put the camera away. Instead I think it is important for us to take a break from the race to get the camera with the “most” and the “best”. To forget about mega pixels and digital noise. Even if you’re a purest to stop taunting your friends who have digital cameras with clever quips about how there images don’t really look as beautiful as yours. Stop the debating and go to the nearest window look through your viewfinder and remember what you love about what you do. We make pictures. We capture moments. I am a photographer.


Picture above by John Rensten/Getty Images

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