A Love/Hate Relationship With My Camera

It's been seven months since I bought my camera at the end of August last year. It was a big deal for me. I've owned several through the years, but only one that never felt like it had some sort of burden attached to it; my first DSLR, the Nikon D80 I bought on a whim in the spring of '09. There was something simple and innocent about my relationship with that camera. It was a great deal on clearance and I didn't know anything about camera technology or what it's limitations were so I thought it was the best thing ever.

The Vine - Taken with Nikon D80 and 50mm Nikkor 1.8 E series lens

The Vine - Taken with Nikon D80 and 50mm Nikkor 1.8 E series lens



Eventually the concept of video entered my mind and the Canon T2i was looming on the market as the most affordable DSLR to do full 1080p and I made the switch. It seemed like the logical upgrade. Whoops! From about week one of owning the camera, I felt like it was an upgrade in features, but a severe downgrade in functionality and ease of operation. I hated that camera.

Joy - Taken with Canon T2i and 18-55mm kit lens

Joy - Taken with Canon T2i and 18-55mm kit lens

So my plan was the Nikon D7100. It would be an incredible upgrade, bring back all the Nikon functionality I missed, and be a better camera. I rented it, tested it, made sure I loved it before I bought it. I sold my Canon and was about to purchase the new Nikon when my car died and needed a new engine. Can you guess how much it cost? Everything I had saved up for the Nikon and more!

At this point I had nothing. I mean, I had a Nikon FG 35mm camera, but that only allowed me to do so much. I randomly rented and borrowed different cameras. I used Canon, Nikon, Fuji, and Olympus, full frame, cropped sensor, and four thirds. I rented flagship models to test out and borrowed entry level models to just have on hand. I put $2,000 lenses on $100 bodies and $50 lenses on $3,000 bodies. I made it work if it was in my hands and loved the results most days, but I couldn't get over the simple face that I hated every day the camera in my hands wasn't actually mine.

Then came the day; I didn't have recurring car troubles constantly setting me back each time I saved up. I didn't have everything saved up to get the "ideal" camera I wanted, but I was able to buy a camera that would be mine, and that meant more to me than anything. So in March of 2012 I found myself holding a Nikon D200 that was all mine. It wasn't new. It wasn't even considered "good" at the time, but it had the design features I was looking for and the price I could manage. It still didn't have video which was a sacrifice I made despite desperately wanting to get into shooting video.

I loved that camera. I once again had one that was all my own and I could start regularly shooting with. I hated that camera. It still lacked so much of what I was hoping to achieve.

Taken on Nikon D200 with 35mm 1.8 G

Taken on Nikon D200 with 35mm 1.8 G

I loved it because in being cheap, it let me purchase cheap speedlights and wireless triggers; it let me begin experimenting.

My first day ever using external flash with the Nikon D200 and Yongnuo 560 speedlights

My first day ever using external flash with the Nikon D200 and Yongnuo 560 speedlights

In a poorly lit room, I was able to get creative, both in taking the picture and in Photoshop

In a poorly lit room, I was able to get creative, both in taking the picture and in Photoshop

I felt like I was finally growing, but still severely limited in achieving what I wanted.

I felt like I was finally growing, but still severely limited in achieving what I wanted.

I was pushing myself, trying new things, and never quite satisfied. Some say it isn't the gear, that a skilled photographer can get the results no matter what, but I knew where my images were falling short of my vision lacked in both. I didn't have the experience to fix what I saw was wrong, but I also didn't have the gear to gain that experience. In fact, my biggest limiting factor was just getting a shot in focus. Nearly all of my lenses were older, manual focus lenses that required a high level of attention to getting the shot in focus. Often I would have the shot in focus, but have missed the framing or the key moment I wanted to capture. Other times, I would have the moment just right or the proper framing with nothing distracting in the background, only to have missed the focus with a short depth of field.

It was frustrating to have 300 shots with a friend who was helping me practice or experiment, but only have 5 images I was proud of in both focus, pose, framing, lighting, all of it. Worse was the fact that I would have 240 images that were ALMOST what I wanted. Usually it was the fact that the focus was just a little off. Imagine having 5 shots perfectly in focus, but the person blinking then thinking you got the shot on the 6th because their eyes are open, but going back to the computer and viewing it full screen and realizing you missed focus on the 6th picture and now all those shots for the pose you worked so hard on are garbage.

Well, I kept pressing forward anyway. Eventually I moved to Tennessee from Wisconsin on a bit of a whim, and found myself selling almost everything I owned in order to get a place to live. That included my beloved camera.

I went almost two years without owning one before I decided that I needed to reinvest again. I found myself holding a Nikon D5200, severely limited in the design functionality I wanted, but also holding a key feature I was dying to get into....video. I had that camera all of about 2 months before I lost my job and needed to pay rent again. Needless to say I no longer owned a camera.

One of the only pictures from the only shoot I did with the D5200 that I kind of liked.

One of the only pictures from the only shoot I did with the D5200 that I kind of liked.

Again, I went over a year without owning a camera. I watched videos on lighting techniques, posing guides, concept shoots, tech reviews, and so much more to help keep me from going crazy, but it hurt as much as it helped because I was learning so much and unable to practice it. A few good friends helped me save for a few months until in August of this past year I was able to purchase my first full frame camera, the Sony A7R.

My first shoot with my first Full Frame camera 3 days after I bought it and barely felt comfortable operating it yet. Sony A7R with Nikkor 50mm 1.8 E lens via K&F Concepts adapter

My first shoot with my first Full Frame camera 3 days after I bought it and barely felt comfortable operating it yet. Sony A7R with Nikkor 50mm 1.8 E lens via K&F Concepts adapter

I was in awe, and in love with the results I was getting and what this camera was capable of! Sure there were a few features I wanted on newer models, but for the first time since my Nikon D80, I didn't feel limited by the camera in my hands (maybe some better wireless triggers for my flashes, but not the camera).

So why the hate? Well it's that time of life again. That time where life costs money and I don't have it. I moved to New York with some friends in December and to say that life has thrown some of it's biggest haymakers at us since then would be an understatement. Rent isn't cheap here and after getting scammed out of one apartment (and significant amounts of money) I'm facing the options available to get both a security deposit and first month's rent on hand before moving in somewhere. The obvious and "easy" option in front of me is to once again forfeit my dream for a while and sell my camera in order to have the security deposit. I don't want to, obviously, but therein lies the hate, the burden I feel in my relationship with my camera and my passion.

I love it for everything it is, for the creativity it allows me to unleash, but I hate it for the burden of life I feel every time I own one.