The title of this article is almost clickbait. Almost. Let me explain.
An earlier article mentions that I was using a Fujifilm Finepix A101 when I decided to get serious about photography, and that my first ‘serious’ camera was a Casio EX-Z700. Quickly realising that I couldn’t do everything I wanted, I got a Canon 40D, my first DSLR, along with an 18-55mm kit lens and a 55-200mm zoom. Other cameras followed over the course of 11 years including DSLRs, bridge cameras, compacts, and smartphone cameras.
The 40D is no more but my Nikon D5100 is still one of my treasured cameras. The Nokia Lumia 930, with its 40MP sensor, was an amazing cameraphone, limited by its fixed focal length. My Canon S3is bridge camera had what was, at the time, a stunning 12x zoom, as did my more portable Canon SX220. Both gave me the reach I wanted as a candid street photographer, and a good range for other subjects. I had a number of other cameras, including the Samsung Galaxy Camera – basically an Android cameraphone without the phone.
These days it’s a Sony A6000 mirrorless camera that’s my ‘workhorse’. Although I still love my Nikon, the A6000 makes the D5100 look like something pre-stone age; not so much DSLR as DNSR.
I also have a Panasonic TZ70 compact with a 30x zoom, from 24mm to 720mm. It gives excellent quality images as long as you don’t pixel-peep. My Samsung Note 4 smartphone completes my toolkit; I went for the older Note in order to have a swappable battery, and the stylus makes processing (in Snapseed) easier.
So, why did I say that the title of this article is “almost clickbait”? Because it doesn’t matter which gear I use, you use, or anyone else uses. IT’S NOT ABOUT THE GEAR. Photography is about photos. Gear Acquisition Syndrome is about the gear.
Once you get good enough as a photographer, you can – and many do – make photos with a cardboard box with a hole in it. One photographer has recently been shooting photos using tin cans with holes in them, and the subject is – tin cans with holes in them (using a mirror). You can get excellent photos with a children’s toy camera. You can go fully manual or leave the camera in ‘green box’ mode, and still get good photos.
It’s not about the gear.
The Advantage of Raw plus JPEG
For me, there are three or four stages of learning to shoot mono photos, and I’ll talk about those soon. But one thing I’ve found very useful with the Sony A6000 is that, like many other cameras, it can shoot raw and JPEG at the same time. A waste of space? No, not when you can use micro-SD card storage of 64 GB or more. I shoot both but only copy the raw files to my PC. So why shoot the JPEGs?
The A6000 has Creative Style settings that get applied to the JPEG, so I can set that to “Black and White” to see how my photo will come out when processed as a monochrome image. This has helped right from the start of this journey. As someone who felt that removing the colour removed the life from a shot, but who is now a reformed character, I can understand visually what works and what doesn’t.