The Joy of Buying a Camera!

Posted on June 29, 2020

I bought a camera as a lockdown gift to myself recently. It is a Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ1000. It was chosen after months of the type of middle-aged dithering I thought I would never suffer from.

Impulse Purchasing

As a man of impulse purchasing,  I have almost made a career out of buying ill-advised clothes, gadgets, cars, and in one tragic case, a house with someone as unsuitable as the shit location it was in. However, in recent years, I can barely bring myself to buying anything.

I think it is because the temporary thrill of lashing out cash, is quickly replaced by remorse. So, with that being the case, £500 for a camera was utterly outrageous by my standards. It took me ages to press the ‘complete purchase’ button, but in a moment of hedonistic madness, I did it.

Of course, when it arrived, I was scared. I knew that the temptation would be just to ignore the manual and click on the auto shoot button. I don’t like manuals; I can never digest the information in them for long enough for them to have any relevance.

Learning to Use a Camera

So, instead I watched some YouTube videos featuring a chap called Graham. I have to say, he likes the Panasonic DCM FZ100 to levels some might find disturbing. Graham, when not engaging in his other hobby as the world’s most boring man, has created a host of videos that could send a screaming baby into a coma.

However, I am persevering with him. This is after being emasculated by passers by who know what aperture and shutter speed settings mean. I even met one cruel bastard who asked me what the depth of focus was like on this particular model. I tried to lie my way out of it and got myself in a terrible state. I was only saved by the dog trying to kill a duck in the River Anton. Good boy.

So far, I have learnt that shutter speed means how fast the shutter is, and aperture is how much light the camera lens will let in. Oh, and how to operate manual focus rather than just using the automatic button. The automatic button is for cretins only, with the very mention of it making Graham want to vomit up his lemon curd sandwiches.

The problem with divorcing yourself from automatic buttons is that you are heading into territory where you take a great photo and it ends in bitter disappointment. Believe me, a shit photo is so much easier to take than a good one. At least with an iPhone, you know what you are getting. iPhones are excellent cameras until you want to zoom in on something.

I did get lucky the other week as I went out with my dear old friend Rick, who knows how to take photos and knows how to speak to camera novices without expressing his disdain. I learnt quite a bit of good information from Rick but surprisingly, when I turned to him again at the weekend, he refused to help.

Tough Love

It was a kind of tough love moment, where Rick told me that the only way to learn was by trying and failing on my way to ultimately being a success. It reminded me of my dad abandoning me with my maths book as the algebra inspired tears welled up inside me. My dad thought that counting in letters was obvious and I could work it out if I had to.  He was wrong.

However, Rick was right. If you are to take up photography as a hobby, you can only learn by yourself. Listening to someone else is like pulling over in your car and asking for directions. You are still at ‘first right at the Post Office’, whilst they are four streets ahead of you, ‘just past the Royal Oak’. You carry on pretending you are listening, but the truth is, you wished you hadn’t asked.

So, I am enjoying my camera, and I am learning bits and pieces about it every day. If you are thinking of doing the same, make sure you have a bit of time on your hands and a YouTube friend like Graham.

I think I have justified myself but ‘impulsive purchasing remorse’ is still niggling me.

2 Replies to "The Joy of Buying a Camera!"

  • Norman House
    June 30, 2020 (12:50 am)

    Hi Bob,

    I had an old Praktika camera (sold last year on E-Bay). Everything was manual on that camera and I had some fancy lenses and filters. I probably took 1 great and 5 good photos on a film of 36. In those days it was not digital so you never quite knew what you would get back.

    The one great photo, where all the settings worked, was great but I still prefer average digital photos that I can edit and enhance with software. Maybe I’ve just lost my patience.

  • Alan Kettle-White
    June 30, 2020 (5:44 am)

    Hi Bob, I’ve gone the other way. I was a keen photographer and had decent cameras in the pre-digital era. Its enjoyable to look at the world through the lens and capture moments that say something of that time and place in your life. Somehow I fell out with it over the years and have been happy enough with the camera phone, and waterproof point and shoot for work. I still remember all the basics you are grappling with and have recently been looking at a new digital SLR. I too am dithering over mirror-less or conventional. Its the new black apparently but parting with a grand for such kit will take a lot more dithering.

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