[A Photographer's Notes] How a 12-Year-Old Camera Captures the Quick Shots
Why spend money on a camera that's 12 years old when I already have "the best camera on the market?" Actually, there are several reasons.
Ever since I dropped my Canon S45 compact camera in the ocean and switched to the Nikon D70 in 2004, I have consistently used what was considered "the best camera" at the time. Looking back this has been great for my photography career as it has always allowed me to produce the cleanest and sharpest images possible. And isn't that what we all want as photographers?
Currently I use the Nikon Z9 for my professional work. It is a beast of a camera. And again, it's one of the top cameras available in photography at the moment of writing this article. I love it, and will keep using it for work until it breaks or something better comes along.
Saying that, over the last year or so I have gotten an itch to return to the simplicity of that point and shoot Canon S45 I dropped into the freezing Canadian ocean almost 20 years ago. Trying out the amazing FujiFilm X100V late in 2022 really cemented this feeling in me as well. And as I had to give that camera back to my friend after a week, it forced me to search out something to fill the void I had been feeling.
In the end I picked up the FujiFilm X10 (released in October, 2011). And I have been playing with it for the last couple of weeks now.
Why Spend Money on a 12 Year Old Camera?
What is more important than the "what" of this need I was feeling though, is the "why." Why spend money on a 12 year old camera when I already have "the best camera on the market?" And with a plethora of lenses sitting in a bag in my room?
Actually, there are several reasons.
When I lived in Victoria, Vancouver and Kyoto, I would spend hours wandering the cities with my camera honing my skills in street photography. I loved finding new spots, meeting interesting people, and exploring the city I called home.
As I have gotten older, though, the 面倒臭い (mendokusai, or pain in the butt) feeling of lugging all my gear around town has sunken in. These days, I find I don't carry my camera around nearly as much as before ー unless I have a very clear objective in mind.
Especially with the sheer size of the Nikon Z9, I would never just grab it as I am running out the door, "just in case." With the X10 though, and many other compact cameras, I can toss it in my pocket, or throw it around my neck. It's just not a burden to me when going through my daily life. This takes away all those 面倒臭い feelings. And it allows me to keep the camera on me MUCH more than if I had just the Z9.
Simplifying Shooting the Streets
Another reason I wanted to pick up a camera such as the X10 is to simplify my gear and shooting process when out in the street. If I take my work bag with me street shooting I have several lenses to choose from. But these choices can actually become a burden and cause you to second guess yourself in some situations.
You could have a 50mm on your camera but see something that would have looked good at 200mm. But by the time you change lenses the light has changed. Or the interesting person you saw has moved on. And then you hate yourself for the rest of the day for missing the shot.
By limiting the gear I have to just the X10 with its 28-112mm zoom lens, I don't have the distraction of these choices. Still, I have the flexibility of zooming in and out when needed.
Fixed lenses like the fixed 35mm lens of the FujiFilm X100V can be great, but I am enjoying the flexibility the X10's zoom lens is providing in the street.
Quick Tip on Lenses
As a quick tip. If you do find yourself being indecisive with your lens choice while shooting street photography, I highly recommend picking just one lens to use that day. Just leave everything else at home.
By taking away the extra choices, you force yourself to work with what you have. And it can actually be quite freeing when shooting in the street.
Making Photography Fun
A third reason I wanted to pick up a camera like the X10 was that I wanted photography to be fun again.
Don't get me wrong, I love my job. And I love every opportunity to do photography. But as I mentioned before, that whole 面倒臭い factor was starting to suck out the joy I used to feel when doing photography in my spare time.
I didn't want to lug around my giant camera anymore. And when I did, I was always worried I might drop it, forget it somewhere, or even have it stolen. Losing my Z9 would cause a lot of problems in my life to say the least, haha.
So by switching to something like a FujiFilm X10 these worries are gone. I can take it out anytime, and not worry (so much) if something happens to it, as it is not my professional camera.
Also, the simplicity of the camera has been freeing. I am not so worried about the aperture, ISO and all the technicals, because these don't matter so much on a camera like the X10. Instead, I am now searching for light/shadows and focusing on composition.
I'm enjoying photography more with my heart (the feeling of the photos) and less with my mind (the technicalities of the photos). This really takes me back to the days of me wandering around my hometown of Victoria in the late 90's. I was just looking for things that I liked and caring very little for any technical aspects of photography. I think those were the days I truly enjoyed photography the most, and I feel a little of that joy coming back these last few weeks playing with the X10.
Small and Cool = Conversation Starter
Lastly, cameras like the X10 seem to be a great conversation starter when I am out and about in Tokyo. Being a 12 year old camera it is not something a lot of people, especially young people, are used to seeing. Just having coffee, or talking with clients this week, I have had several conversations about how small the camera is. Or how cool the design is, and things like that.
I love talking about photography, so it is great fun when someone takes an interest in the camera as it opens that door and allows for a natural conversation to take place. It's not just me yelling at random people about how amazing photography is, not that I would ever do that…
In the end I am super happy to have been able to find a camera that is both small enough that I can take it anywhere, while being versatile enough that as a professional I can still enjoy shooting. And don't feel I have compromised everything for a smaller package.
If you read this article and want to try one of these older cameras, please take your time and find something that is right for you. In the last 12 years a LOT of cameras have come out. And I am sure you can find something in your budget that will help (re)kindle the love of photography in you as much as the FujiFilm X10 is in me.
Good luck and good shooting!
- [A Photographer's Notes] The FujiFilm X100V: Is it Worth the Hype?
- #21 Real Issues, Real Voices, Real Japan Podcast – Action Photography and X Games in Japan with Jason Halayko
- [A Photographer’s Notes] Rain Rain Go Away… No Wait!
Author: Jason Halayko
Jason Halayko is a professional photographer specializing in action sports and portrait photography. Find his column, "A Photographer's Notes" on JAPAN Forward. And follow him on Twitter (@jason_halayko) and Instagram (@jason_halayko).
You must be logged in to post a comment Login