Is your Camera is Better than Mine – Or Not.
I confess, at times I dream about owning a Leica digital rangefinder M-E; German design, hand built precision engineering – think of the pure joy of owning a Porsche, Audi, or BMW. The price of a Leica M-E is a little steep (new price $4,700), which is almost half as much as it cost me to travel around the world for 10 months. And, that price is for the camera body only, add a Leica Noctilux-M 50mm f/0.95 ASPH Lens – then tack on an additional $6,000.
I also dream about owning a Canon 5dMark III, or a Nikon 810 with a 36mp million pixel sensor, multi-point autofocus array, matrix metering, Full HD video recording, ultra high ISO, built in flash, external flash control and super high shutter speed (1/8000). Despite dreaming about the other cameras, I am not complaining about my Fuji-X camera, it is small, light, certainly more stealthy than a large DSLRs.
But the camera I am talking about is my newest camera. It is a F-I-L-M camera (yes kids, one of those cameras that you have to open to put in a small container and load the thin plastic sheet; if you loaded it correctly, you can take up to 36 photos, then remove the film and have it developed…). It is a Revue-3 rangefinder camera, consider it the great grandparent of the Leica M-E (copied by the Russians after World War 2).
Compared to the Leica M-E, Canon 5dMark III, Nikon D810 and my Fuji-X cameras – there are a lot of things the Revue-3 does not have have;
- It isn’t Digital
- No Light Meter
- No Autofocus
- No WiFi upload
- No flash sync
- No +/- exposure compensation dial
- No Auto white balance (or any adjustment for white balance)
- No adjustment for ISO
- No Batteries
- Not even a neckstrap (or anywhere to attach one)
- It doesn’t have any exposure modes (Program, Automatic, Aperture priority, Shutter priority, Portrait, Fireworks, Beach, Snow etc…), actually, it doesn’t even have any electronics.
Despite all the things it doesn’t have – Is your camera better than mine – or Not.
Most or all, the (Revue-3) camera doesn’t have anything – I am 100% in control.
I do not have a light meter – adjusting for the correct shutter speed an aperture are based on my knowledge, my experience to manually set exposure (shutter speed and aperture; there is no setting for ISO).
So – Really, is your camera better than mine ?. You decide. For me, the bare bones simplicity of the Revue-3 is my way of learning. There is no option to rely on a computer programmed to recognize light conditions to set, or suggest the correct exposure. Through experience and some trail and error – I am learning about exposure, about the quality and intensity of light, learning about the balance of foreground light and background light, learning about exposure in sunny conditions and exposure in cloudy conditions, and most of all learning about myself – how I see the light.
I do not expect that many of my exposures will be correct, or that the image will be in correct focus. What I do expect, is that the process of taking my time to really look at the scene before me, and examining the light, thinking about the balance between the highlights and the shadows, thinking about the direction of light and how it will effect exposure, thinking about shutter speed and how it affects exposure.
And, when I go back to using a fully computerized digital camera, it will instantly display the ‘correct’ exposure. Not only will my computer – (the one in my head), have a more in-depth knowledge and understanding of what all the numbers on the LCD screen mean and why they were chosen. My computer, based on experience gained using a camera without a light meter, will also be able to suggest other values for aperture and shutter speed to over-ride the computer in the camera for an exposure that is more meaningful to me.
And to those of you that snicker and giggle when you see me taking my time – taking a long time (sometime a long, long time) to think about exposure while you simply push the button on your auto-everything cameras…