Cameras: The Bad

As you might have read in a previous post, I am fond of cameras, but…

Maybe I just don’t like change. Maybe I never did. Here’s a photo of me taken in my parent’s kitchen more than thirty years ago. I’m looking at a camera manual and it looks like I’ve just finished drinking a glass of milk.

The filmmaker caught reading a camera manual.
The filmmaker as a young man, caught reading a camera manual.

Here’s a photo of me taken in March 2013 near Ucross. I’m looking at the camera’s menu.

The filmmaker as a grumpy man in 2013, confused once again by a camera.

I can assure you that in both cases I’m bubbling with frustration. I’m not looking for a point and shoot, but I don’t want to fuss with a thousand different settings, either. In the recent photo I probably missed thirty hawks flying overhead in the time it took me to figure out how to adjust the exposure!

This frustration is multiplied when it comes to cameras that capture moving images. Once digital came on the scene, the rate of change sped up geometrically. HD arrives. Then everyone is talking about the Red Camera. Then someone discovered DSLRs can be used to shoot film. Holy guacamole! Suddenly no one is talking about the Red anymore. Canon pumps out a new camera a week, each one eclipsing the last. My camera, the one we shot the bulk of A Life’s Work on, is way way WAY obsolete. It is perhaps useful as a doorstop. Maybe.

All of this has to be edited, of course, and all of these cameras shoot in different formats, so that means there needs to be some transcoding so that you can import the footage into your editing software. This means you probably have to download some codecs, and … oh, it just never ends.

This is the bad. This is the stuff of filmmaking that makes me pull my hair out. On big budget films these are the worries of assistants; on A Life’s Work these are the worries of me.

There’s a learning curve with every camera I use, and it is longer, or steeper, or whatever… it’s taking me more time to learn how to use these damned cameras. Maybe my brain is shrinking.

I’m not usually the grump, that kind of person who pulls the “back in the day everything was better/easier/simpler” card. But sometimes when it comes to cameras…

Thoughts? Leave a comment.


10 Replies to “Cameras: The Bad”

  1. In my case I take hundreds of photo in any one day when I`m in the mood.I try to show the best of the best.Out of 500 photo`s I may get three or four money shot`s.As the years goes by and I come back to the bad photo`s i`ve shot I find three or four bad photo`s that now look good and are worthy to be called the money shot along with the story they tell.

    1. John,

      This happens to me, too, all the time. With photos, writing, just about everything. Sometimes you need to put something away for a long time before you can see how special it is.

      Thanks for the comment!

  2. about 20 years ago i was talking with a guy who was rambling on about computer-aided design and this and that — and i was feeling kind of over-whelmed. so i asked him ‘how do you keep up with all this stuff?f” and i’ve never forgotten his reply: “it’s like a conveyer belt — once you get on the belt and start moving along with it, you barely notice that you are moving at all”

    1. I think you’re right. My problem is I have a tendency to get off once in a while, and getting on is a real bitch.

      Thanks for the comment. And the company! Always good seeing you, even if the food gave me heartburn.

  3. I have a camera that I got for Christmas last year that I have even taken out of the box because I don’t want to deal with learning how to use it.

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