When I was a kid, I was constantly frustrated with the quality of the photographs I made with my cheap point-and-shoot and garage-sale cameras. Some of my frustration was due to my lack of skill in composition and in knowledge of exposure. But most of it was due to the poor quality of the cameras I owned.
Yes, I’m blaming my equipment. The new cameras I could afford were in the $10 to $20 range. That meant plastic and pot-metal parts and single-element plastic lenses. They were better than nothing for recording one’s life, and I’m glad to have those long-ago photographs. But man, do I wish the photos were actually sharp and detailed.
In the mid 2000s I bought a used Olympus point-and-shoot camera on eBay for $20, and was thrilled with the clear, sharp photos it made. My compositional skill was still garbage, but at least whatever I aimed the camera at came back sharp and colorful with lots of detail.
I bought that camera to document the road trips I was just beginning to take. Even though the total cost of a roll of film plus having it developed and scanned cost less than $10 then, I didn’t have much disposable income. Film and processing would be an ongoing cost. An inexpensive but decent digital point and shoot cost about $150, or ten rolls of film. The math was clear: digital was less expensive in the long run.
I ended up buying a Kodak EasyShare Z730. It boasted a well-regarded Schneider-Kreuznach lens, and got terrific reviews. Kodak was selling refurbished units directly at a good discount.
I made this image of a crocus in my front yard shortly after I bought the Z730. I had never before been so blown away by an image I made. The detail in the flower and the mulch, and the rich rendition of the crocus’s purple petals and orange pistil, impressed me deeply. I was pleased with the good separation of subject from background that this camera achieved.
I credit this image with drawing me into photography as a hobby. Thanks to my experience making and appreciating this image, I’ve sought to learn about composition and exposure. Over the years since, I’ve built some good skills in making pleasing photographs, all thanks to this crocus.
Get more of my photography in your inbox or reader! Click here to subscribe.