Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Canon(et) QL19

Today's impulse buy on eBay.

I really dig the boxy metal cameras of the 60s-80s, and this one is no exception. I found a posting for this in CL for $100, and knowing that eBay would provide more of a steal, made one bid on one in better condition, and got it for $10.28. Not bad for something that would look great on a shelf if it's non-functional. That's Plan B, anyway. I'm hoping I'll be inspired to learn more about photographic basics with this around.. also hoping that it works this time around. I held on to 2 Soviet-made Zorki's for a while, but eventually gave them away this year. With a bare-bones understanding of exposure, the rolls I took were greatly disappointing. Hard lesson is that you have to work those old things to squeeze out good photos. I had really hoped it was magic. And really, old cameras have lots of issues and need to be repaired most of the time, but I don't have the patience or knowledge for that. I figure that since people manage to take brilliant photos with POS Holgas and toy cameras, I can handle a few malfunctions on an old camera with an MSRP >$200. The QL19 comes with some sort of light meter (I think, I can't quite understand the specifications, too much math!), but even so, some sites suggest using your P&S digicam to determine shutter speed. Easy as pie!

The only thing that stinks is the 45mm lens size (50mm is standard, close to what the human eye perceives). I think I would prefer to take wide angle photos, and have been drawn towards the Ricoh Caplio GX100 and Panasonic Lumix DMC digicams for their wide angles/shorter focal lengths. If I decide I don't have the guts to use an SLR, I'll probably upgrade from my little consumer Samsung P&S to one of these.

I've also come to find out that cheap old medium format cameras can easily be had! And I'm not talking about Holgas or Dianas. (Although, there exists the Seagull TLR, which is made in China and seems moderately more reliable than a Holga.) Yashica TLRs, for one. You can find them for under $100 on eBay. I have to read up more on them, but they seem perfectly functional, if not a bit tedious to operate. With their old-timey looks, it makes for a more valuable, but also more expensive display object than the Canonet. I will probably force myself to hold off on this venture until I feel more comfortable with film, since medium format is a totally different beast. What a shame it is to purchase something and be ignorant of how to fully utilize it.

Another dilemma: film vs. digital? Film is the much more expensive choice, since I am learning to take decent photos on my P&S and then editing them moderately on Photoshop to create the desired effect. I've come across tutorials on how to lomo-ize or holga-ize your digital photos, but as effective as they are, it makes for a poor substitute. Not that I'm a film purist, but it's definitely more exciting to explore the differences in cameras than to manipulate photos. So all you need are funds and time!

Photography will probably never be more than one of my many interests, because of the money spent on developing film, on the camera itself, lenses, etc. and effort to master the art isn't really worth it to me. I'd rather be good at something a bit less popular and widespread, heh. I love to enjoy other people's good photos, and my various interests have always been so fleeting. Some of my Flickr contacts take such lovely photos that floor me. I wish I knew how they do it. What irks me is that it's the person behind the camera, and not the camera itself. How do I get better? And is it worth it? I figure I have my lifetime to work on my photo skills, so as long as I'm improving, there's no rush.

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