Full circle with my street photography gear

One of the most frequent questions I get asked is “what camera do you use?”  I just realised that I have been through quite a large number of cameras (some expensive and some dirt cheap) in my 5 year street photography “career”.  I am not one who believes that a better camera makes for better images, but I definitely believe that having a camera that you love will inspire you to go out and shoot, and the more you shoot the more good images you make – it’s that simple.

In recalling all the cameras I have used over the years and why I gave them up I also realised that I am pretty fickle when it comes to equipment.  In fact I am the kind of guy that gets bored of things very quickly and always find an excuse to move on to something new.  That is clearly the pattern that has played out with my street photography gear.

I started my street photography with a compact Lumix LX3 digital camera.  It is a brilliant camera to use and I shot some of my best images in b&w with this little beauty.  I would pre focus and just shoot away using the LCD to compose.  The tiny sensor ensured that there was sufficient depth of field and hence critical sharpness.  But the high ISO performance was not great.  I then moved on to a 5D but although image quality was amazing I immediately found it too large and heavy to shoot with in the streets.  Followed it up with a Fuji x100 and loved using it but then slowly fell in love with the tones of film.  So then I got myself a Nikon FM2. A great camera and one that made me decide that film was it for me.  I decided to splurge on my dream camera – the Leica M6 with a 35mm cron.  As expected I grew to love this camera and i made some incredible images with it.  But slowly I started to feel that I needed more speed and bought a Ricoh GR1s. A real gem but i quickly found the fixed 28mm lens too limiting and moved to an Olympus 35RC which had shutter priority and is also an amazing range finder with a fast 42mm lens.  Alas I found manual focus was slowing me down a tad and I got myself the amazing Nikon L35 (Nikon’s first autofocus compact camera).  By this time I was often mixing up my camera use with the Olympus and Nikon compact getting a majority of my time.

It was then that my wife gave me the most wonderful gift ever – a beautiful baby boy.  Since then my developing room has been converted into a nursery and developing my film in the spare bathroom was a ‘shitty’ experience.  Thats when I read about the Sony RX100 and thought it would be great to have a digital compact to go with my film cameras.  So I bought myself one and have been shooting with it a bit and think I quite like it.  It has surprisingly snappy auto focus and decent high ISO performance. Using the LCD to compose feels a bit strange but it is so much quicker and more discreet as I can shoot from any angle.  And best of all I look like the quintessential harmless tourist with an amateur p&s digicam.  I am reminded of why I fell in love with the freedom and convenience of using a digital compact camea in the first place.  Back full circle!

I have also bought myself a 32GB card and will only download the images once the card is full.  Since I shoot a maximum of a 100 images a day even with a digicam it will take me about 2 weeks to finish a card if I shoot everyday.  But that never happens and so it is more likely that I will view most of the images about a month or two after I shoot them which lends itself well to objective editing.  I am still struggling with the tones of digital images especially in b&w.  I still love the tones of b&w film and will most certainly continue to use film as well…just not sure when I will develop the growing number of undeveloped rolls.

Here are a few images I shot with my RX100, starting with one of my 5 mth old son who led me to buying the camera.  90% of these images were shot on an enjoyable 2 hour photowalk with a fellow street photographer from Calcutta, Shounak Roy.

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And the RX100 even held up in low light, long exposure.  The image below was shot at 25 seconds and it was at about 1 am.  It was handheld balanced on the window sill so there was a slight compromise in sharpness (had to sharpen a fair amount in post which I usually don’t like to do).  The shadows are totally blocked but to be fair it really was pitch black darkness in those areas.  I think this is going to be the only camera I carry on my trip to Sri Lanka (and maybe the olympus 35RC if I cant resist my love of film).

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17 thoughts on “Full circle with my street photography gear

  1. Well apart from a very handsome son you have some very fine images here, Kaushal and lots of good humour. The mannequin shot is wonderful and the light bulb face made me laugh too. Whichever camera you use you see the world in a special way and make us smile. Thank you.

  2. good to see your boy in joy. A very convincing post with photos that speak. That’s a quite some cameras you listed. I never knew digital is your thing until i see you post with it. And honestly, your shots are notably sharper and 101% in focus when compare to your normal film stuff.

    This is quite a statement to those who shoots only film and can die without an optical viewfinder. G’day~

  3. cutie boy.. he totally deserves occupying your studio :-). Did i tell you i bought LX7. heard a lot good stuff about Rx 100 and i can see the quality is neat. Maybe you should consider going for Oly OMD when you get bored of RX.

    Enjoy your trips and keep posting.

  4. Interesting GAS story! But I didn’t get why you bought Sony RX100 when you already have Fuji X100! What advantages does RX100 have over X100?

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