My Photography Journey
Since the start of digital camera, I have interest in photography, since the process to enjoy the photography result is getting much more easier, just shoot and the result shown on the small LCD screen of the camera. In this article, I am going to flashback and share my photography journey of the camera I use and the learning process.
Initial Journey, Digital Compact Camera
My first digital camera is Olympus Camedia C-750 UZ, a compact camera with 4MPix with 10x optical zoom. Its 10x optical zoom was one of the powerful feature among other digital compact camera at that time. During this initial journey, most of the time just point and shoot with auto settings, so it was more to learn about composition (didn't know about rule of third, etc) with just feeling and own-judgement about whether it is nice or not. Purposely chose ultra zoom feature in order to be able capturing distanced objects. Mainly learning by doing, without basic photography knowledge, and still thinking if auto settings can produce nice results, why need manual or other settings mode. I learned other settings mode later when I start using DSLR camera.
My second digital camera is Canon SX30 IS, another compact camera with 14MPix with 35x optical zoom. So, basically just improvement in term or sensor resolution and optical zoom. Its optical zoom is powerful and quite steady at its max. Its 35x zoom is very useful to capture distanced objects and candid street pictures during travel. Auto settings was still the dominant settings since I still focus in learning about composition and sharpen my self-judgement of whether the result is nice or not. Meanwhile, the price of DSLR camera was decreasing and more affordable due to wider adoption and accelerated migration from analog camera by both professional and amateur photographers.
The DSLR Camera Journey
Selecting DSLR was not an easy job when you have limited budget. I need to do small research based on information available in the internet. There is three level of DSLR camera: entry level, intermediate/advance level, and professional level. Price is the easiest indicator, furthermore its capabilities. Professional level mainly consists of DSLR with Full Frame sensor and Medium Format. Due to their expensive price, at that time, they are out of my option. So, the choice down to either entry level or intermediate/advance level. Since I had been using digital compact camera quite some time to learn basic photography, I decided to skip entry level DSLR and jump directly to intermediate/advance level DSLR. After careful research and read reviews from various articles in internet, I decided to buy Nikon D7000 as my first DSLR camera. Later days, I am sure that my decision is right, because quite numbers of my photographer friends are using Nikon D7000 due to its toughness, durability, and quality of images it produced, especially for nature landscape photography as main interest. The complementary basic photography courses provided by Nikon Academy made me learn and understand the three basic camera parameters: ISO, Aperture, and Shutter Speed. It takes time and practices to really understand the correct combination of that three parameters. Apart from Auto setting, I started to use Aperture Priority, Shutter Speed Priority, even Manual setting.
Compact digital camera, even if you already have DSLR camera, is still needed as complementary for your photography travel, a small and light one with good capability. So, while you are taking photos with DSLR camera, your compact camera can be used to take also the similar and other view, so you won't miss the moment, and will be good for documentation as well.
During that period of time, Fujifilm launched new compact camera, Fujifilm X10, which has good capability to capture good image in low light environment, and with its f/2 lens, it is good to do macro photography with bokeh (sharp object, blurr background) effect.
With these two camera, I started the actual photography travel to gain more experience and learn more of photography skills from more experienced photographers. Well, photography is a continuous learning, so the more you practice the more you understand about how to use your camera and how to use the settings to capture good photos. During the time also, I started using Graduated Neutral Density (GND) filters, hard and soft. Filter is helping to normalized the exposure of light, especially daylight outdoor where there are so much light above horizon compare to below horizon. Decreasing amount of light above horizon by filter makes detail below horizon more visible by sensor.
Entering Full Frame
After around two years using Nikon D7000 (APS-C, crop sensor), I started to consider moving to full frame DSLR camera. If you have budget and already has sufficient photography skill, jump to full frame camera is a normal move. In general, full frame sensors have better image quality across the board, but they really shine when it comes to high ISO performance. Full frame sensor captures more colors and more details since, in photography term, it has great dynamic range. But, please take note, having great full frame DSLR camera doesn't always mean you can capture good image for sure. You still need to have good photography skill and good understanding of the camera being used. Some experienced photographers still be able to produce great images even without full frame camera.
Since I already using Nikon and already familiar of its usage and settings, by natural, only two options available that time: Nikon D610 or Nikon D810. Nikon D810 is definitely a great camera but the price is above my budget, so Nikon D610 is my only choice. Nikon D610 is considered entry-level full frame DSLR camera. Well, if that time, Nikon D750 already available, I will definitely buy it instead. Too bad, it is only available roughly 6 months after I bought my Nikon D610. But still, Nikon D610 is a good camera and I enjoy using it for years until now. Most of images shown in my Gallery were taken using this camera.
I made quite numbers of photography trip to various places in my beautiful country, Indonesia, and along the way I learned a lot from my photographer friends. I learned about slow shutter setting to capture flow, long exposure shots, how to capture milky way, how to capture nice fireworks, and many more photography skills.
The Rise of Mirrorless Camera
One of the negative factor of DSLR camera is its weight. If you are nature landscape photographer who need to walk quite a distance to a challenging spot, bring the heavy camera and its lenses is very tiring. And, when you are getting older, your spine is getting weaker so bring heavy equipments for long period of time during travel is not good for your spine.
Mirrorless camera is on the rise for the past 3 years. With its technology enhancement over the years and quality of the images captured catching up DSLR, it just a matter of time that mirrorless will dominate the camera market. Currently only Sony and Leica has full frame mirrorless model, but Leica is in its own league due to its high price. There is accelerated trend of migration from DSLR to mirrorless lately.
The launch of Fujifilm X-T10, 'little brother' of the great Fujifilm X-T1, with its affordable price, made me also join the mirrorless wagon (I sold my Nikon D7000 for this). But, this Fujifilm X-T10 still complementary to my Nikon D610 which is still my main camera. To migrate completely to mirrorless camera, still need to wait for more full frame model available in the market. Fujifilm skip full frame and jump directly to medium format, while Nikon and Canon haven't come out with competitive model yet to fight Sony. It is interesting to see what will the future of the camera in coming next 5 years.
That's all, my photography journey about the camera those I use over the years and also some learning process. Hopefully useful.