Reading time: 2:30min | Why most photos will never be shot.
One thing struck me recently when a friend showed me his new camera: He was particular anal with his lens cap. There was no single second that the lens was not covered, even when the camera was raised to the eye. I can’t see a thing, I asked. He then uncovered the lens. But as soon as I attempted to put down the camera, he put the lens cap back in place. That’s like being blindfolded all day and only taking down the fold when you notice (how?) there may be a reason seeing might be worth the hassle.
I don’t consider myself a photographer. But I do know a thing or two about lenses and how to handle a camera. I’ve worked ten years in the industry as a cameraman and cinematographer (they love to call that director of photography, sounds more important) and I never, literally never, ran across the issue that a lens cap blacked my sight. Why is that? Because in filmmaking lens caps don’t take part in the game. Too risky.
Opportunities can be worth a billion or even a lifetime. That’s the reason why most pictures I take I shoot with my iPhone. It’s in my pocket, always ready to shoot. But there are times when my iPhone doesn’t cut the mustard. And that’s most certainly the case when aspects of ‘real’ photography become as important as the motive itself.
‘Real’ photography is all about the lens — the piece of glass that’s between the sensor and the environment’s light. A great glass needs a sensor of some size to shine. With the size of the sensor the camera grows; up to a point where it becomes a tool you only use for a particular job because it causes some hassle being the inevitable schlepping of the gear the major obstacle.
The sweet spot is where the artistic quality and the footprint of the camera meets. This sweet spot, naturally, depends on the users’ preferences. The Fuji EX3 pretty much does what I expect from a proper camera. (Why always these tiresome and soulless technical naming? Why not give the cameras proper names like Epic, Alexa, Amira, Venice, or Starlet like in the film industry?)
I spare us deeper technical insights and feature lists, but from a professional point of view, the little Fuji camera ticks many boxes. It can be operated all manual but also offers automatic programs for the beginner or in situations where you want to be quick. The autofocus is fast and does what one would expect. It’s small, lightweight and fits into the pockets of my jackets with a considerable small footprint—no excuse not to carry it with me. But foremost, its lens is a very capable personality with fast and silent autofocus. It’s a fast f-2 35mm lens that matches the human field of view pretty well. I bought it off eBay used in mint condition for 600 EUR with lens and battery.
Are there technically more advanced cameras out there? Yes, many. Are there other cameras that tick the same boxes for me even for much more money? Hardly. Do I put the lens cap on the lens? No. I lost it at some point along the way — I think in September 2019 at Berlin climate demonstration in a mix-up.
I carry the camera without a lens cap in my pockets or my rucksack and don’t care as I don’t care with my iPhone either. It’s a tool and should do what I want: always ready to shoot, quick and easy to handle and delivering convincing results. And it offers an extra plus for me: the little Fuji has a B&W mode that mimics a classic B&W red filter for contrasty, dark skies as closely as possible. A snapshot of a late summer afternoon in Mülheim Ruhr: