Posted in Writing Life

Camera Parable

Recently, I bought a new lens. It was a cloudy day with intermittent rain, but I couldn’t wait for better conditions. So as soon as I left the shop, I took my camera out of my purse, removed the jerry-rigged camera bag (a pink sweatshirt sleeve), and checked the light levels. With the aperture open all the way, more light was coming in than I’d ever had, even on the sunniest day.

The folks at Downtown Camera had recommended this lens at the time I bought my camera, but I was resistant. When I was a teenager, I got my first camera, a hand-me-down compact with a fixed lens, and ever since I could afford to get my own, I’d used a point-and-shoot with a zoom. There was no way I was going back to a fixed lens. But two years on, I noticed that my point-and-shoot (Panasonic Lumix) was taking just as good pictures as my DSLR (Nikon D3100) on a sunny day.

Steve, one of the guys at DC, said, “Any camera will take great pictures on a sunny day, even a $100 point-and-shoot.”

There was a good deal on a Nikon 35mm lens. So on that mild, rainy day, I walked the 5 km to Downtown Camera. When I left the shop, I couldn’t wait to see what I would see through the new lens.

This is what I discovered. A zoom lens sacrifices clarity. Sure you can stand still and see close or far, but to do that you give up your own vantage point, and, as a result, the amount of light you can let in. You can’t focus on something very close and fade out the background or to narrow your eye so that you see foreground and background with equal sharpness. A fixed lens makes you walk in and walk out. You can’t just stand there to get a different point of view. You move to a new vantage point and take yourself with you, and, in doing so, you can let in all the light you can handle.

(click to enlarge)
(click to enlarge)


Lilian is the author of Web of Angels, a novel about a mom with DID (multiple personalities). She's also the author of the historical novels, The River Midnight and The Singing Fire, about secrets, friendship and motherhood in 19th century Poland and London.

5 thoughts on “Camera Parable

  1. I think that the camera lens seems to benefit you highly. I think that it would be litter than the other camera lens that you purchased before. I really love the picture that you took with your camera! It really captures the cross between winter and fall. The snow looks so delicate on the leaf, that even a small breeze would damage the effect! I absolutely love the picture!

  2. Gorgeous picture! I am a completely hopeless photographer, I never know what will make a good photo. I’m sure, though, that learning to see (and to move to see better) really ought to be higher on my life skills list. Perhaps a good camera is what I need!

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