The ultimate camera?

I recently sold my Nikon D90 since I realized that I o/nly use an SLR-camera when I’m on vacation. In everyday situations it is just to heavy to throw in the backpack. While thinking about which camera to go with instead (an ongoing thought process of mine) it struck me that I have been a digital camera user for 10 years this year, and during this time frame bought and sold no less than 16 cameras (almost two per year). I have owned everything from the most simple VGA-resolution cameras like the Agfa ePhoto CL18 to professional models like the Canon EOS 40D with all kinds of accessories and tools.

The realization of changing camera almost twice a year got me thinking if I’m only in digital cameras for the chase of the next new model or why I take photos at all. My interest in photography started way back in the beginning of the nineties when I got to borrow my fathers analog Ashia Pentax Spotmatic SPII, which I still think is a very good camera. Before that I used a compact camera only for vacation and pet (our late cat Findus) snaps. When I got my hands on the Pentax and the fine lenses that came with it, I realized that photography wasn’t only a way of freezing a moment, it was a creative outlet as well. I started shooting more artistic and especially nature/landscape shots. It was always a thrill to get the film back from the camera shop and looking through the master pieces. The years went by and my interest in photography faded until almost 10 years later when my upper secondary school got a digital camera (the revolution!).

The camera was a Kodak DC200, a brick that produced grainy 640 by 480 pixel shots in bright light. Anything else than perfect shooting conditions and all you got was a pixel blur. That did not stop me for a second though. Even if the camera was school property, we were allowed to borrow it during evenings and weekends – a benefit I often took advantage of. Compared to shooting with the Pentax, this was like going back to my first compact, more of a memory freeze than an artistic outlet, but it was amazing to skip the whole development process and not having to pay for each shot. A year later I bought my first digital camera, a Agfa ePhoto CL18, more ore less the same kind of camera as the DC200, but I didn’t have to ask someone every time I wanted to use it.

The pattern I have observed while going through my list of previously owned cameras is that I’m torn between artistic expression and my love for advanced technology. All my friends know that I’m a technology loving, early adopting gearhead who is always on the hunt for the next cool gadget. During the last 10 years there have been a small revolution in digital cameras which have fuled my fire for technology by releasing new and more advanced models each year. I love to read reviews of new cameras, dig in user forums (like, look at 200% enlargements of ISO comparisons between different camera models and so on. Of course that has been very good for the gadgetist in me, but not always a great match for the artistic photographer. I say “not always” because some of the cameras have unleashed the same kind of creative freedom I first experienced with the Spotmatic.

In a couple of weeks I’m going on a trip to Japan and of course I want to take a lot of vacation snaps and also artistic images. With the realization that I’m often torn between creativity and technology (heart and brain?) I’m now hunting for a camera that I know will satisfy my artistic and creative side foremost. Right now I have a few contenders, but haven’t been able to decide yet. The Olympus E-620 seems to be a good compromise. It is an SLR, but it is very small and lightweight, especially if equipped with the Zuiko 25mm pancake lens. My main arguments for the E-620 is that it has a swiveling screen and built-in “Art Filters” (I know, it is just digital filters that is also easy to apply in post processing, but that’s thinking with the brain, not with the heart). Olympus will release another interesting camera in mid June as well. It is a micro four thirds camera in retro range finder style, something that sounds appealing to me. Another very interesting thing is something I saw on my last trip to Tokyo. It was a digital version of the Lomo camera Diana+ (see pic above). I have always been drawn to Lomo cameras, but I don’t want to hassle with analog film anymore. A digital version would be very nice. Will check it again on my next visit in June (think I saw it at the department store Tokyo Hands).

My next camera?

Either way I will soon be buying a new camera. The difference this time is that I will buy with my heart instead of my brain and hopefully snap a bunch of creative images on my next trip.

If you want to take a look at my photos, either go to my flickr page or my page at (a Swedish photography site). Of course I can give advice on the cameras I have previously owned if you are thinking of buying one, just send an e-mail (check the About page for info).

My camera history