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Does size matter?

My Nikon 4004So here's what I had in my backpack at the start of the workshop: my Nikon 4004, a fairly low-end model even when brand-new in the mid-eighties. A 28-70mm zoom lens. About $100 worth of film: Fuji NPH400 and Kodak Portra 800 (color), Ilford HP5 400 (B&W). That's it.

The other guys pulled out Nikon D100 & D1X digital cameras, a Canon EOS digital or two, even the occasional film camera. Then they whipped out their exposure meters (hmm... never thought about that), their loooong zoom lenses, and who knows what all else. Most had tripods, and at least one brought his own lights, just in case.

I looked around, trying not to stare. My camera seemed so—well—dinky. Not only that, but being old, it's noisy—the motor drive attracted stares the first time I used it. But what was most apparent was my little bitty zoom lens. Everyone had bigger lenses than me. I noticed they all had lens hoods on them too. Mine seemed naked without one. This was not a good start.

Maybe it's just a guy thing, but it felt like my equipment marked me as a dilettante, an amateur, as if the money spent on hardware was connected with your skill in some way. Ridiculous as it may sound, I had a hard time shaking this image of myself, even though I know I've done some decent photography in my time. After an hour or so hanging back, watching more than shooting, I realized that I'd have thrown away my money and my weekend if I didn't get over this. I decided to heed the advice of the old saying, "It's not how big it is, it's what you do with it."

Except that in this case the size of your lens does give you an advantage: you can shoot close-ups without getting too close physically, something that Rolando pointed out models prefer. So now, added to my general feeling of not knowing what the hell I was doing, I couldn't stay too far back or my pictures would look like snapshots that Aunt Mildred took with her Instamatic. I had to get closer. My anxiety level increased. be continued.




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