As a blogger, whether you want to or not, people’s comments influence you. I spent years taking photos on phones like the N95 or simple cameras, but received many complaints from readers saying it was time to step up a level. That my photography just could not compare to what was around the blogosphere these days. And they were right.
Blogger friends like Joichi Ito, started posting incredible photos. The same thing happened with David Sifry, Rodrigo Sepúlveda and Eduardo Arcos, all great photographers. Finally, suffering from peer pressure and healthy competitiveness, I decided to scrap the phones and easy cameras and learn the basics.
Rodrigo Sepúlveda gave me my first one hour lesson and concluded that I should use Canon. According to him, if I’m a Mac user, I’m a Canon user. But since I already had some Nikon lenses from a reflex camera that I bought a few years ago, I decided to stick to Nikon. Especially after reading Ken Rockwell’s–a great blogger who writes on photography— review on the Nikon D90. So I bought one.
The way I see it, there are two big problems with photography: money and weight. It all boils down to how much money you would like to spend and how much weight you are willing to carry around. Yes, I know it may sound absurd to speak about money while buying a camera owning a yatch and an airplane, but regardless of my success as an entrepreneur, I still don’t feel comfortable carrying around 15K worth of equipment, as my friends do. Rodrigo, Joichi and David use a Canon 5D Mark II and this camera alone costs around $3000. And we need to add taxes and lenses (they have about 4 each) that cost between $1000 and $10.000 dollars to that price.
Maybe I’ll do the same in the future, but right now my limit is set at $3000. I don´t want to walk around with more than $3000 around my neck. But even more important than money is weight. Right now, I decided to set that limit at 2 kilos. Yes, I am beginning to enjoy photography, but good lenses are incredibly large and heavy. This tele, for example, weights 2.5kg. And, as I already mentioned, my friends don’t carry just one, they have at least 4. So they walk around with 10 to 15 kilos in equipment, and sometimes tripods and other stuff.
So, taking in mind these limits, I bought a Nikon D90 for approx $1000 (plus tax) that weighs 620 grams. And I also bought two lenses, a special one for portraits that weights 500 grams, costs some $1000 and takes incredible photographs without flash (that ruins everything) called 85mm F1,4 and a Sigma 18-200 that weighs 310 grams and costs some $500. This is the only one I carry with me on the street.
I also bought a Canon G10. This is an incredible camera both for pictures and videos. It weighs only 350 grams and fits in my pocket, but not a jeans pocket, as it is slightly large for that. But it is a great camera which takes very good pictures. Almost every pictures from my last weekend’s New York collection that I share below were taken with this camera. I carry it with me because I believe that spontaneity and practicality are essential in photography. Not only you don’t want to carry a suitcase full of cameras and lenses, but also the subject you want to photograph shall loose patience if you change lenses and positions to get the best light all the time.
In conclusion, now I walk around with two cameras in my backpack: my Nikon D90 with the Sigma lens (the 1.4 Nikkor lens is better for night portraits and not very versatile) and the Canon G10. That means I carry around $2000 of equipment that weights less than 2 kilos. I’m not Joichi, Rodrigo, or David, and the truth is that right now I only know about 10% of what they do, but since I started with this in Morrocco, i made lots of improvements.
Let me conclude with some photos from my NYC department, where I tried the different lenses. And before my readers start asking, I will clarify the story of the picture with the two penises. This was made by a well known American pop artist called Larry Rivers and it criticizes American society and their obsession with “who’s got a bigger one” in the sense that people in America are always measuring their “success”.
Follow Martin Varsavsky on Twitter: twitter.com/martinvars