Cameras and Covid

Life through a new lens - my journey with a new camera

By Sam Pedersen

We are all so lucky to have capable cameras with us, ready to go 24/7 on our smartphones. And with technology getting better and better every year, it almost seems the need for a designated camera is redundant. I would like to share my experience and reasoning why I decided to purchase a camera in 2020!

One of my first thoughts when it came to a camera purchase is that it can be a new tool to take me to cool and interesting places, unlocking some artistic potential in a time where life feels so stale. Through 2020 and quarantine to stay safe from Covid, it is easy to feel trapped looking at the same walls every day. I felt that if I got a camera, it would get me out of the house with a purpose to come back with some really cool shots. Photography can also be a great socially distanced activity so it feels like a twofer, take cool photos and stay safe!

This photo was taken using a 15 second shutter speed set up on a tripod, as any camera motion would disrupt the entire shot. The buildings and lamps stay in focus, leaving the long exposure to capture the blur of headlights as they pass underneath the North Avenue bridge over Lake Shore Drive in Chicago.

There are many great cameras available on the market and this can seem overwhelming if you are new to photography and don’t know where to start. I am lucky to have been around professional level photography for some time, but I felt as if I was starting from square 1 as this would be the first camera I purchase for myself. I wanted to make sure what I got would suit me well.

Online reviews and videos are a great place to start to get an idea of what you’re looking for! Sites have detailed descriptions and thorough explanations of the camera, and through those you can gather an idea of if it would be right for you.

I decided to purchase a Fujifilm X100F camera. This camera was first released in 2017, so I was able to find some really great reviews of users and their experiences after a couple years of shooting.

Lincoln Park Zoo Lights are in full swing, even the ducks in the water like to observe! Things you can see without going very far!

My main goal for this purchase was staying in somewhat of a budget, high quality features, and portability. Cameras and their accessories can get really expensive, really fast and for a novice like myself, I wanted to make sure I was starting at a good level of equipment that can help me achieve my artistic goals without feeling the need to be featured in the next National Geographic issue. I travel frequently so having something compact enough to take with me was very important. The camera body size is perfect for me and it doesn’t require any additional equipment to carry around, potentially needing a larger bag.

A feature I found appealing about the the X100F was its fixed lens. This means that the lens is built into the camera and cannot be taken off or interchanged with another, whether it be for zoom or macro close up shots, for example. When you look through the viewfinder, what you see in the frame is what you get. No zoom. For me, I didn’t find this to be a dealbreaker because I don’t anticipate doing much sports photography or close up shots of a far subject, but this could be a reason why this camera wouldn’t be the best fit for someone.
Another reason I liked the fixed lens aspect is that it forces me to put myself in the position to capture the shot I want, I feel more involved with the process of taking the photo. Also, while having this camera, it would stop me from thinking about what new lens I could get, avoiding another research rabbit hole!

This camera has 24.3 megapixels and a large sensor size making it easy to get very detailed shots while also having the option to get in a lot of light in low light or long exposure situations. The aperture ring on the front for light and depth control has a very satisfying click as you manually rotate it around the lens. This allows you the ability to get some really great shots with a shallow depth of field!

After I got this camera, I decided to make a trip out to Salt Lake City, Utah to visit a buddy of mine. Cameras aren’t the only reason to go to cool places, but they sure help push you in that direction!

Photography is a very personal art, so finding equipment that fits your needs and makes you happy is the most important part! A great starting place is thinking about what kind of photos you like to take and go from there. I’m looking forward to my journey and hope you find yourself on a new one too!