July 18, 2011

How technology changes how we hold our cameras


This image was posted by a friend on Facebook. It is of Emmanuel Jal, musician and former child soldier in the Sudan.

Of course, the grip is brutal. Classical technique says one cradles the lens and body with the left hand (see right). Jal looks like his is holding a trombone or a rocket launcher or knocking back a can of Coke.

But wait a second, with the advent of auto focus, Jal's grip makes sense. It is stable. Firm. Ergonomic. It just isn't pretty.

The classical grip was really a balance between supporting the bottom plate as well as possible whilst leaving fingers available to delicately manipulate aperture and focus (and on the old Olympus SLR's even the shutter speed).

All of which is now unnecessary.

Still, it is better than holding the camera like on the left. I wrote about this grip on an earlier post. Its main flaws is the fingers do not engage the lens barrel where indeed a few camera controls do reside. But more importantly, it is unstable. There is very little positive grip on the expensive and desirable Fuji X-100. A nice camera like that deserves to be handled properly.

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