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Does Size Matter? Why Your Camera May Change the Way You Shoot

by Drew Evans
photo & video

There seems to be a common trend amongst creatives: The need to have the newest, biggest, and best gear items available. But does a newer/nicer camera necessarily mean a better photograph — or a better photographer? Is it possible that size (and convenience) might matter as much or more?

With every year that passes, camera features improve. There are new features created and added to the options menu all the time. The big DSLRs and their myriad lenses produce incredible quality and capability — but, let’s be honest — can sometimes affect usability. It certainly isn’t always be convenient to carry around a big DSLR wherever you go, even though perfect photographic moments will present themselves on a daily basis.

In certain situations, DSLRs still can’t be beaten. But have smaller cameras changed the way you shoot? If you are a street photographer or a photojournalist, you know just how important your subject is. But more importantly, you know how people react when they notice they’re having their picture taken. It can very easily take away the natural aspect of that photo, which is something you want to capture. That’s where smaller cameras become helpful. Their discreetness and quietness can help you capture candid moments more easily, or put your subjects at a greater level of ease.

Portable cameras, like the Sony a6000, Fuji x100s, Panasonic Lumix GX7, and countless others, have had a hand in changing the landscape of photography. Still sporting similar, high end features as their bigger DSLR cousins, portable cameras allow anything to become a subject without much thought at all. Five to ten years ago, smaller cameras couldn’t rival DSLRs in quality or photographic presence, but could offer size and ease. Now, almost every company boasts a compact digital camera that allows even the most professional of professionals to have DSLR-style features on a small-bodied camera.

But the newest revolution in the photography world wasn’t so much a camera as it was a phone. Apple’s iPhone (and other cell phones with decent megapixel output) allowed users to house a good quality, lightweight camera in their pockets. The mobile phone photography fad has impacted the relationship between accessibility and functionality. Small-yet-mightly became the center of demand.

There’s not a right or wrong when it comes to which camera works better; naturally, DSLRs have plenty of advantages. But on some occasions, smaller isn’t necessarily the lesser choice. A silent shutter, the ease of use, and the portability can make smaller cameras a very nice addition to the camera family. After all, photography is about creating art. And if the reason you’re not making pictures is because you don’t have all of your lenses and gear with you at all times, it may be time to invest in a smaller machine for those must-capture moments.

Because, after all, someone smart once noted that the best camera is the one you have with you.

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Drew Evans

Drew is a Seattle-based freelance writer. He spends too much time playing music, binging on Netflix, and watching his beloved Philadelphia sports teams.