Trust your eyes

About ten years ago, before Charles and I seriously got into photography, we had point-and-shoot cameras. I had a old tiny silver-colored Sony point-and-shoot that always took great photos. I didn’t think much of it, because it was so small, lightweight and cheap, and Sony was not a “recognized” name in cameras. I took it with us on outings, and we took photos for fun and memories.

That little camera produced sharp images with decent colors and dynamic range in harsh midday light, as well as generally nice exposure for foreground and background.

When I got pregnant with our first child, we wanted to upgrade to a better camera. We went out and bought a Canon point-and-shoot camera that cost around $500, which was “well-rated” by reviewers. Looking back, the image quality was actually inferior to our older, cheaper camera, but we didn’t know any better, and we kept taking photos with it.

In many photos with high dynamic range, the sky is blown out, colors are generally less vibrant, and the skin color is overly yellow despite Canon’s reputed “better skin tones.”

Unfortunately, the pregnancy ended in a nightmare. At a day to 37 weeks and almost full-term, our oldest son was stillborn. It was devastating.

There’s a lot more story here, but long story short, we stopped taking photos, and I gave that camera away.

When I became pregnant again, we did some research and decided to get the Sony RX100, which was a point-and-shoot with a 1″-type sensor and quite impressive image quality for being a compact.

I wanted to capture every moment of our precious little baby, and that first year I took thousands upon thousands of photos.

I really liked being able to carry the small, pocketable camera with me everywhere, and I shot lots of casual videos with it as well.

Around the time our older son was turning one year old, I wanted to take more “professional-looking” photos (by which I meant photos with more blurry background!) of him. So we did some investigation and talked to some sales people at a local store. Charles really, really wanted to get the Canon 70D. So we did.

But I didn’t like the camera. Don’t get me wrong, the Canon 70D was a popular camera for good reason, and it took good photos. However, it was too heavy for my comfort, the Canon 50mm f1.8 lens we got was loud in autofocus which would be audible in video, and I felt like I would not be able to take it with me on casual outings because the camera with the lens was so large and in-your-face.

I also had trouble using the optical viewfinder, because I preferred shooting with the LCD screen, having gotten used to it from years of using point-and-shoots with no viewfinders. I took photos with blurry background, yes, but the faces were also out of focus.

It took a lot for me to convince Charles to send the camera back, and to instead get one of the earliest Sony E-mount mirrorless cameras, the NEX5R with the silent-focus 50mm f1.8 OSS lens. The camera was cheap ($500), small and light, fit into my purse, and took photos that to my eyes looked better.

At the time, Sony E-mount was not popular, not well-reviewed, and very few people thought that such small cameras could produce professional-looking results. But I trusted my eyes over the reviewers, and I’m glad I did.

These days we are always in pursuit of better photos, and I try to remember that I should trust my eyes first and foremost.