Do not walk on the cracks
Sun Microsystems used to say that the network is the computer, and it became the mantra of Unix admins everywhere. When it comes to photography though, the mantra should be the lens is the camera. This is because every new lens brings with it unique characteristics, not only in terms of focal length (a wide-angle is very different to a telephoto, for example), but also in terms of how it behaves as a whole.
Getting a new lens is just like getting a brand new camera. Sure, the buttons and controls are in the same place as your “other” camera, but that’s just a bonus – everything else has changed.
Each lens focuses in a different way. Some hunt a little, some snap into place immediately. Every lens is different with the way it handles colour – some are more “accurate” (whatever that means), while some are designed to produce more saturated shots. Some are naturally soft while others are pin sharp.
Part of this is due to cost – a more expensive lens would usually be expected to be faster, sharper and give more accurate colour. So-called consumer grade lenses (aren’t we all consumers?) are often softer and more saturated, though there are some excellent cheap, sharp lenses out there too.
My new lens is about as cheap and simple as is possible. There’s no electronics, fixed focus, and the aperture is changed by rotating a plastic disk. The images are very, very soft, and the colours come out looking like something from the 1970’s.
And I love it!
With this lens on, my digital SLR fits inside my jacket pocket for the first time. I can take street photo shots without being stared at for sticking a huge lens in someon’s face. There’s no focus lag because there’s no focus It has qualities that make it unique and instantly appealing to folks (like me) who like their images less than pixel perfect.
I think it’s the Lomo for the digital age.