I’ve recently been scanning a large collection of photos that we took decades ago.
I used a large 35mm SLR with several lenses and filters while my wife used a small fixed lens camera (35mm and before that a 110).
One thing I now notice about our photos is that my best photos are far better than her best (of course, why else would I lug all that heavy, bulky, inconvenient equipment with me?).
But, I also notice that I have far more really bad photos.
By good and bad I’m not talking about composition, but about things like exposure and depth of field.
I had full control over those aspects, and frequently got them wrong.
She had no choice, and given the tiny aperture, especially in the 110, her photos were generally all correctly exposed and focused.
In retrospect it’s easy to see that, like far too many other people, I incorrectly thought that a great camera would take great photographs.
In a few instances it did.
But in most cases all it did was provide me with multiple ways of making a mess of it.
Had I been intending to make photography a large part of my life, spending countless hours processing and printing my own film, practicing with hundreds of rolls, then buying that camera and lenses was a good start.
But that wasn’t my intent, and if I had it all to do over again, I’d go with a small and convenient point and shoot camera.
Using that, rather than worrying about all the settings, I might have concentrated more on composition, and learned what makes one photograph so much better than another.
That might have led me to be much more interested in the technical details of photography.
I would eventually have started stumbling over the limited capabilities of my equipment:
- “The subject is so small, and enlarging the print only makes it look grainy.”
- “The background is so well focused that the subject blends into it.”
- “Everything else looks okay, but the subject’s face is totally washed out.”
- “It’s great, but Fred moved his arm and it looks weird.”
I’d have learned:
- why and how a telephoto lens could have been used to zoom in on a distant subject.
- why and how a large aperture could have reduced the depth of field and blurred the background while keeping the subject in focus.
- why and how underexposing the image could have provided perfect exposure for the subject making it stand out against the darker background.
- why and how a faster shutter speed could have eliminated the motion blur.
(But that would have needed a larger aperture, which would have reduced the field depth, so perhaps a “faster film” ISO setting would have been better.)
Today, the cost of film and processing is no longer an issue, so it’s cheap and easy to take hundreds of practice photos.
I’d suggest that you stick with your small and convenient camera and develop your composition skills.
As you get better, you’ll start running into “if only I could have …” situations.
If and when this bothers you enough, you’ll eventually buy a camera with detachable lenses and manually adjustable settings.
And since you’ll already have a basic understanding of why you need these extra features, you’ll quickly learn to use them properly.