Clara grows up, Liam learns to use a camera

It’s been a little while, so here are some recent pictures of the kids and me. I’m happy to report that my relationship with Clara is really coming along. She and I have spent a lot more time together recently, and as she grows less dependent on Lisa for everything, I’m able to step in and enjoy her more. She is a smiley little girl with a really fun personality. She’s not a really snuggly baby like her brother Liam, but she does love to interact. She’s excited to see people she recognizes, and makes a jerky little waving movement with her arm that we think might be intentional. At least she seems to do it when she’s greeting someone. She also gurgles something that sounds like, ‘Hi.’ She learned to say ‘Mama’ while we were camping. She’s not quite to ‘Dada’ yet, but that’s not for lack of effort on my part. Liam might be her favorite person in the world. She loves to watch him run around, and is always laughing at even his simplest movements. Clara is a joy, and we continue to cherish every bit of her growth and progress.

Liam is starting to learn how to use a camera. He shows genuine interest in this. He has an old, used children’s book about how to use your 110 pocket camera (anyone remember those?). It’s narrated by a bear, and teaches about basic lighting and composition, complete with self-assignments. He’s still at the age where he loves to be read to, and doesn’t much care what we read. It’s very special. He has a summer recipe book that we read him, and he doesn’t seem to mind that it’s not narrative material.

The other day, Liam picked up my Pentax K-1000 camera, which is a 20- or 30-year old silver fully manual film camera. It’s a complicated thing to operate, even for an adult. And it’s heavy. But he loved using it, and now knows how to look through the viewfinder, click the shutter release, and wind the film to the next frame. The other night he was taking pictures of Clara, which they both really enjoyed. There was no film in the camera, but I think sooner or later we’ll have to try that part out, too.

Which camera should I buy, Andrew?

It’s kind of like asking which car you should drive. There are lots of them out there in different price ranges, and many serve different functions. I may recommend a sporty little Honda when you were looking for a Lotus. Or a Mini Cooper when you wanted a big 4×4 Yukon. But there’s one thing everyone wants from a camera, and that’s good pictures. Here are two cameras that come with the Andrew Stamp Of Approval ™. I’ll try to elucidate the use cases for each one to aid in your buying decision.

Panasonic Lumix LX3

This is the camera you buy if you want something that fits in your pocket.  It’s not the cheapest camera you can buy that’ll fit in your pocket, but it’s probably the best in this class.  They retail for just under $500, and I’d like to shoot this camera for a while.  It’s essentially a Leica camera (snobby art student camera brand) with a cheaper brand name on it.  One of the biggest benefits to buying this camera is that you won’t be tempted to buy any lenses for it; it doesn’t change lenses.  You can buy some adapters to make it act like it has a wide-angle or telephoto lens, but you won’t be tempted to plunk down another 4 grand to buy the good glass.

Nikon D-90 / Nikon D-40

These are the cameras you want if you’d like to really learn photography.  I think an SLR camera (one you can change the lenses on) is the best way to put yourself in the driver’s seat.  You say you’d rather buy Canon cameras?  Well, those will work just fine, too.  The best camera brand to buy is the one that all your friends shoot.  You can swap lenses and advice with each other most easily that way.  The D40 is in the $400-$500 range, while the D90 will set you back about a Grand.  With either of these cameras, you’ll have the opportunity to buy lenses later on.  Even though lenses can be wicked-expensive, they really unlock a lot of the potential in your camera.  You can do some neat stuff with good glass.

Nikon D3X

This is the camera to buy if you’re buying a gift for me.  🙂

But, seriously, people make good picture, not cameras.  I had a great time a week or two ago shooting a Pentax K-1000.  It’s old and manual-everything, but I shoot it to remind myself that I can make good photos without a computer, and without my fancy cameras.  So no matter what camera you have or which you end up buying, go enjoy taking pictures with it.  I promise that more pixels don’t equate to more joy.  Mostly.