the UX of photography: how am I going to choose a camera?

I’ve been wanting a “real” camera for a long time, and now that I am dating an amateur photographer and camera collector (when you have more than half a dozen cameras, you’ve got a collection, chéri), my lack of equipment is made apparent on a semi-daily basis.

I own a Rollei 35S which is in desperate need of a maintenance clean, but I can’t really spare the £150 I’ve been quoted given how little I use it. And in any case it’s a film camera, and film is a very expensive hobby. At least with a digital camera you have no overhead. So I’ve been looking at my options.

Let’s do this the UXA way.

what do I have now?

I have owned the Rollei since 1992. It was 2004 when I bought my first phone with a camera. It had 640×480 resolution. So poor! But it managed to document my life and amuse me until, in 2007, I got a Nokia N73 with a 3.1 MP camera. In 2009 I upgraded to the Sony Satio with its 12MP camera (a marvel of photography, seriously!!). And in 2011, I forked out for the iPhone 4s and its improved but comparatively measly 8MP. I have actively been putting off buying a digital camera since 2004, on the premise that the best camera is the one you have with you. And I will always live by that and own the best phone camera I can afford.

Catch is… I have now come to the point where I want much better photos than the little shiny toy can provide!

What are my use cases?

what photos do I take?

I love to take photos of details, such as screws on a wall, tiles, or crystals on a watch. I also seem to take a lot of photos of the sun, the sky (“magritte” clouds come to mind), and water. One category of photos I do not take often, but would really like to, is portraits. I love people. How they look, how they move, the expressions on their faces, the flaws of their skin or the colour of their eyes. It would be nice to be able to capture those things.
For a sampling, see my instagram feed or this photo here.

where do I go snap-happy?

When I’m out with friends, when I’m shopping, when I’m going for a walk. So typically on weekends. I love capturing moments, photo-trivia (unnoticed details of the scenery), and photos of beautiful things that I can only own as images. Oh, and on holidays.

splash cam?


Nothing naughty… I just spend a lot of time on beaches, and I think I would benefit from having a waterproof camera. This little one might do the trick. But I haven’t looked into its specifications yet.

how do i carry things?

I have a handbag. The size of it changes, but it’s generally generous as I like to be able to stuff in a random magazine, carry an A5 notebook, a Kindle, have been known to lug my iPad and can easily accommodate my scarf and gloves -as well-. So there would be room for a camera in there. After a certain weight though, I’d start worrying about the handbag’s straps. So I’m going to go for a cutoff weight of 550gr. Slightly arbitrary, but I’ve got to pick something, and 500gr seems too… metric.

where will my photos end up?

Most likely on flickr, on my blog and maybe on instagram (if I can be bothered). I imagine they will also eventually be used as stock photography and backgrounds for websites I may build for clients. Generally the ambience is going to be crisp and digital, with perhaps some romance for candle-lit portraits, or the tumble of a waterfall.

What I may get is to be debated. In the meantime though, my iPhone is still managing pretty well, with one of my photos featured as the first 2013 photo of Holland Park on the Holland Park facebook page.