As I mentioned a few blogs back, I spent a very relaxing weekend with James over in St Lucia last week. I had gone out to help with a few technical things, talk over a few ideas, meet with the team, and generally touch base with the St Lucia arm of Colorbox.
I am happy to say, that James is doing a great job, so once we had got all of the niggly odds and sods done we were able to go on a little adventure.
In the worst car in history.
James has a terrible little Chevrolet Vomit Buster as a hire car out there, and it is awful. Smaller than my 70-200 lens, with less power than the focus motor, this thing is utterly, utterly dump. To make things worse, St Lucia has those wonderful topographical beauties that we here in Barbados can only dream of….Hills. Loads of them. As far as the eye can see.
And the little car struggled with every one of them. But despite the inadequate engine, leg room and complete lack of sound proofing, it really was the most beautiful drive. We snaked our way down from Castries down to Soufriere over the course of 90 minutes, climbing hills and bombing down the other side, with views to die for and sites to behold…it was a lovely day.
I had not actually taken my camera over to St Lucia and James wanted to visit some waterfalls (you can read his excellent blog on that here) so I offered to take some shots of him and his lovely girlfriend, Michelle, with his Canon 7D. Now, for those of you not in the know in camera world, Canon and Nikon are the two big boys in the camera market. It’s like BMW and Mercedes; both companies are amazing but whichever one you own, (in my case Nikon) you look over at the other side and secretly covet little things they have. Publicly, however, you make brash, sweeping statements that put the other brand down and champion your choice of camera over any one else’s.
Truth be told, both manufacturers are amazing, and at the end of the day, when you look at the pictures, you would never know what was shot on what anyway…but I digress.
James bought his 7D a year ago now, and I have always liked it. It’s quick to focus, comfortable to hold, and the colours are exquisite. So I really was quite excited to get to shoot with it for the day.
It was also nice, because this is my comfort zone – this is what I do. Take a beautiful couple in love, find some nice scenery, plonk them in front of it and get some great shots.
Oh. My. God.
I’m not sure whether it was the rickety journey in the God awful Chevrolet, or the 20oz coffee I had drunk that morning, but within a few minutes of our adventure I felt my heart rate increase and I got really, really nervous. This in itself is ridiculous – James is one of my best mates and we were just out having fun, but I found it very hard to relax with this alien thing in my hand. Everything is backwards. Aperture and shutter are the wrong way round, focus and zoom are inverted – and even the exposure meter is backwards. What the flash were they thinking?
Surely this is more than an accident? Surely this is just the two camera giants being obtuse? “They go left, we’ll go right.” “They go down, we’ll go up.” It truly was disconcerting, and I could not fathom it. I was also amazed at how much I just ‘do’ when I’m shooting. Fire a frame: slightly over exposed in the background, stop it down a third on the shutter. Flash too powerful: close down aperture by a stop, slow shutter by a stop – ambient and flash now correctly balanced, get on with the shoot…but try doing that on a camera where everything is backwards, and you end up looking like my dad trying to send a text message.
It is a painful sight that I hope none of you will have to see.
And that set the tone for the day. James and Michelle were very patient with me as I blundered around the bizarre control system, and despite my inept ability with the camera, I still got some cool shots for the two…but as the day war on, I fell more and more out of love with the Canon, and pined more and more for my beauteous Nikon.
The camera is light, and very, very comfortable…but I missed the metal ruggedness of my beastie Nikon. It was very quick to focus and the sigma lens James has is beautifully sharp, but I missed the chunky, 100% viewfinder and focus system I understand. I took some wonderful pictures with the Canon, but all the while I held it I just felt like I was cheating…
I did love the jog wheel on the back, and I did love that the hot shoe is a lot further away from the eye piece. When I put my pocket wizards (radio triggers for my flash) on my Nikon, the base pokes out and stabs me in the eye. Every time. And for that I was truly envious…but everything else?…Sorry Jimbly, I love you buddy, but you can keep the Canon…I am sticking with the Mercedes of the camera world.
But the one thing I could not fault the Canon for: despite it’s inept operator we still got a shot of the god awful Chevrolet that even the BBC boys at Top Gear would have been proud of…True, I had to cut 99% of the hateful thing from shot, but between Jimbly sat looking cool, the Piton mountains in the background, a big flash bouncing off bonnet and a queezy feeling photographer behind the lens, the Canon did a marvelous job of making even the Chevrolet look acceptable.
Thanks for the adventure James – it was a blast.