Most photographers that I know have more than one camera. In many cases the photographer will have multiple camera bodies that use the same interchangeable lenses. This is a great option to have more than one type of lens to use at a shoot. Other photographers have different cameras for various purposes or situations. As a photographer, I am in the latter camp. However, this is not really the result of a specific acquisition plan. It is the case because I have purchased these cameras over a long period to fill a need I had at the time.

The most basic “camera” that I use is not a dedicated camera at all. It is a multifunctional tool that many people carry every day: a cell phone. Although my phone can shoot photos with a 16 megapixel sensor and 3 different lenses, it is not really a sophisticated camera with amazing features. I use it more for snapshots in the moment, to record those everyday occasions or subjects that pop up without much warning or planning. It is a useful tool, one that can often be overlooked simply because of its familiarity. I do understand that some photographers and videographers do amazing things with cell phone cameras but that is not my purpose or desire for using this camera.

“Bridge” camera with lens regular length and extended.

My second camera is also my oldest regularly used camera. It is a basic point-and-shoot camera, betraying its age with only an 8 megapixel sensor. However, it does have a minor zoom function and some features like a shutter timer as well as some factory presets for specific types of scenes. The other limitation of this camera is that it only records in “jpeg” format so it is not the best choice for most professional quality editable photography. This is the camera I most often take when traveling, particularly by plane, due to its small size and low weight. Its usefulness in specific situations outweighs the limitations, making it a good component of my photography arsenal.

The third camera in my collection is also my most recent purchase, a Compact System Camera or “bridge” camera. This camera type was originally intended to bridge the gap between a basic point-and-shoot camera and a full featured interchangeable lens system. In many cases, these cameras have the technology to shoot professional quality (and fully editable) images with the only limit being a fixed, not interchangeable, telephoto lens. This camera’s features include a 20 megapixel sensor and a 65x optical zoom lens, plus all of the adjustments normally found on an interchangeable lens camera. This camera is also useful for travel as it is still lighter and more compact that an interchangeable lens camera and the lenses. Because of the single lens it is somewhat easier to use, making this type an ideal camera for a photographer who is ready to move into a more complex professional quality system.

In my collection there is also a full featured interchangeable lens system of a digital camera body and 5 different lenses (2 prime and 3 telephoto). The camera body was chosen because it is from the same manufacturer as my well-loved and hard-used old film camera body (currently unused) and many of the controls are similar. This choice allowed me to continue using a few old favorite lenses in a digital format. The only limitation of these older lenses is the lack of an autofocus feature, which is not really a limitation in genres like landscape & nature photography, street & portrait photography, and some wildlife photography. While this is not my every day camera (only the cell phone camera is with me every day), it is the best camera for many situations. And it is clearly the camera that looks like stereotypical professional photographer’s gear, even though that is not a concern at this stage of my life.

While it is enjoyable to have multiple camera choices, it is certainly much more fun to use them. Each of my cameras fills a niche for me and all of them see regular use. The ability to match a camera with a specific goal for a photography shoot is a luxury that keeps me engaged and always learning more about myself and my photography.